US bidders submit plans – The Hollywood Reporter

On Monday morning, executives from every major sports media company received an email urging them to pitch their best pitch for what is likely the biggest TV and streaming sports rights deal of the year: the US rights to UEFA, including the UEFA Champions League.

Capitalizing on the growing interest in European football and the need for major streaming exclusive sports content, league officials and its US trading partner Relevent Sports Group are driving the new agreement, which will come into effect with the 2024-2025 season.

According to someone familiar with the talks, Relevent and UEFA are aiming for a 6-year deal and are expecting a big result, especially after NBCUniversal’s deal to retain the rights to the English Premier League last year. The 6-year EPL deal, which includes live gaming on USA Network, Peacock, NBC and Telemundo, was valued at approximately $430 million annually, or more than $2.5 billion over the course of the deal.

But while a similar financial outcome is expected, UEFA’s new media rights tender bid is not just about economics. The source involved in the talks said the first round of bids – due August 15 – is also expected to include detailed marketing and sales plans, as well as a breakdown of what games would be on streaming vs linear, etc.

All major media companies are expected to look at the package, including the big traditional players like Disney/ESPN, CBS/Paramount, Fox, NBCUniversal and Warner Bros. Discovery, along with streaming players like Apple and Amazon.

It’s also possible that rights will be split (depending on the results of the tender now open), although UEFA is unlikely to approve more than two packages.

The UEFA rights could be of particular interest to companies looking to invest in their own streaming offerings. With US leagues like the NFL and NBA still mostly focused on linear TV, UEFA seems open to packages with a heavy streaming component. Given UEFA’s younger-than-average fan base, streaming can make sense as a primary delivery mechanism, although linear can still draw attention.

“This product is attracting a young, diverse audience, which is an important part of the strategy, especially in relation to streaming,” the source said.

With offers coming in over the next month, UEFA and Relevent are expected to act quickly, with a deal hopefully finalized by the start of the 2022-2023 season, which begins in September.

The value of sports rights continues to soar even as linear television continues its slow secular subscriber decline.

While the NFL’s recent 10-year rights deals, valued at over $100 billion, remain the benchmark for rising rights values, all major sports are seeing increases in their potential TV and streaming revenues.

The primary reason for this is streaming, with legacy partners like ESPN, CBS, and NBCUniversal all investing in their own streaming services (ESPN+, Paramount+, and Peacock) while seeking rights to continue monetizing their linear channels.

Meanwhile, newcomers are beginning to invest seriously in the sport. Amazon and Apple in particular are securing significant rights and making competitive bids, with Amazon set to become the exclusive home for the NFL Thursday night soccer later this year, and Apple recently inked a long-term deal with Major League Soccer. Earlier this year, Amazon also secured the UEFA rights in the UK.

And after the UEFA deal is finalized, all eyes will be on the NBA, which is also looking to renew its contracts ahead of the 2024-2025 season and is likely considering a deal that will be surpassed only by the NFL once completed high.

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