For the first time, games organized by the United Soccer League (USL) are headed for broadcast and free streaming television.
On Tuesday, the USL and Paramount Global announced a multi-year deal that will bring more than 100 soccer matches per year to various CBS properties, with most of the games offered for free through the upstart streaming channel CBS Sports Golazo Network. Select matches will also be offered through the CBS broadcast network and the CBS Sports Network on cable and satellite, the companies said.
The deal includes broadcast rights to the USL Championship Final, which will air on CBS starting next year. Around 75 matches will stream for free on CBS Sports Golazo Network, which is available through Pluto TV, The Roku Channel and Paramount Plus, while 20 matches will be exclusive to CBS Sports Network on cable. A few matches will broadcast live on CBS each year.
Through this year, USL matches stream on Disney’s premium sports service ESPN Plus. The deal between USL and CBS Sports covers around one-sixth of all USL matches that are played each year, and the Sports Business Journal said on Tuesday another deal could be coming that will see the USL offer the rest of its games — around 500 each year — to ESPN.
“The United Soccer League, with its expansive and growing presence across the country, is an excellent addition to CBS Sports’ premium soccer portfolio,” Dan Weinberg, the executive vice president of programming at CBS Sports, said on Tuesday. “We look forward to making the exciting action of the USL more easily available to fans than ever before and elevating the league with coverage across our CBS Sports platforms. With the USL’s addition to our wide array of soccer properties and robust year-round match coverage, CBS Sports continues to be the premier destination for soccer fans in this country.”
The addition of live USL matches increases CBS Sports’ offering of professional soccer events. The broadcaster already provides live access to UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, Concacaf national team champions, Italy’s Serie A, Argentina’s Liga Profesional, Asian Football Confederation and other pro soccer league matches. The majority of that programming is available through Paramount Plus, the premium streaming service operated by Paramount that starts at $6 a month.
“CBS Sports has become a destination for soccer fans in America, and we are thrilled to bring to their platforms the unique soccer experience that only the USL provides,” Alec Papadakis, the CEO of USL, said on Tuesday. “This partnership is a clear indication of the USL’s growth and impact on domestic soccer, providing us with more national TV exposure and platforms to tell stories about our players, clubs, and fans than ever before. We are entering a new, exciting phase, both on and off the field, and we look forward to working with CBS Sports over the next four years to take our leagues and our game to new heights.”