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CBS All Access nabs rights to UEFA Champions League soccer matches

CBS All Access is about to beef up its programming portfolio with a new sports offering.

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Starting in 2021, the CBS-owned streaming service will provide more than 400 UEFA Champions League soccer matches, the company’s acting CEO Joe Ianniello confirmed on a conference call with reporters Tuesday.

Select games will also air on the CBS broadcast network and could be made available across multiple cable TV channels if the company’s merger with Viacom goes through.

CBS beat out several other networks, including Fox and Disney/Hearst-owned ESPN, to secure the rights. Univision has renewed the Spanish-language rights to the games from 2021 onward.

“Soccer fans know these rights represent some of the most prestigious and popular soccer tournaments in the world, so we couldn’t be more pleased that we’ve won this hotly contested process,” Ianello said.

Currently, CBS All Access airs select National Football League games, though the network shares broadcast rights with others — including ESPN, NBC and Fox — as well as streaming rights with Amazon and Verizon.

Ianello said final contracts were being signed to seal the deal for the UEFA games. CBS did not say how much it paid to secure UEFA rights, but Sports Business Daily said CBS and Univision were together paying around $150 million per year, the entertainment trade publication Deadline reported.

Ianello said CBS expects to have around 25 million streaming subscribers between CBS All Access — which is available from CBS directly as well as on Apple, Roku and Amazon’s channel platforms — and its premium network Showtime within the next few years.

“We are getting paid higher rates per subscriber” through online offerings compared to cable and satellite, Ianello said.

CBS All Access is offered for $6 a month with commercial advertisements or $10 a month without advertisements. Ianello did not say if Tuesday’s deal with UEFA would result in a price increase at some point in the next two years.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).