Turner Sports opts out of Champions League deal: report

Turner Sports abruptly dropped its rights to broadcast the UEFA Champions League in the United States. (Jakub Porzycki/Getty Images)

Turner Sports will no longer be the English-language broadcast home of the UEFA Champions League in the United States, according to a report published by the Sports Business Journal on Wednesday.

Per SBJ reporters John Ourand and Mark J. Burns, Turner Sports, which acquired the rights to show global soccer’s most prestigious club competition in 2017, has notified European football governing body UEFA that it will exercise an exist clause in its contract to forego the final year of its deal.

That means it might not air (or stream via its much-maligned B/R Live service) the remaining 11 matches of this season, which have been pushed back until August because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Last November, CBS won the rights to show the Champions League in the U.S. beginning with the 2021-22 campaign. The report states that UEFA “will look to re-sell English-language rights for the next two seasons over the next several weeks.” It adds that UEFA has not spoken with any American outlets yet, but that CBS jumping in early is the most obvious outcome.

Still, it’s not impossible that another suitor would be interested in filling the void with a short-term arrangement, especially with the biggest matches of this season still to be played, and with brand-name clubs such as Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid still involved. However, the SBJ report also said that “the possibility still exists that UEFA will ask Turner to carry the games this August.

Liverpool, the current European champion which is on the verge of winning its first English title in 30 years, was eliminated by Atletico Madrid in March, just before the competition was postponed in response to the health crisis. The 2020 final, which was originally supposed to be staged last month in Istanbul, will now take place Aug 23. in Lisbon.

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