Who Will Own the US National Soccer Team Broadcasting Rights After 2023?
Team USA soccer doesn’t seem to think its current broadcasting deal with ESPN and Fox is good enough — so who will be the likely broadcasting partner for the USMNT and USWNT after this deal expires in 2023?
Meadowlark Media soccer writer Grant Wahl, formerly of Fox Sports, wrote a story on his Substack page about the US national team's broadcasting rights deal and how it will likely change this time around. Rather than split time between two networks as it’s currently doing (ESPN & Fox), they’d love to be found on one, singular network — and that one network likely won’t be ESPN or Fox.
The top names in the running are ViacomCBS, Turner Sports, and Amazon, according to sources close to Wahl. The former makes the most sense, as ViacomCBS has been nabbing up global soccer rights over this past year and haven’t slowed down a bit. Adding the US national team’s rights makes ViacomCBS and its associated brands an MLS short of being the exclusive home for soccer in the United States.
Currently, ViacomCBS has the American broadcasting rights to the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, Europa Conference League, NWSL, Concacaf, the Scottish Professional Football League, Brazil’s Campeonato Brasileiro Série A, Argentina’s Liga Profesional de Futbol, Italy’s Serie A, the Asian Football Confederation, and the Women’s Cup. Most of these can be found on Paramount+.
Turner is an interesting option but the company lacks the streaming component that ViacomCBS and Amazon offer. Turner owns Bleacher Report and its associated digital platforms like B/R Live, but their offerings may lack the infrastructure that Paramount+ and Amazon Prime Video can provide. Turner, however, owns two major cable networks in TNT and TBS — of which Amazon does not.
What Amazon does provide, however, is the online infrastructure that forward-thinking companies should be looking for. Amazon already sold the NFL on its online platform, as it will be the exclusive home for Thursday Night Football starting next season. Amazon would also love to pair the NFL with another sport to cross-promote — and why not match football with football?
Wahl says the next contract for the US Soccer rights will greatly differ from past deals. For starters, the US national team rights will no longer be bundled with the rights for Major League Soccer, as they had been for the 2015-22 rights period. “U.S. Soccer already announced that it will not continue its business relationship with Soccer United Marketing, which is owned by the MLS owners, beyond the current deal,” Wahl said. Whoever purchases the rights for this go-around also won’t have World Cup qualifiers to air, as the US, along with Canada and Mexico, will receive an automatic bid to the tournament for being the host countries.
With all this in mind, it seems like a perfect opportunity for ViacomCBS to add another soccer notch to its belt, but don’t rule out Amazon, Turner, or even an unforeseen name like Apple.