US Soccer and Turner Sports agree to 8 year broadcasting rights deal
The US Soccer Federation and Turner Sports have reached an 8-year agreement for the broadcasting rights of US men's and women's national team games
In an historic move the the U.S. Soccer Federation secured a deal with the broadcasting giant for both TV and streaming.
U.S. Soccer moves to Turner Sports
According to reports on Tuesday, the U.S. Soccer Federation has awarded it's latest English-language TV rights contract to WarnerMedia’s Turner Sports. As announced by both parties, the eight-year agreement is worth around $25 million per year. Interestingly the deal also marks the first time in the federation's history that it won't be a 'TV-first' deal. Indeed, WarnerMedia’s streaming service HBO Max will be the primary home for U.S. senior men’s and women’s national team home games, based on the assumption that there will be in excess of 20 such games per year between the programs. Additionally, the cable channels TNT and TBS will be covering approximately half of the games, which in essence means that a large majority of the games - in the English language - will be streaming-only.
So What U.S. Soccer games will we see?
As is well known in international soccer the notion of a 'home game' isn't always clear. According to the agreement, U.S. Soccer officially holds the rights to men’s and women’s national team friendlies, men’s national team home World Cup qualifiers, and the U.S. Open Cup for men’s club teams across the country. There are of course some friendlies that hold greater importance, such as World Cup and Olympics send-off games, the U.S. men’s team’s hosting of rival Mexico, and the U.S. women’s team’s SheBelieves Cup. It should be noted that more important games which are played in Concacaf and FIFA tournaments are part of separate deals, regardless of if those games are played in the U.S. itself. It is also understood that Turner will be creating and broadcasting a wide variety of content through their online platform 'Bleacher Report,' such as behind the scenes documentaries.
A Lucrative deal for U.S. Soccer's future
As mentioned before the deal will see the U.S. Soccer Federation receive approximately $25 million per year in rights fees. Incidentally that amount is equal to the existing combined sum that the federation receives from it's present deal for English and Spanish rights with ESPN, Fox and Univision. Additionally it's worth mentioning that the length of the agreement itself - eight years - is significant in that it will see the hosting of the 2026 men’s World Cup year, the 2028 Olympics and the 2027 women’s World Cup.
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Where Turner itself is concerned, the deal marks a determined move by the company to secure stability as well as directly assist in the development of U.S. Soccer. Speaking on the new agreement, Turner Sports president Lenny Daniels said, “There’s nothing we do that has a short term view. ...I think this fits perfectly into our ability to grow the sport.”
How does the Turner deal help U.S. Soccer's future?
According to U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone, the new agreement is exactly what U.S. Soccer needs. “WarnerMedia will give U.S. Soccer the opportunity to reach a massive audience and connect with new fans across all their properties, both linear and digital,” she said. “Maybe we could have gotten a little jump after ‘26 but it’s about the broader vision and telling the U.S. Soccer story, obviously within our national teams but also outside of our senior national teams — with our youth, para, beach, futsal, crossing over into culture and lifestyle. So we just felt like WarnerMedia was the perfect partner for us, and we wanted a long term deal to develop that relationship and to have them help us grow the game in all aspects.”
It's interesting to note that this is the first time in 20 years that the federation has put out a tender for broadcasting rights. Indeed, from 2002 to to the present all rights were managed by the Major League Soccer’s marketing arm, Soccer United Marketing. The new agreement comes at a time when there is currently no English-language U.S. TV network with rights to broadcast. It would seem then that the future of U.S. soccer isn't just secure, but bright.