Sources: Euros heading to Fox Sports through 2028, EPL TV deal in play, MLS coming shortly after EPL is settled
Fox Sports is close to taking the UEFA European Championship rights from ESPN, according to several sources. Nothing has been signed officially yet, but sources expect a deal for U.S. rights to be announced within the next two weeks. ESPN has held these rights since 2008 and has built up the Euros into a jewel event. Deal terms still are being negotiated, but sources say that Fox will have the rights through 2028, which would include Euro 2024 and Euro 2028, in addition to the UEFA Nations League and European qualifiers.
The price Fox is paying for the package is not known. ESPN paid around $115 million for the package that included just Euro 2020. UEFA was believed to be looking for around $300 million to cover the next two iterations of the event.
The deal marks a big win for Fox, as the Euros fit the media company’s soccer strategy, which is more focused on big events with national teams rather than individual clubs. Fox boasts an enviable schedule over the next four years, which includes the FIFA World Cup next year, the Women’s World Cup in 2023, the Euro 2024 and the Concacaf Gold Cup in 2025. It also holds the rights to the South America's Copa America.
CBS, ESPN and NBC were involved in the negotiations at one point or another. These media companies have been active in picking up soccer rights, part of a strategy by each to bolster the direct-to-consumer component for their respective streaming services: Paramount+, ESPN+ and Peacock.
CBS, ESPN and Fox are expected to join NBC in submitting formal bids for the Premier League’s U.S. media rights next month, according to several sources. NBC’s current deal ends in May. The league has told interested companies to submit bids by Nov. 8. The Premier League has said that it will consider bids that split the rights between two media companies, a big change from how it has previously marketed its U.S. rights, which to date has only been held by one network.
Opportunities still exist for one company to pick up the rights. But other properties, like the NHL recently, have opted to split packages among two or more networks to take advantage of having big media companies help promote their sport.
Given the posturing among all the networks, it’s impossible to accurately predict how much the league stands to make from a new deal. NBC currently pays more than $150 million per season as part of a six-year deal signed in 2015. Considering the amount of interest, that fee is likely to double -- and possibly go higher. NBC Sports wants to remain the sole U.S. rights holder for Premier League, which has been a big driver of its Peacock streaming service.
When asked about the Premier League at last week’s CAA World Congress of Sports, ESPN’s Jimmy Pitaro said, “We love the game of soccer. We love it on linear, but probably love it even more for direct-to-consumer. Absolutely we are interested in more soccer content and we are looking at it right now.”
The frenzy around the Premier League has affected MLS, which also is in the market looking for new media deals. Sources said that media companies told MLS execs that they wanted to wait until after the Premier League’s bidding process ended before getting serious with negotiations around the domestic league’s rights.