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CBS, UEFA Agree to 6-Year, $1.5B Contract for Champions League Broadcast Rights

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVAugust 19, 2022

UEFA Champions League Trophy (Kristian Skeie - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

UEFA reached an agreement with CBS, Viacom and Paramount on a six-year, $1.5 billion contract for United States television rights to its club competitions, including the Champions League.

Adam Crafton of The Athletic reported the deal, which starts in 2024-25, also covers the Europa League and the Europa Conference League. Its $250 million annual value represents a sizable increase from UEFA's previous U.S. broadcast package, which brought in $100 million per season.

Amazon was also involved in the bidding after securing UEFA rights in Germany, Italy and the UK, but it's U.S.-based efforts are currently focused on building out its NFL Thursday Night Football package, per Crafton.

The new contract will coincide with changes to the Champions League format.

Beginning in 2024-25, the UCL will switch from a 32-team competition broken down into eight groups to a 36-team, single-league format. Each club will play 10 matches during the first round.

The top eight teams after the opening round will advance directly to the knockout stages. Clubs ranked between ninth and 24th will take part in a playoff round to earn a spot in the round of 16 bracket. The remaining sides are eliminated.

Clubs knocked out of the Champions League will no longer be transferred to the Europa League.

In May, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin explained he's hopeful the more "open" competition will eliminate the chances of a breakaway event similar to the failed Super League and shrugged off criticism of the new format.

"It's truly open, it's as open as it can be," Ceferin said. "Whatever you do in football, somebody says you didn't do it right. Even if you score, they say you should score with the other foot."

Sports rights remain among the most lucrative television properties because the live element represents a better chance for advertisers to reach an audience.

The 2022 Champions League final featuring Real Madrid and Liverpool attracted a record 2.76 million English-speaking viewers on CBS in the United States. The 2021 final between Chelsea and Manchester City checked in at 2.1 million viewers on CBS.

UEFA's contract with CBS, Viacom and Paramount is for the English rights only. The U.S. Spanish rights will be sold as part of a separate package, per Crafton.

The 2022-23 Champions League group stage will kick off in September.

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