Television Business International

Turner to launch OTT sports service

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David LevyTurner is to launch a new standalone premium sports streaming service in the US after acquiring European Champions League and Europa League football rights for the three seasons from 2018.

The OTT sports service will launch next year, with European football as a key element in its offering. Under the terms of its multi-year agreement with UEFA, Turner will be the exclusive media partner in the US for English-language coverage of two competitions.

The company will offer over 340 matches per season across its TV and digital platforms overall.

Turner will offer matches direct-to-consumers via the new OTT TV service. Popular online portal Bleacher Report will serve as a portal to the OTT service.

Turner will also regularly air live matches on its TBS channel, and on one or both of TNT and truTV.

Bleacher Report, which is popular with a millennial audience, will provide clips and ancillary content across its properties and on social media, including the BRFootball channels on Snap, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Turner’s channels will air four live broadcasts weekly through the group stages and two matches per week during the knockout phase. All other matches will be made available through the OTT service.

All semi-final matches and the final will be aired on TBS or TNT.

Europa League matches will be made available on the OTT service, with the final also aired on TBS or TNT.

Turner’s announcement is the latest in a series of moves by big media companies into online sports.

Disney has unveiled plans to launch an ESPN-branced multi-sport video streaming service early next year and is to take majority control of BAMTech, the streaming technology outfit set up by Major League Baseball in the US, which will also serve as the vehicle for a wider move into subscription video-on-demand.

Discovery has also made a major move into sports, acquiring the rights to the Olympics in Europe along with Bundesliga top-tier football in Germany, which it is making available via its Eurosport Player platform.

“The launch of Turner’s new OTT sports platform and partnership with UEFA aligns with the company’s continued strategy to further expand the distribution ecosystem and our ongoing commitment to engage fans with premium content they crave across all platforms,” said David Levy, president of Turner.

“These highly-anticipated matches and supplemental original programming will be a key foundation for our latest direct to consumer business sports offering, as well as coveted content for Bleacher Report and our leading television networks.

“In addition to the new audiences we’ll attract through the streaming service, the partnership will leverage the tremendous reach we have with our television networks and Bleacher Report’s position as the leading digital destination for millennial fans.”

Lenny Daniels, president of Turner Sports, said: “Through this new agreement, Turner Sports is further expanding our portfolio with championship-calibre content featuring two of the most popular sporting events in the world. We believe world football is one of the most impactful growth properties in the US.

“Our shared vision with UEFA has led to the perfect opportunity to leverage the reach of Turner as we establish deeper connections with fans, while simultaneously creating new business ventures for our company.”