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Turner Sports, U.S. Soccer Agree on 8-Year Rights Deal For 2023 and Beyond

This will be Turner’s second dip into the futbol arena, as the company previously was the English-language home for the UEFA Champions League, which drew mixed reviews.

Jordan Bondurant

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The U.S. Soccer Federation will have a new domestic TV rights partner for all men’s and women’s national team matches, special tournaments, and FIFA World Cup qualifiers starting in 2023.

WarnerMedia announced on Tuesday that Turner Sports has come to terms on an eight-year deal with the U.S. Soccer Federation that will make TNT/TBS and HBO Max the exclusive English-language homes for U.S. soccer each year.

HBO Max will stream more than 20 matches each year, with TNT and TBS carrying half of those contests.

“We’re excited to spotlight one of the most popular Women’s teams in the world, along with an ascending Men’s National Team, over the eight years of this agreement,” Turner Sports president Lenny Daniels said. “This partnership offers us an opportunity to engage with their avid, young and diverse fan bases through all of our Turner Sports and Bleacher Report platforms.”

“During our discussions, it was clear how dedicated they are to growing soccer in the United States, especially their commitment to expand the women’s game,” U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone said. “As we build towards 2026 and beyond, we have found a fantastic partner to spotlight the stories of our Women’s and Men’s National Teams.”

This will be Turner’s second dip into the futbol arena, as the company previously was the English-language home for the UEFA Champions League, which drew mixed reviews. CBS Sports soccer analyst Grant Wahl tweeted Tuesday that hopefully in 2023 and beyond Turner does a better job with the two national teams.

“If Turner wants to do a better broadcast for US Soccer than it did for Champions League, it needs to hire producers who have a proven track record in soccer,” Wahl said. “The on-air talent for Turner’s UCL wasn’t the problem.”

Sports TV News

FOX Sports Sees Record-Setting Ratings Weekend

The World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.

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FOX Sports has been home to a number of record-setting games in terms of viewership over the last several days.

In addition to FOX Sports setting a new mark for a Thanksgiving and regular season NFL audience, the World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.

The network reported the U.S./England match in the group stage of the 2022 World Cup averaged 15.377 million. It was the most-watched English-language soccer game in the U.S. ever, topping the 1994 World Cup final between Italy and Brazil.

Viewership of the match was up 11% compared to the second group stage contest for the U.S. team in 2014 against Portugal. The audience peaked at 19.646 million from 3:30-3:45 p.m.

FOX Sports also reported the Michigan/Ohio State game on Saturday drew in 17 million, which made it the most-watched regular season college game on the network ever. That figure was also the highest of any regular season contest since 2011. That game also saw the audience peak at 19.6 million.

Viewership for the game was up 3% compared to last year.

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Sports TV News

ESPN Bowl Plans Could Be Altered By NFL Flex Scheduling

“While this situation poses a challenge, we are accustomed to flexibility and having to maneuver our event schedules.”

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ESPN could be forced to adjust its upcoming bowl season schedule if the NFL decides to flex a Las Vegas Raiders game a week before Christmas.

ESPN announced its contingency plans for two bowl contests, the Las Vegas Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl. The Las Vegas Bowl is currently planned to kick off from Allegiant Stadium at 7:30 p.m. on December 17. The Raiders right now are still planning to play in the Sunday night game the next night against the Patriots.

Should the NFL decide to flex the Raiders out of the SNF window, ESPN will swap kickoff times between the Las Vegas Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl. That would mean the game in sin city will kick off at 11:30 a.m. local time, with the contest in Albuquerque starting at 5:20 p.m. local time that evening.

“The SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl and New Mexico Bowl are both owned and operated by ESPN Events, so this change is a solution that will work for all parties,” ESPN Events vice president Clint Overby said. “While this situation poses a challenge, we are accustomed to flexibility and having to maneuver our event schedules. We are more than prepared to move forward with this revised schedule if necessary.”

Kickoff times will be determined well enough ahead that the schools taking part in both games shouldn’t be adversely affected.

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Sports TV News

NFL Thanksgiving Games Set Ratings Records

FOX Sports added that viewership was up 49% compared to 2021.

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The Thanksgiving slate of NFL games last week brought in the largest audiences ever. Viewership across all three games averaged 33.5 million.

The game with the largest viewership was Giants/Cowboys in the 4:30 p.m. window. FOX Sports reported that 42 million watched Dallas beat New York 28-20. It is the largest regular season audience ever, surpassing the previous leader set 32 years ago.

The network added that viewership was up 49% compared to 2021. FOX carried the Detroit Lions traditional noon Thanksgiving game last year. Compared to the Cowboys turkey day contest on CBS in 2021, viewership was up 3%.

The Bills/Lions game in the early window on CBS averaged 31.627 million, with the audience peaking at 41.981 million. It was the most-watched early Thanksgiving game on record.

Patriots/Vikings on NBC in the nightcap averaged 25.9 million. That figure was up 24% compared to Bills/Saints a year ago, with NBC Sports claiming it’s the second most-watched primetime Thanksgiving game on record. The game was simulcast in Spanish on Telemundo, which averaged 565,000 viewers and made it the most-watched NFL game ever on the network.

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