Photographer: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Turner Said to Win Champions League TV Rights for $180 Million

  • UEFA said to encourage partnership between Turner, Facebook
  • Three-year deal to air European soccer matches starts in 2018

Time Warner Inc.’s Turner Sports and Spanish-language broadcaster Univision have acquired the U.S. TV rights to European soccer’s Champions League, according to people familiar with the matter.

The three-year deal with soccer’s European governing body, UEFA, starts in 2018. Turner is paying $60 million a year, one of the people said. Univision Holdings Inc. will spend $35 million a year, said Sports Business Daily, which reported the deal earlier Friday. 21st Century Fox Inc. currently holds the U.S. rights to broadcast Champions League matches.

The Champions League was one of the few TV sports deals still up for grabs, since most contracts to show professional football, basketball and baseball in the U.S. are locked up for years. The cost of televising sporting events has been increasing, yet media companies are still willing to pay because sports are one of the few things that people still watch live.

Turner, whose parent company is being acquired by AT&T Inc., also owns the rights to broadcast other major sports, including the NBA, NCAA Tournament, Major League Baseball, and golf. Turner owns the sports website Bleacher Report, which has a large presence on Facebook. UEFA suggested to Turner that it work with a non-traditional media company like Facebook Inc., but talks between the companies haven’t started, the person said.

Facebook has been adding to its growing streaming sports portfolio. The social-media giant will start showing live games from Mexico’s top soccer league. It is also in talks to stream Major League Baseball games, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Turner and Univision declined to comment. UEFA didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment after normal business hours Friday.

— With assistance by Tariq Panja

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