Turner Sports is returning to the world of soccer, locking up the rights to air U.S. national team home contests from 2023 through 2030. All of the games will be streamed on HBO Max, with about half also airing on TNT or TBS.
The broadcast agreement includes rights to men’s and women’s national team home friendlies as well as World Cup qualifiers—though the U.S. is unlikely to play qualifiers ahead of the 2026 World Cup, which it is hosting along with Canada and Mexico, and away WCQ match rights are handled separately. In total, HBO Max will air more than 20 matches a year. Financial terms of the deal were not announced.
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“This is a significant milestone for Turner Sports and WarnerMedia, further demonstrating our commitment to the distribution of premium live sports content on HBO Max, while simultaneously fueling our leading entertainment networks, digital and social assets,” Turner Sports president Lenny Daniels said in a statement.
Turner’s winning bid means the global game will soon be split across even more networks. Currently, top men’s and women’s competitions and leagues air on ABC, beIN Sports, CBS, CBS Sports, DAZN, ESPN, ESPN+, FOX, FS1, FuboTV, NBC, Paramount+, Peacock, Twitch and USA. And that’s just the English-language coverage.
These rights were previously held by FOX and ESPN as part of a combined package that included MLS coverage (the U.S. Soccer Federation ended its ties with MLS-operated Soccer United Marketing last year). U.S. Soccer has yet to announce new partners for its Spanish-language rights, as well as marketing deals, which in the past had been done through SUM as part of a $30 million annual broadcast and marketing rights package. A person with knowledge of the Turner deal said the English-language TV rights of the new agreement approach $30 million.
“I think we saw in the first chats, it’s very much going to be a collaboration and working together,” U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone said in an interview. “Is there a little bit of the unknown? Yes. Because we do have to build it up together, but for me that’s not really a negative. That’s part of the excitement about doing this and building it and not being set in how it’s always been.”
TNT aired Champions League action from 2018 until opting out of the contract in 2020, and offered a number of games on B/R Live. When Turner Sports acquired NHL rights last year, then-WarnerMedia news & sports chairman Jeff Zucker said hockey could make its way to HBO Max as well. Zucker resigned last month from the company, which is in the midst of a merger with Discovery.
Combined, HBO and HBO Max reached 46.8 million subscribers as of January.
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