Facebook, Disney/ESPN+ Up Soccer Streaming

Soccer may be the world’s most-popular sport that has yet to generate mainstream appeal in the United States. But that isn’t stopping major domestic over-the-top video platforms from inking distribution deals with international professional leagues.

Disney’s recently launched OTT service ESPN+ signed a multi-year media agreement for three more top-division soccer leagues – Australia’s Hyundai A-League and Westfield W-League, the Chinese Super League and the Dutch Eredivisie.

In all, more than 300 matches per season from the leagues will be streamed live exclusively in the United States on ESPN+.

“This agreement further boosts the position of ESPN+ as the leading new platform for live soccer matches in the U.S.,” Burke Magnus, EVP of programming and scheduling at ESPN, said in a statement. “These leagues join a lineup of hundreds of top-division live matches from Europe and North America, along with a strong lineup of original and studio soccer programming.”

Last week, ESPN+ announced a new multi-year agreement with Serie A TIM that includes more than 340 Italian soccer matches per year. The streaming service is also home to MLS Live – a collection of more than 250 Major League Soccer out-of-market matches, as well as local market media home for the Chicago Fire.

ESPN+ will carry more than 100 live matches from the UEFA Nations League (UNL), a new tournament among the 55-member nations from the Union of European Football Associations played on FIFA international match days beginning in September. In addition, ESPN+ subscribers have access to hundreds of English Football League (EFL), the United Soccer League (USL) matches.

The service also streams “ESPN FC”, ESPN’s daily global soccer news, information and analysis program.

Separately, Facebook signed a deal with Spain’s La Liga soccer league to stream matches in Asia. The €90 million agreement will live-stream 380 matches in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Maldivas, Nepal, Butan and Sri Lanka.

This summer Amazon Prime Video announced it would live-stream 20 Premier League soccer matches beginning in 2019.


Amazon Ups Sports Streaming with U.K. Premier League Soccer Rights

In a major move, Amazon June 7 announced that beginning in 2019 it would begin streaming live Premier League soccer matches and weekly highlights packages on Prime Video in the United Kingdom.

No financial details of the deal were released, but media reports suggest Amazon could be paying upwards of $12 million per soccer match.

The Premier League claims to be the most-watched sports league in the world, and U.K. Prime members will have exclusive access to 20 matches per season, comprising two full fixture rounds – the first December midweek round and the festive Bank Holiday round – featuring live coverage of every Premier League team.

This will be the first time a full round of Premier League fixtures will be broadcast live in the U.K. In addition, Prime members will be able to watch weekly highlights of all Premier League matches throughout the season.

“Amazon is an exciting new partner for the Premier League and we are very pleased they have chosen to invest in these rights,” Richard Scudamore, executive chairman of the Premier League, said in a statement.

The Premier League joins Prime Video’s growing slate of live sports, including U.S. Open Tennis, ATP World Tour Tennis and the NFL, all currently available to watch on Prime Video in the UK at no extra cost to Prime members.

Premier League matches will also be available alongside Prime Video’s critically acclaimed and award winning Prime Original drama, comedy and sports docu-series.

“We are always looking to add more value to Prime, [including] for the first time, live Premier League matches,” said Jay Marine, VP of Prime Video in Europe.


Netflix Launching Italian Pro Soccer Docu-Series

Netflix may not be interested in streaming live sports and Italy is not competing in this summer’s FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia. But the SVOD behemoth understands the value of the world’s most-popular sport.

Beginning Feb. 16, Netflix will begin streaming globally the first three episodes of “First Team: Juventus,” a reality-based series about Italian Series A soccer powerhouse, Juventus Football Club S.p.A.

The series gives viewers – especially in the United States – an understanding of the players, the coaches and management of the club, which currently sits in 2nd in Series A competition behind Napoli. Juventus has won six straight Series A championships.

Netflix will follow the most compelling stories and characters on the club during the current 2017-2018 season, spending time with the players both on and off the field, on the road and at home.

Fans and supporters worldwide will have access to the club’s marquee players, including Alessandro Del Piero, Federico Bernardeschi, Giorgio Chiellini, Douglas Costa, Gonzalo Higuaín, Claudio Marchisio, Miralem Pjanic, Daniele Rugani, 40-year-old captain goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and hyper-critical coach Massimiliano Allegri.