Turner says it plans to use the rights it has acquired to soccer’s UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League as the foundation for a new stand-alone direct-to-consumer streaming platform as sports, already the most powerful programming on broadcast and cable TV, continues to move over-the-top.
The move follows last week’s announcement that Disney was moving up the launch of a new ESPN-branded subscription streaming service. Twitter is streaming Major League baseball games and Amazon will be streaming Thursday night NFL games this season.
That means more competition for traditional TV, which counts on sports and news to generate live views as people increasingly watch scripted and non-scripted programming on demand.
With ad revenue flat and the number of pay-TV subscribers eroding, direct to consumers subscription products are looking more and more attractive to TV companies.
Turner, which is spending a reported $60 million a year on the soccer rights, will air games on its TNT, TBS and truTV cable channels. Its Bleacher Report online sports service will also carry soccer content and will be a portal for fans looking to watch the games that aren’t on traditional TV.