Turner Sports and HBO Max are about to become the new English-language home of U.S. Soccer, which was first reported by journalist Grant Wahl on Monday, and sources confirmed to The Athletic in a new report. Currently, U.S. Soccer’s media rights are held by ESPN and Fox Sports, which is part of a package that was negotiated by Soccer United Marketing (SUM), with the rights to Major League Soccer (MLS), but that deal expires at the end of 2022.
SUM and MLS had a falling out, which is why U.S. Soccer rights will not be included in the next media deal for MLS. The Atheltic’s report gives details on what the Turner and HBO deal will include:
These media rights do not include the men’s or women’s World Cup. The World Cup rights are held by Fox Sports for the 2022 men’s, 2023 women’s and 2026 men’s World Cups. Turner would have the rights to U.S. Soccer properties, which includes men’s and women’s national team friendlies, SheBelieves Cup and U.S. men’s and women’s national team World Cup qualifiers. Notably, as a host country, the U.S. is not expected to play any qualifiers ahead of the 2026 World Cup. FIFA has not yet officially announced that the U.S. will automatically qualify, however, as one of the three host nations along with Mexico and Canada.
The Athletic reached out to U.S. Soccer, but they declined to comment. The report doesn’t specify how much or for how long the agreement is for. HBO and Turner will likely make an official announcement with more details on how they will split the rights. Both companies are a part of WarnerMedia, and adding soccer to HBOMax would be a perfect way to enter the live sports arena.
The U.S. Soccer move comes ahead of the merger of WarnerMedia and Discover, which is expected to close this spring. Back in April of 2021, the WarnerMedia reached a 7-year deal with the NHL to bring hockey to TNT, TBS, and HBOMax. The company is “in the mix for at least a piece of the MLS rights,” according to a World Soccer Talk report.