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HBO Max Expands Into Live Sports with U.S. Soccer Deal

Turner Sports
(Image credit: Turner Sports)

ATLANTA—Turner Sports and the U.S. Soccer Federation have reached an eight-year multimedia rights agreement that will make TNT/TBS and HBO Max the exclusive English-language home to more than 20 Women’s and Men’s National Team matches each year. 

The Sports Business Journal (opens in new tab) has valued the deal at being worth more than $200 million. 

The new agreement, set to begin in 2023, marks HBO Max’s first big move into offering live sports on the streaming service. 

HBO Max will live stream more than 20 United States National Soccer Team matches each year. TNT or TBS will televise approximately half of those matches – all simulcast on HBO Max – with the remaining matches being exclusive to the rapidly growing streaming platform.

In addition, the deal will include digital and highlight rights for Bleacher Report and its portfolio brands, among additional content opportunities throughout the WarnerMedia portfolio, the companies said. 

“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,” said Lenny Daniels, president, Turner Sports. “We’re excited to spotlight one of the most popular Women’s teams in the world, along with an ascending Men’s National Team, over the eight years of this agreement. This partnership offers us an opportunity to engage with their avid, young and diverse fan bases through all of our Turner Sports and Bleacher Report platforms.”

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Turner Sports at this amazing time for soccer in the United States," said U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone. “During our discussions it was clear how dedicated they are to growing soccer in the United States, especially their commitment to expand the women’s game. As we build towards 2026 and beyond, we have found a fantastic partner to spotlight the stories of our Women's and Men's National Teams."

Per the terms of the agreement, Turner Sports will be the exclusive domestic, English-language rightsholder for U.S. National Team World Cup qualifiers, National Team friendlies (including premium U.S. matches against Mexico), send-off matches and special events leading up to and following the World Cup and Olympic Games, and the SheBelieves Cup, among additional events involving the Women’s and Men’s National Soccer Teams.

Additional highlights of the deal include:

  • Turner Sports and Bleacher Report will have exclusive rights to live event coverage, including the potential to create interactive companion broadcasting experiences and/or newly developed matches or tournaments; behind-the-scenes content, such as the opportunity to produce docuseries and ancillary programming; along with bespoke digital experiences, in association with both teams;
  • Bleacher Report, including its leading B/R Football platform, will have expansive digital and highlight rights;
  • Turner Sports will have TV Everywhere rights that will allow its networks to make these matches and related programming available to authenticated subscribers across all WarnerMedia platforms;
  • The agreement also includes additional content and storytelling opportunities throughout the WarnerMedia portfolio, eCommerce rights, the possibility of integrating sports betting experiences, among others.

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.