CBS Thinks Free Streaming Golazo Soccer Channel Will Kick Up New Viewers
With big U.S. media companies scrambling for soccer rights, Paramount Global wants to kick things up a notch.
The company’s CBS Sports on April 11 will debut a 24-hour free streaming network dedicated to global soccer coverage. CBS Sports Golazo Network will launch with analysis, highlights, a range of game broadcasts, and its own morning program. “Morning Footy” will run weekdays from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. eastern and will be led by host Susannah Collins along with former U.S. Men’s National Team player Charlie Davies, analyst Nico Cantor and “The Cooligans” soccer personality and comedian Alexis Guerreros. Reporter Jenny Chiu will provide updates.
U.S. soccer fans want a place to turn on the TV in the morning and see what happened the previous night, with highlights adn with news and analysis and all the things you get from a core U.S. sport,” says Jeff Gerttula, executive vice president of digital for CBS Sports and CBS News and Stations, in an interview. Although many companies have snapped up soccer rights in recent years, Paramount executives “came to the conclusion that there was a market gap” for fans who wanted more than just games.
CBS Sports will launch the new service as soccer has gained allure among big media companies that recognize the power of sports in luring the large, live crowds that advertisers, affiliates and distributors still want — even as the rise of streaming splits the mass-viewing of traditional TV into individual binge-sessions. Apple struck a ten-year deal with Major League Soccer to stream every league game starting this year. ESPN and NBC Sports also have soccer pacts.
Paramount has in recent years worked to snap up a rights portfolio. In August, the company renewed its US media rights to Champions League football matches in a deal said to be valued at more than $1.5 billion over six years. What’s more, Paramount+ has the rights to Serie A, Europa League, Europa Conference League, Asian Football Confederation, CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying, NWSL, Scottish Premiership and others.
When it launches, Golazo will be available free on CBSSports.com, the CBS Sports app for connected TV devices, the CBS Sports mobile app and Pluto TV, as well as Paramount+.
Programming on the streaming outlet will not stick solely to coverage of Paramount’s rights portfolio, says Gerttula. Soccer fans “want to be treated like every other sports treats its fans,” he says, and the sport’s younger base is eager to learn more about games in South America, for example, and other places to which it may not have direct access.
Executives plan more original programming as time goes by, says Gerttula. “We have a lot of ideas, and I think you will see more announcements as it progresses.”
CBS has worked over the years to create a broader group of free, ad-supported streaming hubs, including CBS Sports HQ. Launch of the new soccer product takes place just weeks before Paramount and its media rivals will see to sell billions of dollars in advertising inventory as part of the industry’s annual “upfront” market.
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