The US broadcast right’s for Italy’s top soccer division Serie A are on the market again, and they are generating much more interest this time around. The games had been shown in the States on beIN Sports, but bigger players have entered the picture in 2018, likely because of the pending Serie A debut of Cristiano Ronaldo.
The top bidders for the rights are ESPN and Turner. Both companies would likely look for Serie A to fill some programming holes on their over-the-top streaming services (ESPN+ and B/R Live), but Turner may be in the best position to offer Serie A a spot on basic cable.
ESPN’s weekends in the fall are already filled with college football. The Serie A season also stretches into a time when ESPN would be showing college basketball. That isn’t a problem for Turner, who’s only weekend afternoon sports content is MLB games in the second half of the season.
World Soccer Talk presumes the US TV rights to Serie A will again be packaged with the rights to England’s FA Cup. The prime placement presumably makes Turner the favorite, but having Serie A and the FA Cup to package with MLS, the EFL Championship, and the Cabaro Cup could make the appeal of turning ESPN+ into the go to streaming destination for soccer fans enough for Disney to put big money into its bid.