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The Champions League TV deal is awful

I want my soccer easily accessible, but I will not get it!

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Life is supposed to be getting easier, not more complicated, right? I mean technology has afforded us with soooooo many conveniences in life that we often take just about everything in life for granted.

  • “Ahhhhh, there’s no Wi-Fi signal....the HUMANITY!”
  • “Ugh, I have to have actually fast forward through the commercials on my DVR recording!”
  • “Why do I need to wait the full five seconds to hit the ‘Skip Ad’ button????”

Life in the year 2018 totally has its advantages...well, except when it comes to trying to watch the Champions League. Why exactly am I ranting? First, let’s examine the schedule:

One of the biggest changes that soccer fans will notice with the UEFA Champions League coverage for the 2018/19 season is the kickoff time. Instead of most of the matches kicking off at 2:45pm ET on a UEFA Champions League match day, they will be begin at either 12:55pm ET or 3pm ET, which will allow broadcasters to feature a double-header of soccer coverage (see below):

• Group Stage: Tuesday, Sept. 18, through Wednesday, Dec. 12, with weekly matches held Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 12:55 p.m. ET and 3 p.m. ET. All matches will be available on B/R Live, with one match per game window (two each day) televised on TNT,

• Round of 16: Tuesday, Feb. 12, through Wednesday, March 13, with matches on B/R Live and TNT each Tuesday and Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET

• Quarterfinals: Tuesday-Wednesday, April 9-10 and April 16-17, with live coverage on B/R Live and TNT at 3 p.m. ET

• Semifinals: Tuesday-Wednesday, April 30-May 1 and May 7-8, with matches on B/R Live and TNT at 3 p.m. ET

• Final: Saturday, June 1, at 3 p.m. ET on B/R Live and TNT

Okay, okay... You know, I can actually get behind this as a positive change! The move to have games go off at 12:55PM EST and 3:00PM EST is a good thing. Let’s give credit where it is due on that.

How we view the games, however, is the issue. Per the viewing platforms are not going to be advantageous for most fans in the United States:

Turner Sports has announced pricing details and more coverage plans for its B/R Live streaming service, which will be broadcasting every single game of the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League and Europa League competitions to viewers in the United States.

The pricing plans range from individual matches ($2.99 per game), a monthly subscription ($9.99) or an annual plan ($79.99).

With a subscription to the streaming service, you’ll have access to more than 340 live Champions League and Europa League games per season including everything from the Group Stage (beginning in September) through to the finals (in late May and early June). B/R Live also streams select matches from the Scottish Premiership, Belgium Jupiler League, Polish Cup and Swiss Cup. Bleacher Report Live is available online, as well as by downloading the B/R Live app through iTunes or Google Play, and/or via Apple TV, the Roku platform and Amazon Fire TV.

Trying to find an easy way to view things is inconvenient to say the least. If I want to watch the Bayern Munich game, where is it available? Great question. Try to decipher what this really means:

Benfica vs. Bayern Munich (UEFA Champions League Group Stage), 3pm, Univision Deportes app (use your fuboTV credentials to watch games via Univision Deportes stream) and B/R Live.

Basically what that tells me is that I have to buck up the $2.99 to B/R Live if I want to watch (and write about!) the game, which I will likely do because I am a sap. For as much as I’d love to justify getting the annual plan, I can’t see myself needing to juggle watching multiple games in each time slot.

For the Bundesliga and Bayern contingent, many of us are already forking over additional money for Fox Sports Match Pass and/or Fox Sports Plus. This is yet one more medium we need to purchase simply to watch games.

My strategy is to just cherry pick what I need to watch until the games appear on TNT. Regardless, it shouldn’t have to be this way. Turner has multiple channels showing mostly garbage programming during the Champions League game times.

Lionel Messi and FC Barcelona will be a popular choice for Turner Sports to broadcast in the United States.
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Today I’ve got the Barcelona-PSV Eindhoven match as my early game and Liverpool-Paris Saint-Germain for my late game. Good match-ups and maybe even the chance for great games, but I am very cynical about the scheduling for teams outside the trio of Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Juventus. It might be just me, but I’m not inclined to spend cash cafeteria style or via a subscription for any of the other games on today’s docket.

Tomorrow is where I really get bent. Ajax-AEK Athens (why?) airs first on TNT before AS Roma takes on Real Madrid. Turner is truly trying to exploit fan bases to get the best of both worlds. Achieving high ratings using teams like Real Madrid and Barcelona generates revenue via the television broadcast, while using the likes of Bayern, Manchester City, and Manchester United will push entire U.S. fanbases to the stream.

It’s a solid business move, but one that also alienates many of the fans, who are the lifeblood of any viewing audience. Surely, Turner will put the power clubs on rotation to achieve that perfect balance of TV ratings-generated revenue and streaming revenue, but it will assuredly leave some fans, who may not have the willingness or means to pay for the streaming out in the cold.

A more effective strategy to engage more viewers for Turner and the Champions League might have been to try and emulate what the NCAA does for the men’s basketball tournament. The opening round tournament games are basically broadcast from each CBS and Turner-owned channel to flood everyone’s television with a slew of games.

Instead, I’ll likely get to shell out $2.99 to watch Bayern play AEK Athens next month!

Anyway, you suck Turner.

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