American sports fans jonesing for a live game of any kind during this age of the coronavirus may take some delight from the announcement Thursday that ViacomCBS has reached a multi-platform agreement making the CBS All Access and CBS Sports OTT streaming platforms the exclusive English-language home in the U.S. for European soccer’s UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and UEFA Europa Conference League from August 2020 to 2024.

The first programs are slated to begin in August with the 2019-2020 UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League across multiple platforms, according to a joint announcement.

In addition to streaming the games, the giant media corporation’s OTA broadcast operation’s CBS Television Network and CBS Sports Network will air select matches over the course of the agreement period; The direct-to-consumer subscription CBS All Access streaming app will then present all games and programming live and on-demand. This will include more than 300 UEFA matches each season, the announcement said.

Matches will begin with the resumption of the 2019-2020 UEFA Champions League season and the UEFA Europa League, along with the UEFA Super Cup. It will then continue for 2021-2022 with all UEFA Europa Conference League matches.

The timing of the announcement is especially significant as the infection rate of COVID-19 spikes almost daily with new record numbers across the United States, putting in some doubt the chances for the resumption of professional sports in the United States this year, despite what the various professional leagues say they may be planning for the rest of this summer and fall.

No mention was made of what broadcast resolution format CBS All Access will use to present the games. However, past UEFA Championships were available in Europe and the U.K. in 4K Ultra HD dating to the 2015 Championship. BT Sport presented last-year’s UEFA Champions League finale in 4K Ultra HD, but without HDR.

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In taking on the sport, which historically has been hugely popular seemingly everywhere but in the U.S., Viacom CBS said it expects to attract a young, diverse audience to its platforms and the sport.

Coverage will begin in August with the remaining Round of 16 matches for the 2019-2020 UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League, followed by the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final in a straight knockout tournament.

The three-year deal was originally expected to start with the 2021-2022 season, but CBS and European football governing body UEFA agreed to add the conclusion of the 2019-2020 season as well as the entire 2020-2021 season.

According to CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus: “Using a multi-platform approach across our broadcast, cable and digital assets, this partnership will leverage the power of ViacomCBS and CBS Sports to elevate and grow UEFA’s reach in the United States.”

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By Greg Tarr

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