U.S. Soccer’s 30-year deal with ESPN ended in 2022. What does this mean for fans eager to continue watching the USWNT?
In March 2022, U.S. Soccer and WarnerMedia (now Warner Bros. Discovery) announced an eight-year deal to give TNT/TBS and HBO Max the rights to air U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Team games.
The $200 million deal will result in over 20 U.S. Soccer games being live streamed on HBO Max each year, starting Jan. 17. While these matches will always be available to stream, TNT or TBS will televise half—around 10 games per year.
Tournaments including USWNT and USMNT World Cup qualifiers, the SheBelieves Cup, and the U.S. Open Cup will all be shown on Warner Bros. Discovery’s subsidiary channels. The USMNT is anticipated to automatically qualify for the 2026 World Cup as a host, but the 2030 qualifying tournament will be included in the deal.
Besides televising matches, Turner Sports, Bleacher Report, House of Highlights, B/R Football, and HighlightHER now have the right to share live event coverage.
U.S. Soccer Federation will earn between $25 and $27 million every year with this new agreement. It is the first time that the federation sold rights that weren’t bundled with those of the MLS, allowing U.S. Soccer to keep financial gains independent of the MLS and Soccer United Marketing.
Will games be streamed elsewhere?
The only matches that WBD doesn’t have rights to are World Cup matches, as they will still be broadcast on Fox. Friendlies and the SheBelieves Cup will stream on HBO Max, with TNT and TBS airing the most competitive games. As 2023 progresses, a full broadcasting schedule will be finalized and shared as quickly as possible, according to U.S. Soccer.
Who will commentate?
For the Jan. 17 and Jan. 20 matches between the USWNT and New Zealand, Luke Wileman and Julie Foudy will supply play-by-play commentary and Melissa Ortiz will be live in New Zealand to share coverage. There will additionally be studio coverage from Sara Walsh, Shannon Boxx, DaMarcus Beasley, and Foudy.
So how do I watch?
The USWNT takes on New Zealand Jan. 17 and Jan. 20 at 10:00 p.m. EST. For access to all USWNT games including those this week, you will have to purchase an HBO Max subscription. Their plans start at $9.99 per month including ads, and the ad-free plan is $15.99 per month.
TNT and TBS are both cable channels, but can be streamed through other platforms. They are available on Hulu with Live TV, YouTube TV, FuboTV, DirecTV Stream, as well as a few Sling TV packages including SlingTV Blue, SlingTV Orange, and SlingTV Orange + Blue.