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HBO Max gets into live sports with soccer deal

WarnerMedia’s streaming service HBO Max is officially getting into the live sports business as part of an eight-year deal with the U.S. Soccer Federation.

The deal, which Sports Business Journal pegs at more than $200 million, will see TNT/TBS and HBO Max air 20 U.S. Women’s and Men’s National Team matches annually beginning in 2023. About half of those matches will stream on HBO Max and air on TV, with the rest exclusive to the streaming platform.

The deal also includes digital and highlight rights for Turner’s Bleacher Report, as well as ancillary content like alternative broadcast feeds (think ESPN’s “Manningcast”) or programming like behind-the-scenes docuseries.

HBO Max becomes the latest mainstream streaming service to use sports to drive subscriber growth. Paramount’s Paramount+ streams NFL games, PGA golf, college football and March Madness basketball, and soccer, among other sports; meanwhile, NBCUniversal’s Peacock streams Premier League soccer, the Olympics, and WWE events, among others; Disney’s ESPN+, of course, has a wide menu of sports to stream, while Hulu has exclusive rights to some NHL hockey games.

Speaking of the NHL, Turner Sports’ seven-year deal, announced last year, gave the company the optionality to put some NHL games on HBO Max, though the company has yet to do so, as those rights won’t come into play until further into the agreement. The Hollywood Reporter

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