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ESPN renew FA Cup media rights in USA for four more seasons

Published: Updated: 06:59, 22 May 2024
ESPN's portfolio already includes La Liga, Bundesliga, and Copa del Rey

ESPN has successfully extended its media rights deal for the English FA Cup matches in the USA, ensuring that fans can continue to enjoy this prestigious soccer competition until the end of the 2027/28 season.

The new deal will see ESPN+ continue to stream matches from the world’s oldest national soccer competition. The 2023/24 season saw a staggering 729 clubs compete across England and Wales, with top divisions joining later rounds. This weekend's final will feature Manchester City against Manchester United, marking the 143rd final since its inception in 1871.

In addition to securing rights for FA Cup coverage, ESPN+ also holds US broadcasting rights for several other prominent soccer leagues and competitions including DFB-Pokal, Copa del Rey, LaLiga, Bundesliga and Eredivisie matches among others.

Enhancements to FA Cup coverage on ESPN+

Over recent years, viewers have seen significant improvements in how they experience English FA Cup games on ESPN+. These enhancements include an added whip-around show and increased coverage of earlier round games. For instance, all third-round games of the 2024 FA Cup were streamed live on ESPN+, compared to only nine shown on domestic television within UK.

From next season onwards (2024/25), fans can look forward to even more action as ESPN+ plans to stream up-to-79 games per season.

Earlier this year marked a pivotal moment when changes were agreed upon by both Premier League and Football Association (FA) regarding future seasons starting from 2024/25:

  • All rounds will be played over weekends
  • No Premier League matches scheduled during weekends of quarterfinals or finals
  • Replays from first round proper are eliminated
  • Increased funding by Premier League towards grassroots football development, amounting to $169 million per season

EFL seeking compensation for new rule change

However, the decision to eliminate replays from the first round proper has sparked controversy. Critics argue that this will financially impact Championship clubs and lower-league clubs who often rely on replay revenues. In response, the English Football League (EFL) is seeking compensation.

The FA Cup rights renewal was facilitated through IMG, an agency appointed by FA for selling rights across North America and Caribbean regions. However, there are reports of Premier League showing interest in acquiring international rights for seasons beyond 2028/29.

While not confirmed yet, it's speculated that Premier League aims to bundle its own broadcasting rights with those of FA Cup into a single package. This move could potentially increase the value of these rights for broadcasters and further enhance viewership experience.

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