ESPN Lands Rights to Euro 2012, 2016

By Noah Davis 

ESPN continues to get serious about this soccer thing.

After a successful World Cup, the Worldwide Leader purchased the rights to the 2012 and 2016 European Championship. The tournament – considered by most to be better quality than the World Cup – will feature 16 teams in ’12 and expand to 24 in ’16. The event will be held in Poland/Ukraine and France, respectively.

“Euro is a perfect counterbalance to World Cup, so strategically it makes sense for us,” Scott Guglielmino, ESPN’s senior vice president for programming, told the Associated Press in a telephone interview. “The passion involved in national team play at the highest level is something that’s incredibly powerful, unlike anything else.”

The ESPN family of networks will broadcast every match after showing seven on ESPN and 17 on ESPN2 during the 2008 Euro. ABC televised the final between Spain and Germany.

According to the AP story, “ESPN also said it had obtained U.S. rights to numerous Euro qualifiers, including home games of Spain, Germany, France and the Netherlands, as well as games involving England, Italy, Ireland, Scotland and Portugal. As part of the deal, and ESPN Deportes will televise the 2013 UEFA Women’s Championship and the 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017 UEFA under-21 championships.”

There’s a bit of bad news for American soccer fans, however.ESPN will not show this summer’s Copa America, the South American championship.

From the article: “Guglielmino said ESPN had withdrawn its offer for English-language U.S. rights to this summer’s Copa America after Traffic Sports, the company that owns them, sold American Internet rights separately.”

ESPN had huge success broadcasting the World Cup games online and was smartly unwilling to commit to a deal that didn’t include the ability to broadcast over the Web.

American viewers can catch the Copa America matches on Univision, which holds the Spanish language rights in the U.S.