HBO Max makes history tonight with its first-ever domestic live sporting event. Starting at 10 p.m. ET, U.S. subscribers can watch the U.S. Women’s Soccer National Team take on the New Zealand team, the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup co-host. The streamer will also air the follow-up match between the U.S. and New Zealand on January 20.
Along with live coverage of the matches, HBO Max will also give subscribers pre-game and post-game coverage, as well as replays. The pre-game show begins at 9:30 p.m. ET.
It’s also important to note that both HBO Max subscription tiers aren’t including any ads, a Warner Bros. Discovery spokesperson told TechCrunch.
Last week, the company announced its lineup of sports analysts, which includes National Soccer Hall of Famers Julie Foudy, DaMarcus Beasley and Shannon Boxx, along with former U.S. Men’s National Team player Kyle Martino. Soccer commentator Luke Wileman will provide play-by-play alongside Foudy. Melissa Ortiz, a former pro soccer player, will report live from Wellington, New Zealand.
As previously announced, the U.S. Soccer Federation and Turner Sports, a division of WarnerMedia, closed an eight-year multimedia rights agreement, making TNT and HBO Max the exclusive English-language home to more than 20 Women’s and Men’s National Team matches every year. The matches will all be simulcast on HBO Max, whereas TNT will broadcast several matches.
The deal doesn’t include the Women’s World Cup matches in 2023, which will be broadcast by Fox and Telemundo. However, it does include World Cup qualifiers, friendlies and competitions.
HBO Max will debut the U.S. Men’s National Team on January 25, when it livestreams the U.S. versus Serbia game. The team will play against Colombia on January 28, which will be broadcast by TNT.
Winning streaming rights to U.S. soccer is a big deal for the company. The streamer isn’t known for sports, so a domestic live sports offering will help HBO Max better compete with rivals in the sports space, such as Paramount+, Peacock, Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV+.
HBO Max is also working on a live hockey offering, thanks to a multi-year rights agreement with the National Hockey League (NHL). Last year, Turner Sports closed the deal, giving TBS and TNT the rights to broadcast regular-season games as well as Stanley Cup Playoff and Stanley Cup Final games.
HBO Max subscribers in Brazil and Mexico have access to live UEFA Champions League matches.