ESPN to broadcast NextGen Series
ESPN has acquired multimedia rights to football's NextGen Series, a six month European competition featuring the future stars of football.
The series will showcase the best young talent from 24 of Europe's top clubs, including Premier League champions Manchester City, La Liga giants Barcelona, Scudetto winners Juventus and big-spending French club PSG.
ESPN starts its coverage of NextGen with Inter Milan vs Borussia Dortmund on September 26, with exclusivity to the series in the United States, Brazil, Latin America, the Caribbean, Oceania and the Middle East.
In all, ESPN International will telecast 18 matches on its television networks around the world this season, including the semi-finals and final. All NextGen matches will also be carried live on ESPN's broadband platforms ESPNPlay.com (the Caribbean and Latin America), WatchESPN (Brazil) and ESPN3.com (the Middle East and Oceania).
"The NextGen Series is a tremendous showcase for young talent developing at Europe's top football clubs," Mike Walters, vice president of programming at ESPN International, said. "In addition to getting a forecast of who may shine in Europe's top leagues and the UEFA Champions League in the near future, fans will get a first look at future internationals who may lead their countries at World Cup 2014 and Euro 2016."
Justin Andrews, co-founder of NextGen said: "We're delighted to be introducing NextGen to so many new territories outside Europe, and via such a great broadcaster. There is a clear appetite for NextGen across the globe, giving fans the chance to follow the future stars of football."
The clubs participating this season include some of the most recognised teams in Europe such as the aforementioned quartet, plus Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, Aston Villa, Athletic Bilbao, Inter Milan, Borussia Dortmund, Wolfsburg, Ajax, PSV, Marseille, Celtic United, Fenerbahce, Sporting Lisbon, Olympiakos, CSKA Moscow, Anderlecht, Molde and Rosenborg.
In the group stage, the 24 clubs are divided into six groups of four, and play home and away matches. The top two teams from each group advance, along with the top four third-place teams. These 16 teams compete in the single-leg knockout stage.
Now in its second year, graduates of the NextGen Series include 17-year-old winger Raheem Sterling of Liverpool, Aston Villa midfielder Gary Gardner, Ajax forward Davy Klaassen and Celtic striker Tony Watt.
Inter Milan won the inaugural NextGen Series earlier this year, with the Nerazzurri's Under-19s manager Andrea Stramaccioni promoted to first-team boss 24 hours after guiding his side to victory over Ajax.