UEFA Champions League Final: CBS Sports Hits the Road With Live Studio Show in Paris
The production and announce teams will be onsite; some support will be remote
CBS Sports heads across the pond this weekend to Stade de France in suburban Paris for live onsite coverage of the UEFA Champions League Final on Saturday. CBS and Paramount+ will broadcast a live 90-minute pre-match studio show along with halftime and post-match coverage. In addition, CBS Sports will have its announcers and pitch-side reporters onsite for the match.
With the Champions League Final stadium at full capacity for the first time since 2019, Pete Radovich, creative director/coordinating producer, soccer coverage, CBS Sports, calls Saturday’s production the culmination of two years of work since CBS acquired the Champions League rights.
“We’ve been waiting for this since day one, which is almost two years ago. This is best-case scenario for us, so we’re over-the-moon excited about it,” he says. “It’s something that you dream of when you work in this industry, and you work in this sport to be at a Champions League Final. For it to be in Paris is just an absolute no-brainer [to be onsite]. Once it was announced [that it would be] moved to Paris, we put all the wheels in motion.”
CBS will have its largest onsite presence for a Champions League match to date, including a new set that was created specifically for the final and received a dynamic position at the venue courtesy of UEFA. The production team is fully onsite in Paris, with production support in both London and Paris. Host Kate Abdo and analysts Thierry Henry, Jamie Carragher, and Micah Richards will handle studio duties for pre-match, halftime, and post-match shows.
In addition, reporters Peter Schmeichel, Jules Breach, Guillem Balagué, and Jenny Chiu will be pitch-side and contribute to pre/post-match coverage. Match commentator Clive Tyldesley and analyst Rob Green will be onsite. CBS Sports rules expert Christina Unkel will be remote from New York.
“Starting all of this in the middle of a pandemic when, basically, we had our hands tied behind our back to start [was challenging],” Radovich recounts. “Half of the studios were shut, and travel was tough. Given the circumstances of where we started and how we had to start, I’m very pleased [at where we are now], but I know that we’re going to get better.”
With a mix of authentic on-air personalities and fan-favorite segments like “In the Mixer,” Radovich believes, CBS Sports’ Champions League studio show is finally hitting its stride as it closes out Year 2 of its rights package.
“I’m proud of the fact that a simple segment like ‘In the Mixer’ can do so well and can be so well-received,” he says. “But all it is, is asking these guys questions and finding that next two, three segment ideas that work well and resonate with the audience.
“With Champions League,” he continues, “I think we’re pretty much established now, and we’ve finally found our groove. We have the team in place. We’re happy with the chemistry. I would put this show up against any show on sports television in America. I would put our talent, our announcers, our crew up against anything that’s out there. The bar is going keep getting higher and higher. For us, it’s just getting better and better.”
As CBS looks to continue to ramp up its Champions League coverage — and soccer coverage overall —viewers can expect more-frequent onsite productions like the one they will see this weekend at Stade de France, Radovich says.
“The biggest thing is going to be figuring out a way to get on the road more often,” he says. “For me, that’s the new frontier, because we have been battling COVID and now with the final in a full stadium. Remember, last year, [when] we did the final, it wasn’t even a full stadium. We weren’t there. We were in London because of restrictions. Now, knock wood, it seems that the doors are open to full stadiums and full coverage. I think the next frontier for us is going to be doing road games [and] taking the studio on the road — go to Germany, go to Barcelona, go to Italy. That to me is what the next thing is.”