ESPN has acquired multimedia rights to the NextGen Series, a six month European competition featuring the future stars of football, from 24 renowned European clubs. Under the four-year agreement, beginning with the 2012-13 season and running until 2015-16, ESPN has exclusivity to the event in the United States, Brazil, Latin America, the Caribbean, Oceania and the Middle East.
ESPN starts its coverage of NextGen with Inter Milan vs. Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday, Sept. 26 at 1 PM ET, followed by Wolfsburg vs. Barcelona on Wednesday on October 3 at 11:30 AM ET. In all, ESPN International will telecast 18 matches on its television networks around the world this season, including the semifinals 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,” said Mike Walters, vice president, programming, ESPN International. “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 EURO2016.”
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.”
Several goal scorers have emerged in the current group stage this season, including England’s Chuba Akpom of Arsenal; Italian Stefano Padovan, the Juventus striker; France’s Nicholas Rajsel of Paris St. Germain; and Turkey’s Beykan Simsek of Fenerbahce.
The clubs participating this season include some of the most recognized teams in Europe such as Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, Aston Villa, Barcelona, Athletic Bilbao, Inter Milan, Juventus, Borussia Dortmund, Wolfsburg, Ajax, PSV, PSG, Marseille, Celtic, Fenerbahce, Sporting Lisbon, Olympiacos, 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.
You can follow the official tournament twitter account @NextGenSeries