Germany's premier soccer league, the Bundesliga, will begin its new season on September 18 — here's how to watch live on ESPN+

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  • The Bundesliga, Germany's top soccer league, will begin its 2020-21 season on September 18 with a match between FC Schalke 04 and FC Bayern Munich. 
  • ESPN will stream the entirety of the Bundesliga 2020-21 season through the ESPN+ streaming service.
  • Select games, including the season opener, will also be broadcast on the ESPN cable channel.
  • ESPN+ is available for $5.99 a month, or $49.99 per year for an annual plan.

 

For the first time in the streaming service's history, ESPN+ will broadcast German Bundesliga soccer to US audiences. ESPN succeeds Fox Sports who previously owned broadcasting rights in the United States from 2015-20. While Fox's soccer broadcasting aided in growing the sport in the United States, the network's coverage occasionally left something to be desired. 

This was especially troublesome with games played after the league's restart in May. These matches were shown without any pregame or postgame coverage. Additionally, the network neglected to show games on its main Fox channel, despite the Bundesliga being the only major sports league to conduct play at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. 

ESPN will usher in a new era of Bundesliga coverage in the US. Speaking at the announcement of their agreement, Bundesliga International CEO Robert Klein said of ESPN, "It was clear from the start that ESPN and ESPN+ shared our ambitious vision. As innovators in the sports industry, we're both driven to deliver highly engaging content for fans." 

The Bundesliga has long been appealing to US audiences because of its teams' tendency to recruit American players. Most notably, and to the surprise of many, Christian Pulisic got his start with Borussia Dortmund in 2016. He played a significant role for Dortmund until he signed with Chelsea FC in 2019. Similarly, Weston Mckennie helped guide Schalke to one of the club's most successful seasons in 2017. His consistent performances for Schalke earned him a move to Italian giants Juventus this summer. 

In their shadow now stands yet another American, Giovanni Reyna, who is looking to break through with the Bundesliga. While Reyna occasionally featured for Borussia Dortmund at the end of the 2020 season, his strong preseason will have him in serious contention for a leading role in this year's team. ESPN recently told Reyna's story on an edition of SportsCenter.

Updated on 9/14/2020 by Andrew Severin: This article has been completely revised with new details about the 2020-21 Bundesliga season and ESPN+ streaming rights.

How to watch the Bundesliga 2020-21 season on ESPN+

ESPN+ will stream all of the Bundesliga's more than 300 matches during the 2020-21 season. The new season kicks off on September 18 at 2:30 p.m. ET, when Bayern Munich hosts Schalke. ESPN cable channels, such as ESPN and ESPN Deportes, will also feature select Bundesliga matches throughout the season, including the opening game. 

With that said, other specific games scheduled for broadcast on ESPN have not been not been announced yet. In order to ensure you have access to all of the Bundesliga matches, you'll need to subscribe to ESPN+. In addition to live games, ESPN+ will also offer Bundesliga coverage on its ESPN FC show throughout the season.

ESPN+ costs $5.99 a month, or $49.99 per year if you pay for an annual plan. I've mentioned before that this is a favorite deal of mine, as ESPN+ subscribers can access more than 2,000 soccer matches per year from leagues around the world.

For those who crave even more streaming content, ESPN+ is also available as part of a discounted bundle with Hulu and Disney Plus. The bundle costs $12.99 a month, which is about $6 less than you'd pay if you signed up for each service separately. 

You can access ESPN+ on most major mobile devices, media players, and connected TV devices, including Amazon Fire, Apple, Android, Chromecast, PS4, Xbox One, Roku, Samsung smart TVs, and more.

Major Bundesliga storylines

Robert Lewandoski dribbles past Dayot Upamecano of Red Bull Leipzig in Bundesliga play.Getty Images Europe

This Bundesliga season, much like the previous seven, begins with a conversation about the dominance of Bayern Munich. After the previous season restarted in May, Munich rattled off 10 straight wins to achieve the Bundesliga title. 

A week after this victory, Munich won another trophy. This time the team defeated Bayern Leverkusen in the DFB Pokal Final to secure the domestic double. The squad followed up that stellar run of play by capturing the Champions League trophy in August when it defeated Paris Saint-Germain. In strengthening its roster this summer with the addition of highly rated winger Leroy Sane, Bayern Munich looks poised to push on for an eighth straight Bundesliga championship.

Bayern Munich's closest competition is likely to be Borussia Dortmund. Despite hanging close to Munich for most of the season, Dortmund eventually finished 13 points behind the champions. For this season, Dortmund was able to bolster its roster with the additions of 17-year-old Jude Bellingham and 18-year-old Reiner. With those two players, a full season of Erling Haaland leading the line, and the return of Marco Reus, Dortmund now has the talent to contend with Bayern Munich. 

Lining up behind Bayern Munich and Dortmund are the likes of Red Bull Leipzig, Borussia Monchengladbach, FC Bayern Leverkusen, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, and VfL Wolfsburg. Leipzig looked the closest to joining the elites of the Bundesliga last season. However, this year they may struggle to produce goals after losing striker Timo Werner to Chelsea.

Every team in the Bundesliga is competing for the top four positions in the league standings. The top four teams in the Bundesliga all qualify for the UEFA Champions League group stage. The Champions League is the top Europe-wide competition, and with qualification comes significant financial benefits.

This should be a very exciting Bundesliga campaign. The league is home to the best team in Europe, recruited new stars to its borders, and was the highest scoring league in Europe last year. 

 

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