In an upset, NBC’s networks have won the rights to the televise the English Premier League in the U.S. in a three-year deal that begins next season. NBC beat out Fox/ESPN buy paying just under $250 million,.
“The Barclays Premier League is the pre-eminent soccer league in the world, and is on the cusp of exponential popularity growth here in the U.S.,” NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus said Sunday.
After launching its cable channel NBC Sports Network last year, NBC has been aggressively building up its sports portfolio and it has previously picked up the rights to Major League Soccer games.
According to Lazarus, NBC Sports Network will televise six live games a week. One or two of the company’s other cable channels will also be used, Lazarus said, but which has not been determined yet as schedules are evaluated. Other games will be streamed live online.
The previous three-year EPL deal with Fox, that saw some matches sublicensed to ESPN, was worth about $80 million, so this is a huge jump in rights fees. NBC Sports Network is in about twice as many homes in the U.S. as Fox Soccer but about 20 percent fewer than ESPN.
The tripling of the U.S. rights shows the demand for the Premier League worldwide. The EPL has sold its TV rights in Britain to BSkyB and BT for 3.018 billion pounds ($4.86 billion) in a record three-year deal from the 2013-14 season.
I wonder what this means to Fox Soccer Channel. They have now lost Serie A, MLS and the Premier League. With beIN Sport owning the right to La Liga and the French Ligue 1, I wonder how FSC will fill its 24 hours of programming.