NBC Universal Confirms Acquisition of Premier League Rights In US From 2013-16

UPDATED: NBC Universal has acquired the exclusive US media rights to the Premier League from 2013-2014 to 2015-2016 for a fee that is believed to be $83 million per season. Per the agreement, NBCUniversal becomes the exclusive English- and Spanish-language media rights holder to all 380 Premier League matches across all platforms and devices in the United States.

As part of the plans that NBC has for bringing the Premier League to viewers in the US, the free-to-air NBC network plans on broadcasting 18-20 live EPL matches a season primarily on Saturdays.

“The Barclays Premier League is the preeminent soccer league in the world, and is on the cusp of exponential popularity growth here in the U.S.,” said Mark Lazarus, Chairman, NBC Sports Group. “NBCU will provide the broadest programming and promotional commitment that the league has ever experienced here in the United States. The Premier League provides NBCU with best-in-class content for 10 months of the year across our far-reaching broadcast, cable and digital platforms. This is a perfect match.”

“The NBC Sports Group has an excellent track record in sports broadcasting and will showcase the Barclays Premier League to fans across the USA through its extensive network of channels and high quality production,” said Premier League Chief Executive, Richard Scudamore. “We are extremely pleased that NBC has chosen to invest in the Premier League and look forward to working with them for many years to come.”

Each of the 20 Premier League teams plays 38 matches over a 41-week period from August to May. Although specific programming details will be announced at a later date, NBC, NBC Sports Network, and NBCSports.com will all be utilized to present live Premier League coverage, as well as Telemundo and mun2 for Spanish-language coverage. Additional NBCUniversal platforms and networks will occasionally be scheduled to air Premier League matches, while NBC Sports Live Extra will provide the live streaming platform across web, tablet and mobile devices.

The NBC Sports Group will also produce comprehensive shoulder programming around its live-event coverage of the Premier League, including pre- and post-match shows, as well as highlight and weekly wrap-up programs. It is also developing a package to make sure the most avid fans have access to every Premier League match.

According to SI.com, “NBC Chairman Mark Lazarus said NBC Sports Network will be the primary carrier of EPL games and that EPL fans will have access to every game on the schedule through an NBC platform. ‘It will not be unlike the Olympics where you saw programming on CNBC, Bravo, USA or MSNBC,’ Lazarus said. ‘We are working to make it a consistent schedule so fans know exactly where to find games. But the Premier League fan will be able to get to every game live.'”

Lazarus added that the Premier League games that are played mid-week will be made available digitally or with MVPDs (multichannel video programming distributors) on some sort of pay television package.

The SI.com article also reported that NBC has “already had early talks with BT (formally British Telecom), which acquired a set of the UK rights to the EPL, and the two could partner on production. As far as broadcasting talent, a subject of fanatical concern for soccer fans, Lazarus said he thinks NBC has some talent on its roster that will translate well but he will be in acquisition mode. The network has an exceptional soccer play by play announcer in Arlo White and it’s a near-guarantee he will play a significant role on EPL broadcasts.”

“We think Arlo fits very nicely, and we are working to see who fits this content,” Lazarus said. “I don’t think you can take someone calling an MLS game on a regional sports network, put them on an English Premier League game and have the same tone that the fan is accustomed to. We believe in the indigenous voice. And the fact we have Arlo doing our games speaks to that. We think that there is a tone and tact that the international soccer fan expects and we will not disappoint.”

NBC beat FOX-ESPN, beIN SPORT, IMG and Discovery Networks to win the rights.

What are your thoughts regarding the developments?

46 thoughts on “NBC Universal Confirms Acquisition of Premier League Rights In US From 2013-16”

  1. Biggest thing is access to matches. Glad to hear early on that access to all matches will be available. And NBC has a streaming platform that has been used and exposed to heavy traffic (Olympics). So hopefully we won’t have reliability issues as with Fox Soccer’s web apps over the years. Or no streaming option at all (Bein…)

    Scramble for talent will be interesting. Arlo White is a good voice. If they use him as their lead, I certainly hope he goes live to matches, which would mean the end of him on MLS.

  2. Here is some more breaking news.

    Everything said sounds good. Lets hope NBC can deliver the final product. From what was said, I am hopeful that things will be even better than under FOX.

    I like the NBCs vision to beef up the Pre and post game (snatch up Ian Darke please) and also provide a streaming platform which could be as good as FOX Soccer 2 Go. Who knows, we may get better production and more free to air programming than ever. I can only hope.

  3. I suspect NBC will learn the hard way a bit like ESPN did before they got the formula right with English commentators and decent pre/post match analysis. I also hate the way games will be scattered across the various networks. You won’t see Wigan too often on their flagship channels but they might show up tape delayed on CNBC. No doubt NBC have the financial clout to do every bit as good as job as ESPN and at least as good as FSC. But they will soon lose interest if they don’t get the audience they are expecting for $83 million. It could be 3 and out and then back to ESPN/FSC.

    1. I suspect NBC will blow away people’s expectations. They have consistently proven to be the best sports broadcaster. They always do a tremendous job with their sports properties, NFL-SNF, NHL, MLS, Golf, Tennis, Triple Crown, and NBA back in the 90s.

    2. That’s a ridiculously cynical assessment.

      They’ve already said THERE WILL BE NO TAPE DELAY. Every game will be made available to watch in one way or another, I’m guessing via streaming.

      And I don’t get the logic of “they will soon lose interest.” They just paid a ridiculous sum of money, proabably more than anyone in the tv industry ever guessed a non-American sports league could ever garner for tv rights.

      Its in their interest that this succeed. Also Cable TV is not so much about mass audience as it is about demographics and having lots of content. Cable TV is all about having lots of DVR proof content that’s why even MLS will get a big contract in the near future.

  4. Well for EPL fans its all good news. No word yet if those NBC dates will be in a more US friendly time? Say 6:00pm Sunday UK time. NBC is know to ask for those concessions for the money they pay. Glad to here a big role for Arlo White. I would expect some of the ESPN and FSC will be made part of the crew.

    Still a bit sad for FSC.

    1. Arlo White please listen to Ian Darke if you want to listen to a professional.i just hope they don’t program to the least common denominator and treat us like we have never watched a match.please do not try and Americanize the EPL it will not work.


    2. i don’t they’ve ever done 6pm local kick-offs for sunday matches since the start of the Premiership in 1992, i doubt its gonna start next season, besides SKY and BT would determine that, not NBC.

      1. Exactly. NBC, like any other international rights holder, just settles for what they’re given kick off wise. 6pm Sunday kick off will not be happening any time soon for a couple of reasons.

        1. And one of these reasons, I believe, is to cater to the people living in the Eastern part of the world, such as South-East Asia. These areas are significant for the market as they contain many soccer fans too.

          1. Along with the more logistical UK reasons involving police, travel etc, there is also a marketing and commercial viewpoint that games kicking off any later than 2pm UK time will stray into the early hours in the all important Asian market. The 12.45pm slot is primetime viewing in Asia.

    3. Arlo White…BARF!!! I will be watching whatever match he is not commenting on.

      If White is NBCU’s idea of an “indigenous voice” this is going to be a loooooong boring three years!!!!

  5. I’m cautiously optimistic. From the press release, it sounds like some games will be on NBC but I expect most to be on NBC Sports Network. They could also utilize other channels such as USA Network which would be similar to Fox showing some Champions League games on FX.

  6. I am so happy NBC-Universal won the rights, if Fox Soccer could not get it, this is the next best option. I was dreading a fight with Comcast to get the HD English version of BeIN Sports. Now we can relax knowing it will be on NBC, and NBC Sports and other networks which are available in HD on most platforms.

    1. It appears its all live or ppv like Fox Soccer 2GO? NBC had good audiences for live events during the Olympics but I still think they would like a bit later start times on Sundays.

    2. New York Times
      “There will be live, exclusive games, and we’re not going to tape delay any of them,” said Mark Lazarus, the chairman of the NBC Sports Group. “Multiple games go on at once, and we can’t carry every one on our networks. But we won’t regionalize games.”

      Apparently games will be available online and in other packages like pay per view.

  7. In the interview with SI they said the games in NBC would be aired live.

    Plus they already have other sports for their afternoon spots. Golf (spring and fall), NHL (spring), college football (fall) so I doubt they would delay any broadcast.

  8. This is great news. I’m glad NBC won the rights. They have enough channels to spread around the matches and they have the capability for streaming. I’m happy as well the matches will be aired live. The biggest question now is what will happen to Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Soccer Channel Plus? This could signal the end of Fox Soccer Channel. I don’t see how they continue next year with just the Scottish Premier League and Champions League. They can use their regional sports networks and FX for Champions League matches. It will be interesting to see what happens.

  9. “As part of the plans that NBC has for bringing the Premier League to viewers in the US, the free-to-air NBC network plans on broadcasting 18-20 live EPL matches a season primarily on Saturdays.”

    18 -20 on free to air! that is great news for the BPL, Access to games looks like it will be as good as it was and more. Lets hope the On-air talent will do it justice.

    Bring it on!

  10. I think most likely the 12:45p Saturday games will be the ones picked up by NBC on the main network. Usually NBC Golf doesn’t start coverage till 3p on the weekends. Stations on the west coast air NBC’s kids programming from 9:30a to 12p which can be DB’d to another time period during the weekend. Only a couple of NBC stations have local newscasts that would have to be completely pre-empted or would have to be cut to air the Premier League on Saturdays.

  11. There was a lot of doom and gloom around here when ESPN / FOX lost their bid and not much optimism on NBC providing as good of coverage. Based on what NBC is saying, it’s going to be better than ever. When a lot of us were heralding FOX for growth of soccer in the past few years will NBC can potentially grow it exponentially more.

    •All games will be live
    •Most on NBC’s main channels (no high tier cable packages)
    •core fans will have access to every game (streaming?)
    •probably more main network channel broadcasts than FOX
    •Pre and post game shoulder (more ESPN and less FOX please)

      1. it was during half-time of the Sunday Night Football broadcast, all they did was have Bob Costas (after interviewing Hines Ward) announce that “starting august 2013 NBC sports group will home of the english premier league, widely considered to be the best soccer league in the world” then showed a short video package similar to the ones shown on FOX Soccer (______ lives here) of premier league highlights of the past few seasons. Then just showed a photo of the Premier League Logo, 2013 below it and the NBC Sports logo below that.

  12. They must stick with the announcer feed from the island instead of giving us a new group of guys who are way out of their league.

    1. “…guys who are way out of their league…” Can you say “Arlo White?”

      White is a dieters dream…listen to him and you can’t keep any food down!!!

  13. I wonder how the co-production between NBC and BT would work. Would that be like getting reporters at the grounds like Fox Soccer is doing this year or if it would be more.

    1. BT have been in talks with loads of companies about production. They don’t do any of their own TV production because they’re a phone and broadband operator primarily, so they’re after somebody to produce their football and rugby matches for them. Can’t see them using NBC though… Have a feeling they’ll end up working with ITV.

  14. I hope they pick up Ian Darke too (I, for one, like Arlo White just fine), who is “the Voice” of the EPL in America — I understand his contract is up in May…though ESPN undoubtedly would still want him for 2014 and the World Cup.

    On a lighter note, this opens up the possibility of something I’ve always thought would be a hilarious and scary experiment…Mike “Doc” Emrich doing an EPL game and listening to him tell stories about a players early days in the Blue Square Premier league.

  15. I suppose in regard to FoxSoccer and Plus, The Championship Division in England is going to appear a lot more often (I think the Champions League and the pending World Cups will keep FSC operating)

    Good news for all those Americans who are rabid Barnsley or Millwall fans (are there any Millwall fans who are not also incidentally rabid?)

    More Rugby too.

  16. Wow, some half decent news at last, I really thought Be-in was going to take over everything.
    I just hope Time Warner will get NBC Universal sports back.
    I never thought Fox did a good job with soccer in general. They treated Serie A like junk, and Fox Soccer Plus is not worth it.

  17. I’m really surprised that Fox got out bid here. They’ve invested in the CL and World Cup, but not to follow up and retain the Premier League is bad business. I can’t imagine how Fox Soccer Plus exists after 2013. I’m assuming they’ll show the CL games on FX or FuelTV. I hope FSC continues to show Sky Sports News…as I think it’s best sports news show in the world. Way better than Sportscenter.

    I find Ian Darke totally overrated. I don’t understand why he gets so much love. Quite frankly he’s annoying. But I like Macca. I really hope NBC doesn’t screw it up.

    FSC does it right with keeping the native announcers for their games. It’s a formula that works here.

    For their pre/post game shows they should recruit Warren Barton. Although he’s a bit stiff, you know he loves the game, and gives good analysis. He’s grown on me. Eric Wynalda isn’t bad either…but no big deal if he goes over to NBC or not. Brian McBride is in over his head, so he can stay. Kyle Martino is no good either. Alexi can stay at ESPN.

  18. What really(!) needs shoulder programming on NBCSN is MLS.

    Sure, they added “MLS36” in midseason…but that’s it. The game telecasts exist in a 2-1/2-hour “island” of sorts, and are context-free to the typical US sports fan.

    To remedy that, NBCSN should introduce things like weekly soccer news-in-review shows, whether MLS-specific (which would be nice) or even (in addition?) with a more global perspective.

    Without this, fans who don’t avidly follow the game are left to wonder just what the significance is of a particular match, and might then decide to tune it out.

    Hopefully, this gets sparked now in time for 2013…

  19. Also, what about NBCU’s Universal Sports network which (maybe I missed it?) wasn’t noted in any of the articles I saw here on EPL Talk or in comments that followed them?

    Until about a year or so ago, this channel, which airs “Olympic sports” competitions like IAAF’s Diamond League, various marathons, pro cycling events like the Giro & Vuelta, and more, was shown for “free” on the digital channels of NBCU stations.

    However, at the start of the year, NBCU changed that policy and started to want to charge for the service, taking it off of various providers’ systems.

    What does this acquisition mean for Universal Sports, then? Is it doomed (because of not being prominently mentioned as an outlet for these games)? Is it actually going to be an outlet? What do we know?


  20. Don’t be so sure Of a game Of the week On over the air NBC. There could be Very heavy local station resistance. Fox Found that out.

  21. Have to agree that NBC just need to re-broadcast what is shown in Britain, including using the British commentators. Seriously, I would rather have the game on mute than listen to American commentators thinking they know EVERYTHING about the game and never f’ing commentate about what is going on on the field. And all the yanks that say I don’t know what I’m talking about…would you EVER have English commentators commentating on American P*ssyBall?

    Also, don’t go hiring a single muppet from FSC (esp. Barton).

    Lastly, I find it freaking ironic that after 5 years of not having FSC in HD, Comcast finally get around to turning it on in December. And oh, who own the majority stake in NBC…oh, it’s Comcast! I’m guessing they are not happy with FOX and Murdoch :)

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