NBC Sports to Take the Premier League to the Next Level In the United States

Fans of Premier League clubs in the United States reached the promised land yesterday with the announcement that NBC Sports plans on showing every single game live, offering 600+ hours of original programming, hiring top talent such as Gary Lineker and having 20 matches shown live on free-to-air NBC in the first season.

The announcement, without a doubt, far exceeded my expectations. And certainly is a dream come true for soccer fans.

While I attended the press conference at 30 Rockefeller Center on Tuesday, I learned a great deal about NBC Sports’ commitment not only to the Premier League, but also to excellence. This is a network that’s steeped in history, but one that is continually trying to improve. Its focus on perfection was evident among the top brass at NBC Sports, who are focused on how they’ll let the game tell the story rather than having talking heads become the focus of attention. The team of presenters and commentators that they’ve hired are world-class, and shows an incredible commitment to letting soccer experts enhance the viewing experience instead of, as one example, having a basketball announcer and self-confirmed soccer novice call the games.

A key differentiator with NBC Sports is that they continually listen for feedback, both from viewers and pundits. They may not always agree with what we say but they assured me that they digest the feedback and, if appropriate, will seek to make improvements if and when necessary. As an example, I overheard a conversation within the corridors of NBC on Tuesday about how much influence the readers and views expressed on this very blog had helped NBC determine how to bring the Premier League to US audiences.

The path they’re taking is to deliver a quality product with a strong technical analysis of matches compared to the levity and talking heads that we see on FOX Soccer. While NBC’s approach should thrill hardcore EPL fans, I believe it’ll also win over the wider audience with informative analysis that will enrich the programming and keep viewers coming back for more. Unlike FOX Sports, NBC Sports will not talk down to its audience.

So far, NBC Sports hasn’t made a wrong move. Out of all of the announcements thus far in regards to talent, the one that I’m most excited about is the appointment of Graeme Le Saux. The man is incredibly gifted as an analyst, and should be a welcome addition to the commentator’s booth alongside rising star Arlo White. How Le Saux got overlooked for so long in the United Kingdom, I do not know.

Lee Dixon, while rough around the edges, will improve over time. He needs to break out of the cliche-filled pundit seat and continue to improve on his impressive co-commentary he gave alongside Gus Johnson in late February.

I’m a massive supporter of Rebecca Lowe. She’s smart, an excellent communicator and knows the game inside out. Having her present the Premier League to US audiences is an incredibly wise decision.

While Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle weren’t present at the press conference in New York City, veteran Premier League viewers will know that both of these men are extremely knowledgable in analyzing the game and sharing observations that we may otherwise miss.

The addition of Gary Lineker as a special contributor is the cherry on top of NBC’s Premier League coverage. His smooth and confident style will win over American audiences.

What the entire package of NBC programming and talent brings is authenticity — everything from commentators on-site in England, the use of the TWI/IMG world feed when NBC commentators aren’t there to the pundits they’ve hired to analyze the games for us. All of the pieces are in place for NBC Sports to bring the English Premier League to a much wider audience in the United States than ever before.

It’s going to take time to hit record TV ratings in the States, but I walked away from 30 Rockefeller Center completely confident that the Premier League is in excellent hands with NBC. Mistakes may happen, as they do at any major corporation, but NBC Sports proved that they’re taking the Premier League extremely seriously and will do their best to provide a world-class experience for the world’s best soccer league.

I personally cannot wait until the new season kicks off on August 17, and a new chapter in the history of European soccer on US television enters a golden age.

72 thoughts on “NBC Sports to Take the Premier League to the Next Level In the United States”

  1. It will be good for NBC to showcase the EPL on its free channel available to everyone for free. Let’s hope the local affiliates don’t do what Fox did and either show the games on delay or not at all. If the affiliates don’t show the games then those games should be available either on the net or their other sports channels.

    1. What, you think the Magic Pillow infomercial (what was shown in the Cleveland market) isn’t worth pre-empting an EPL match?

  2. It’s too bad that they didn’t announce an internet streaming package.

    No, the one they announced requires having cable with an approved provider because I know you will mention that one.

    1. This certainly is a hit and a miss. People who will love it will be people that get NBC Sports and have the Cable/Sat(?) company who will offer the other games live or the online package.

      Those who won’t are the people that don’t get NBC Sports or don’t want to pay a sharp premium for it or receive NBC Sports but don’t have access to the online content.

      Comcast has once again taken choice out of the hands of the consumer.

      1. OK Yespage, we all get that you are cheap. Please go tell your story elsewhere. I am sure we have all heard enough from you about how expensive Cable/Sat are.

        I’m surprised your fork over for the internet…or, do you hack into your neighbor’s wi-fi?

  3. As I have written elsewhere, Pierre Moossa hit a “home run” when he was able to sign Rebecca Lowe.

    Rebecca is literally the consensus #1 choice for the EPL host chair, both inaide NBC Sports Group and among us “uber fans” who have a little bit of knowledge and experience with the media industry. She is exactly what any competent TV producer should be looking for: young, photogenic, and knows English Football inside out from her experience.

    I’ll reserve judgment on the rest of the talent and the other aspects of the production until August.


    Please follow me on my new Twitter: @OliverTseProd

      1. FSC will be in more homes than ever when it morphs into FXX on September 2: 75 million households.

        What used to air on FSC will move to FS1 and FS2 and will be available in 90 million households.

        “All-soccer” TV channels are a failed business plan for public companies such as NewsCorp.

        Of course, if your business plan is “private banking” of your bosses’ money instead of building a real business, then running tape-delayed soccer during prime time (not to mention junk such as team handball) is something you would do.

        1. Wow.. I agree with an Oliver post… Now as long as you are not claiming you “recommended” her for the position behind the plexi glass desk.. I actually may read what you post for a change.


  4. Any idea if Dish Network is going to move NBC Sports Network into a more affordable package, like DirectTV has done?

    1. My understanding is, ‘the contract is the contract’. So Comcast would have to approach Dish about making changes.

      I most certainly would love to see NBC Sports drop down to something more attainable, even if just Top 200.

  5. What NBC are doing is very interesting. They have more access to bars/pubs/homes than what FOX has. Until recently, bars had to pay extra for FOX Soccer and if the bar was a no-soccer bar, the viewer was screwed.
    NBC is Free to air and most bars have NBCSN due to the other sports on it.
    Presenters and analysts look great with lots of experience.
    Premier League Extra Time will be interesting(only if you get NBCSN)

    Having watched the press conference from yesterday, I am looking forward to August 17th and I couldn’t agree more on the last two paragraphs on this story. (Yes, I am an Ex-pat)

  6. I’m wondering about this statement from NBC:

    “NBC SPORTS LIVE EXTRA: Every Barclays Premier League match will be streamed live via NBC Sports Live Extra, the NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktop, mobile and tablets and, in most cases, on the digital platforms of participating cable, satellite, telco and other video subscription services. The vast majority of Barclays Premier League matches will be streamed via “TV Everywhere,” available on an authenticated basis to subscribers of these services.”

    What participating satellite companies? Directv and Dish are the only two and neither have an agreement with NBC for the streaming service.

  7. If ur listening NBC Sports, please allow us non-cable people to buy online access. I happily paid Fox’s annual fee. Didn’t like delayed postings though. Those are really annoying. Don’t force me to watch the fuzzy illegal steams.

    1. I agree. Since NBC sports will already have a streaming website set up, why not allow those Luddites (like myself) without cable to purchase on-line access. I pay for access to Fox’s streaming site, and would happily pay NBC for their service as well.

  8. First of all, great job Gaffer in giving us a great insight to the NBC press conference..

    My concerns right now… Will the Telemundo and Mun2 games be exclusives? Meaning not on any English Channel at broadcast time… If so will they have SAP available?

    The ticker is another concern.. It would drive hardcore fans to watch less matches if that was the case..

    Replays? This was Fox Soccers strongest feature.. They replayed games at key times.. Especially on Saturdays

    Any BT collaboration? Ala. sky sports news .. That is certain to disappear from Fox…. Any BT productions to be shared?

    MOTD was a huge surprise.. But isn’t this trademarked with the BBC… Is there a direct sub license here?.. That would be fantastic, but I doubt it. But anything similar would be welcome

    Like you said, this was a commitment I wasn’t expecting from NBC.. Fantastic news.. The best news is that their flagship commentator is ONSITE..

    Fox and their basketball announcer look like a total joke right now…

    Football will grow.. When its done with quality, and availability to the mases…

    Great plan NBC… Hope you execute.


    1. Cantona: According to a slide in yesterday’s presentation, Telemundo will alongside NBCSN air the Sunday 11am ET game. Don’t think they said anything about Mun2 games yet.

      From my experience watching various events on NBCSN, they tend not to include the ticker when broadcasting live sport like NHL & MLS, so if they followed the precedent set during MLS coverage – it should be fine. Although they have left it during College Basketball games.

      About sharing resources from BT, Jonathan Tannenwald in an article he wrote (http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/thegoalkeeper/Quotes-from-NBCs-Premier-League-press-presentation.html) quoted Jon Miller (NBC Sports Head of Programming) as saying they plan to share resources with BT, but also work closely with Sky.
      Firstly, before I give my thoughts – if anyone gets a chance, the presentation (which can be viewed via http://nbcsportsgrouppressbox.com/video/nbc-sports-groups-premier-league-press-event-full-session-april-16-2013) is interesting to watch in terms of seeing various promos NBC has made to promote their coverage including during their ‘Championship Season’.

      Living in Australia, our EPL coverage through Fox Sports (which is what FS1 is slightly modeled around) is great in allowing all games to be watched live either through one of their channels/Red Button services or through an iOS app. Although I’m slightly jealous of what you guys in America will be getting from NBC in terms of non-match programming. EPL 36′ and MOTD/MOTD2 stand out as highlights, seeing many here have expressed a want for especially a version of MOTD for a while. Not forgetting being able to watch every 10am ET Sat kickoff on TV without paying extra and the 20 live games on NBC proper, it seems NBC Sports is going above and beyond not only expectations but what has been offered in the past. Just hope it all works out well like it sounds on paper!

  9. Great coverage Gaffer…

    The sooner people stop seeing Comcast as the devil the sooner they will just appreciate what is going on. There are 4 mega media companies in USA, yes COMCAST is on, but there is Disney, FOX and CBS… All massive, all with agenda’s

    I have had satellite… it was horrid, I hated COMCAST and posted as such here about not using them, as many many other people did… but what happened was, they got better, they finally listened to the requests, and that will continue.

    I have been impressed with the improvement of COMCAST, but its not my nly source for media consumption…

    For the BPL it will… and I’m ok with that, it will be a consistent high quality product instead of a fractured not very well executed or thought out product delivery that it is today.

    As long as someone is looking at it from the experience of the fan then I don’t care.

    I don’t care what others say in the UK about Lineker, they are in the minority and never had to put up with Rob Stone, Eric Wynalda and Warren Barton…uuuugghhh [shudder].

    COMCAST are using the Apple model and IMO that makes complete sense.

    It’s an exciting time to be a football fan in America.

    Im sure NBC has the rights to have games replayed in their entirety online or on demand on your TV with a cable subscription.

    They could wait to make them available after the MOTD review shows have aired them… either way its fine.

    I think they will have an Anywhere, Anytime, Anydevice policy moving forward.

    gaffer… not bad my Lineker suspicions huh 😉

    1. Xfinity here in San Francisco has very limited HD available channels. Directv is miles a head in that sense, will see if this will change in the future, (some how I doubt it)

      1. I definitely hate Comcast’s customer service and the monopolies cable companies in general operate under. However, xFinity in the Bay Area (I live in San Jose) has NBC Sports in HD so Im not sure what you’re getting at.

      2. Thats an SF issue, where I am in the Bay area I get great selection of HD and Sports channels now as well as great speeds for Internet, 55Mbps is what i’m at now they just gave a free 20 Mbps bump as part of a system upgrade, and Its gonna go to 300mbps in the next 12 – 18 months.

        I used to hate them, but they really have improved where I am… but I did call and let them know every time it sucked or when I was lobbying for Fox Soccer HD to be added….

        (someone actually tried arguing that there was more demand for the tennis channel than fox soccer…LOL…within a month of that conv I had FoxSoccer HD)

        It took a while but they came through… in my experience, if you say nothing and do nothing about it then nothing gets done.

        Im pretty sure if you reach out to Comcast leadership as well as local/regional directors of customer service and aired your frustrations in a reasonable manor and positioned it as… I want a good product.. if it is good.. i will pay for it no worries…this is what I want… how long before it can happen..

        no way are they going to invest all they have into this package and not want to give as many people access to it as possible… that makes no sense.

        its easy to be cynical about conglomerates, but one thing that does motivate is revenue and bad PR.

        Just get in their face…respectfully and they will respond positively.

  10. Mr. Gaffer,

    Do we know if NBC will use the same score and clock graphic for the EPL games that they use for MLS, which is essentially the same graphic they use for NHL and NFL games.

    This may seem trivial but for soccer I find NBC’s MLS graphic to be slightly oversized and obtrusive compared to the ESPN, Fox Soccer, & EPL world feed graphics which are placed in the upper left corner of the screen instead of in the upper middle.

    For the EPL games on NBC/NBCSN I would like to see a graphic that is new and unique and a little less conspicuous.

    Also, I have noticed that NBCSN occasionally broadcasts sports documentaries. In consideration of Gary Lineker being hired by NBC I hope NBCSN will consider showing “One Night in Turin”, the documentary about the 1990 England World Cup team.


    1. Too early to say right now in regards to graphics. Re: documentaries, I doubt it. Right now, Netflix is one of the companies withs streaming rights to One Night In Turin.

      The Gaffer

      1. With NBC owning Hulu how about putting archived footage from the Premier League up for stream?

        I’d love to see the EPL Review Show from 96/97 to now get that treatment. IMG/PLP has all of the weekly Review shows going back to 96/97.

        Wouldn’t it be amazing to be able to pull up video of all the highlights any given week over the last 16 seasons? The weekly Review Show has the history of the league captured in 1 hour segments. They do no good sitting in a vault somewhere…….

    1. Right now, it’s too early to say – but would be yes for now. But a lot depends on whether DirecTV will add NBC Sports Live Extra and Premier League Extra Time.

      The Gaffer

      1. From what I have read multiple times if your carrier has NBC sports network then the ‘Extra time’ package will be made available to your carrier. Directv has the NBC sports network, so the extra time should be available. Unless I am missing something?

        1. SHOULD. But it’s up to every single TV provider whether they want to make the Extra Time package available or not as 1) overflow channels, where they’ll show games on TV, and 2) NBC Sports Live Extra app, where they give access online and via apps to watch games.

          I would check with your TV provider to make sure. There’s no guarantee that they’ll offer it even though the TV provider offers NBCSN.

          Right now, for example — with NBC Sports Live Extra (the online streaming offer of every game live), it’s only on Comcast, Suddenlink, Cablevision and Verizon FIOS.

          The Gaffer

          1. NBC needs Directv in this situation. Directv is the largest satellite provider in the country. If I was with a smaller cable system I would be concerned.

            1. I think we all need to aware of the situation — whether we’re a DirecTV customer or a customer of a smaller cable company. If DirecTV doesn’t follow through with giving subscribers what they want, many of them will jump ship when they can get out of their contract and go where the best coverage is.

              DirecTV is a huge provider, but there are other options out there.

              The Gaffer

  11. Fox was always stuck in the old world of football. Draining our pockets with the old ,Odell of pay per view matches and when Setanta went belly up, keeping the model of a pay extra match. They tried to stretch out the football dollar when they leased out games to ESPN, gave us a pay for view streaming service, that was never great. Locked in the old idea that football was not a good means of selling advertising. So goodbye legacy ideas of football on tv, welcome to new media of drawing in a young audience, to exciting content.

  12. I know they mentioned that the Sat. 12:30 matchup (EST time) will be on NBC, wonder if they will do that during college football season or wait until December to start those. I do see that they are planning to only show 20 on NBC

    1. NBC has only broadcast one Notre Dame game prior to 2:30 PM ET since 2006…this will not be a concern. NBC and Notre Dame will work together on the scheduling. In my ipinion.

  13. Disagree with your comments about Le Saux. He’s always been left out over here for a reason IMO. If you’re good, you get snapped up by BSkyB, ITV or BBC Sport. He’s never managed to hold down a position. To lose your commentary job to Mark Lawrenson speaks volumes…

    1. I disagree. The fact that Mark Lawrenson still has a job on MOTD speaks volumes of the BBC’s ineptitude and lack of quality standards. The times when I’ve heard Le Saux on talkSport and Sky Sports, he’s been brilliant.

      The Gaffer

  14. NBC Sports is only available if you purchase the Comcast sports package where I live. This is the same for FSC, so no change there. I would like to see Comcast offering NBC Premier League as a single entity to be purchased as a stand alone. Then I wouldn’t have to buy hundreds of extra sports channels I have no use for.

    1. I for one need a streaming option. I don’t have the cable subscription or NBC Sports package, I simply can’t pay $200/month for something of which I only watch 5 channels. I also don’t have the time to watch things live.

      FoxSoccer2Go was a must this season. NBC give non cable subscriber a chance, we might surprise you. I don’t have time to watch games when they happen nor any tv for that matter. I am a freelancer who catches up on all things in my own time. But I do watch every EPL game every week. Yes, all of them, not all at once, but I do watch them all. I am addicted.

      1. I pay less than $90 per month and get cable TV & Internet and get NBC Sports Network and a ton of other channels through Comcast.

        The Gaffer

  15. NBC and The Gaffer please note: The commentators will not only be on-site in England.

    10% of the Premier League’s clubs next season are Welsh.

  16. Someone on another forum I read corresponded with DirecTV about the NBC announcement and asked what their plans were with respect to adding the overflow channels and going into partnership on the app. Here’s the response they got from DirecTV.

    “Thank you for writing in. I can understand your excitement for this new package announced by NBC. I’m happy to address your concern.

    At this time, DIRECTV does not have any announcement about this new package. This looks like an exciting new addition to the available sports lineup for Soccer fans and I assure you we will work with NBC to provide the best service to our mutual customers. Please check back with us closer to the start of the new season for more information about this new content.”

    1. It’s a delay tactic from DirecTV’s Customer Service department. Another reader e-mailed me the same exact response from DirecTV. They’re trying to keep customers quiet, buy time until August and then probably waffle regarding whether they’ll add it or not.

      It doesn’t cost DirecTV anything extra to add Premier League Extra Time or NBC Sports Live Extra.

      The Gaffer

      1. If it’s the case that DirecTV has insufficient bandwidth then we shouldn’t be expecting the extra channels. That should not stop them from coming to an agreement on the app. That will come down to how much NBC/Comcast wants for it.

        The negotiating record between these two giant companies doesn’t give me a lot of hope that agreement will be reached but you never know.

        1. NBC execs said that they’re not charging TV providers anything for the app. Subscriber will just need to make sure they have NBC Sports Network, and that their TV provider has reached an agreement with NBC to offer the NBC Sports Live Extra service.

          The ball is in DirecTV’s court.

          The Gaffer

          1. I would be shocked if Direct TV doesn’t carry PL ExtraTime. One of DTV’s main marketing/attractions is live sports. They picked up BEIN almost instantly, i wouldn’t be suprised if the channels that carry UEFA CL/EL over flow (480-490) are the ones used.

  17. “It doesn’t cost DirecTV anything extra to add Premier League Extra Time or NBC Sports Live Extra.”

    DirecTV may not have to pay NBC for access to the games, but there is a cost. Until a new satellite is launched next year, DirecTV has relatively limited space (no pun intended) on its existing satellites to provided additional coverage. In addition to the EPL games there is the possible multi-channel addition of the Pac-12 Networks and other new HD channels. In addition to their existing NFL Sunday Ticket, NHL Center Ice, MLB Extra Innings, etc. packages.

    So, there are decisions that DirecTV has to make. All you have to do is read other forums to see how other DirecTV customers are clamoring for DirecTV to add more movie channels or their local channels in HD.

    In other words…it is not a “no brainer.”

    Wow, I never thought I would be defending DirecTV for not just adding new channels! :)

    1. The one thing going for Dish and Directv is that these extra channels aren’t primetime spots, so they can show the extra 10 AM games without compromising their available HD slots. Once the games are over, those slots will be available for College Football, Basketball, or whatever else may be starting early that day.

      These days it is impossible to tell what provider will offer what and when. I have a harder time seeing Directv not offering this. Dish is skittish with new sports and HD, so maybe that may be a delay, but I think Dish is pretty big with the Latino, so it may be hard to see them not pressing for this.

  18. This is all really, really good news. I think that NBC made some great choices as far as commentators and pundits go. There is some great experience in there. I’m especially excited about the two Robbies in there-they provide great insight.

    I’m really glad that NBC will allow the game to do the talking, as far as selling the sport to more Americans. People learn to love the Premier League and soccer in general by watching it in its purest form (authentic commentators, etc.) rather than by listening to a sub-par, usually American commentator, guide the viewer through the game with baby steps.

  19. Chris:

    I want to extend my personal congratulations to you for the fans dream that has become a reality. Feel proud for what you have done for the fans. Without EPL Talk being the voice of the fan especially in the US what NBC has done would not have happened.

    On another note. Would NBC be able to assign their crews to 3 games a day. That being the early start, the featured 3:00pm start, and the late start. That would be a cherry on top.

    1. Thanks Lou for your kind words. It means a lot to me.

      It’s possible that the NBC Sports commentating crew may be able to do two games in one day, but it all depends on scheduling. If there’s a 7:45am ET kick-off in London, and then a 12:30pm ET game in the same city, they may be able to get both done. But one game is more likely on a Saturday, another one on a Sunday and a third on a Monday.

      The Gaffer

  20. Hi, what will happen with foxsoccer2go? Should we cancel our subscriptions as they will not have anything left there if soccer games go to foxsports1. News gaffer?

    1. Looks like FOX Soccer 2Go will morph into FOX Sports Go this August, which would be free. I would recommend continuing to subscribe to FOX Soccer 2Go through May. And then see what happens after then.

      The Gaffer

  21. Any word that NBCSports may add a game day soccer channel the way it was done during Olympics? One way to cope with overflow of 2 games at same time.

    Heaven forbid certain demographics miss out on catfish hotspots in 80 mph skiffs down near The Bayou on Saturday mornings.

    1. NBC will have Premier League Extra Time overflow channels available to all TV providers. The question is whether your TV provider will be one of the ones to agree to provide it to you and other customers.

      The Gaffer

  22. gotta tell ya. I watch every weekend match & I am so excited I can’t see straight. if only QPR weren’t trending hard toward relegation – I could finally watch them live instead of tape-delayed. here’s hoping they’ll fight their way back soon. I’ll have to settle for my #2, Manchester United (no offense, all – wondering if I’ll be pounded bu MANU fans for making them second – played on a youth league team named after QPR too many decades ago to admit).

  23. Happy for you lads south of the border. I am personally happy with Sportsnet here in Canada. Although we dont get the big name pundits, we do get NBC up here. Will NBC in Canada also show live premier league matches including the pundits and their weekly shows?

    Thanks Gaffer.

  24. It’s not whining to point out that NBC is forcing you to have a cable subscription if you want to watch the games. At least now I can get Fox Soccer 2 Go and watch some of the matches without forking out 200 bucks a month for cable and and an add-on sports package for one flipping channel.

    Reality is that people who want just the NBC EPL package aren’t going to pay for it and will simply use one of the the endless amounts of rebroadcasting services all over the net. No matter the fanboy flaming NBC is going to not only miss out on a huge chunk of revenue but they’re encouraging people to pirate their product.

    It’s dumb.

    1. “Rebroadcasting services”? That’s the first time I’ve read such a fancy term for pirated streams.

      The Gaffer

  25. So far mostly good having NBC Sports carry the EPL EXCEPT one HUGE negative!
    They have a little box in the top right corner of the screen showing the scores of the other matches. THIS IS A BIG NO-NO!!!!
    This is not American football. Soccer audiences do not want to know scores in advance. Most of us watch the excitement of highlights review show in suspense till the final whistle.

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