Dear NBC: Take My Money For NBC Sports Live Extra, Please

Like many other Americans who follow the Premier League closely, I’ve been reading the news about NBC’s plans for their coverage next season with great interest. For the most part, it sounds like a great improvement over what FOX Soccer has been bringing us. But there’s one aspect from their recent press releases I want to call attention to, and that’s their online coverage options:

“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.

NBC Sports Live Extra provides a primary and second screen experience across mobile, tablet and desktop, delivering high quality video, match/player stats and video highlights while aggregating Premier League content from social media.”

In layman’s terms, all games will be available online and on mobile devices in high quality for free IF you are already subscribed to the channel through a TV provider (and if your TV provider has an agreement in place to provide NBC Sports Live Extra to you as a consumer). From their press releases, NBC Sports have yet to commit to any online option for those who are not cable or satellite subscribers.

Here is where the problem exists for me. I don’t have a cable or satellite package. The cost is not worth the product for me. I have had Comcast and DirecTV in the past, but cut the cord a few months ago. When you include taxes and fees, and sports packages, and the cost of renting HD boxes and DVR, my monthly bill was starting to approach $100/month. It’s simply not worth the cost that I was spending — living by myself, especially for someone who doesn’t do much with his TV subscription except for watching live sports. I’ve since switched to FOX Soccer 2Go for my soccer watching until the end of this season. And while not perfect, it still does the job with multiple platforms and most matches live (though not enough of the marquee Premier League ones).

For next season, NBC is going to be missing out on a substantial amount of revenue if they don’t offer an a la carte Internet streaming option for people like me. The NBC Sports Live Extra internet plan sounds great, and I’d be willing to spend $15-$20 a month on it, but I’m not going to spend the $60 or so (minimum) a month it would cost me to just have access to it. FOX Soccer 2Go reportedly has 60,000 subscribers, and if you multiply that by the $170 yearly fee, that’s over $10 million in revenue per year that FOX Soccer generates just off its online streaming option.

So why isn’t NBC saying they’re going to offer the Internet-only plan? Does it have anything to do with the fact that Comcast owns NBC and wouldn’t like to make it easier for those to do what I did, cutting the cord by not subscribing to a cable plan? Probably. But let’s look at this a little deeper. A cable TV channel has two major revenue streams. The first is selling advertising (mainly commercials). The second is subscriber fees paid to the channel by the television providers which carry it. That second number is negotiated between the provider and channel based on viewership and other factors like leverage.

It’s especially interesting to see specifically the amount that a TV provider pays each channel per subscriber. You can certainly see how ESPN has been able to dominate the sports market, that’s for sure. If this site’s information is correct, then the NBC Sports Network gets 31 cents per month from TV providers for every customer who has the channel in their package. Coincidentally, that’s nearly double what FOX Soccer gets ($.16). That breaks out to $298M (million) per year in total subscriber revenue for NBC Sports Network, and $79M/year for FOX Soccer. When you add in my estimate  of $10M/year from FOX Soccer 2Go, you can see that FOX has been making a good portion of its revenue from the streaming option.

I know NBC/Comcast will argue that they will be cannibalizing their cable business by offering an a la carte option, but I think that thinking is seriously misguided. Cord-cutting is a growing phenomenon. Approximately 3.74 million US TV subscribers cut their TV subscriptions from 2008-12, or 3.7% of the total subscription audience. We’ve decided that we can get enough of the shows we want through streaming, and still have good options for streaming sports we want (I pay for MLB.TV), combined with what we get over the air for free. Unless an a la carte cable option is on the horizon, we’re simply not coming back. For soccer junkies like me who are also cord-cutters, we’re just not going to pay for 100+ channels we don’t watch just to get access to the soccer we do watch. And one more thing, NBC should be considering that not only is cord-cutting on the rise, it skews much higher the younger you are. Coincidentally, so does the ratio of soccer fans in the USA.

So NBC, here is my plea: You’re already rolling out what sounds like a high quality, comprehensive Internet coverage plan for the Premier League next season. High quality streaming sure beats dodgy Internet streams with pop up ads and poor quality that buffer and cut in and out. Let us pay for it.

58 thoughts on “Dear NBC: Take My Money For NBC Sports Live Extra, Please”

  1. Totally agreed. I dont have cable, nor do i want it. So it looks like im screwed on watching EPL next year.

    Hopefully beinsport releases an online package for La Liga/Serie A nxt season.

    1. beIN SPORT was supposed to release an online package by the end of 2012. We’re still waiting.

      NBC Sports has the US media rights to the Premier League until the end of the 2015-16 season — three years from now.

      The Gaffer

        1. Correct. Authenticated login is needed except on rare occasions where beIN SPORT has a free live streaming weekend.

          The Gaffer

    1. Right, and they’re illegal, filled with ads and viruses, have poor quality video and are putting money in the pockets of people who don’t pay for the rights.

      The Gaffer

      1. When the clubs and the media conglomerates force prices higher and higher what do yo expect? I should feel bad that some rebroadcasters are making click money instead of NBC and Comcast making hundreds of millions?

        They could make this content available at a reasonable cost but, so far, they aren’t. I can assure you that most of the soccer loving public around the globe loves their sport a lot more than they love unrestricted capitalism.

  2. I understand your plight, but the bottom line is decisions are being made by Comcast, not NBC. As such, the cable “model” is going to prevail for now.

    As for the $10 million generated by 60,000 FOX Soccer2Go subscribers, you have to take into account that a good portion of those are probably like the Gaffer. They already have cable as well. They do not represent potential lost income to Comcast.

    Finally, you must live in a cable hell hole. The TV part of my TimeWarner bill is just $60 including all fees and taxes. You have made me actually appreciate TWC. No easy task. 😉

  3. Do we know yet if the NBC Live app is archiving games or is it live only? Also as of today it is not compatible with Airplay for AppleTv. Any word or plans for that?

      1. Thanks Gaffer! Don’t know how I missed that! Both Foxsoccer2go and MLS Live don’t have native Apple TV apps but are Airplay compatible. Hopefully NBC will do one or the other.

  4. I am going to assume that more TV providers such as Uverse, Dish,, DirecTV, etc will latch on to the Live Extra streaming package, but it would be imperative that they provide this a la carte if that doesn’t happen. Currently, I do not get any of the providers that are on board with Live Extra in my area. I am probably in the minority, but I would pay extra, as I do now for FoxSoccer2Go, for the a la carte Live Extra.

    1. Oh a la carte, the dream of the sat/cable subscriber! And why not, $5 a month to get access to all the other games? Sure.

  5. Never had cable and it looks like as the prices go up I never will!

    I’ve attempted to watch through the dodgy online streams before but as The Gaffer says they’re frustratingly slow and crammed full of ads. What I have been doing as an alternative is tuning in and listening to the free international service through the site – Not the same as watching but honestly not a bad substitute if it’s a game I don’t want to miss!

  6. As both a cable cord-cutter and a soccer junkie I agree with this completely. Foxsocer2Go has been invaluable and I hope NBC comes up with a streaming option before next season.

    Anyone want to start a petition?

  7. What I find interesting is that for the last couple of years, the vast majority of people complained about FOX Soccer 2Go. Now there’s a lot of people coming out and being more vocal about it just as it’s close to being shut down.

    I liked FOX Soccer 2Go a lot, but I’m looking forward to NBC Sports Live Extra more — having the ease of use to watch ANY of the games whenever and wherever I want.

    The Gaffer

    1. Foxsoccer2go’s biggest issue for me was the asinine blackout of certain games until midnight. Most Spurs games are victim of this and trying to stay spoiler free for 12+ hours is nearly impossible. I won’t miss that one bit.

    2. The iPhone app needed work and the online player was a little buggy at times but overall I was really happy with the service. The blackout until midnight was the only major annoying issue. But considering I could pay $20/month for foxsoccer2go or pay >$100/month for cable it was a god send.

  8. This goes straight to the heart of the problem that is cable/sat these days, the uncertainty. Many are left having not a clue what their options will be. For a person in my position, I have access to Dish, Directv, Time Warner, and Uverse. None of them, as of right now, are noted as carrying either additional services. Makes switching hard to do.

    Certainly, can contact my provider and beg, which will happen, but that doesn’t lead to any added certainty. Comcast is forcing this on other providers and not allowing the consumer to have a choice in how to pick up the content.

    What has been announced is exciting, but it’ll be worthless if you can’t get access to it.

    1. I agree 100%. The only thing that has kept me with Directv this long is the quick response times they have for new sports channels, like the UEFA mix channels that come free.

      I desperately want to cut the cord, but there’s a significant difference between watching a match through a stream on my laptop and having a sure feed on the television, or as sure as it can get 😉

  9. finally someone telling a story about the real issue. In my opinion, as a cord cutter and internet only household, the figures that the author uses are conservative. Look at the ad revenue that Google and Facebook bring in. Look at how Netflix through a streaming platform has out subscribed HBO. Hulu, Amazon Prime, AppleTV. I go on and on. People are cutting the cord because the internet only platform gives them the ability to watch only what they watch and pay for only what they want to watch.

    Bottom line: COMCAST and ALL of the major media companies SHOULD WANT to cut the cord with us. They just do not get it.

    And in my market, because the NBC Sports Network would be on a premium package, after DVR costs and the like, the bill is upwards of $100.

    And the gaffer is right, the free streams are crap and ad ridden and illegal. That should be MORE REASON to help people cut the cord if you are Comcast. I mean, can you not observe the millions that go to illegal streams all because Comcast and their brethren do a crap job at providing soccer coverage across the globe. Bottom line: if people want a game they will get it. If people want anything they will get it, the internet makes that possible.

    Why doesn’t Comcast get it? Last I checked, Google and Facebook make more money than them and Comcast I think has been around longer:) Seems to me the internet advertising model does ok.

    1. You only see ads on footy streams if you don’t have the common sense to download an ad blocker and get a simple virus software.

      1. I’m against ad blockers, for obvious reasons. And getting a virus software program isn’t going to guarantee that a user won’t get a virus.

        The Gaffer

  10. I agree with the article except for one fact. FoxSoccer2Go was not really an option for the cord cutter. Top four games were almost always on a 12 hour delay which makes the service worthless for me.

    As much as a pain as it can be to wake up early to watch the games, it really works out. Having to wait until 7pm on a Saturday night to watch a game is annoying and near impossible to do without finding out about the result. Not to mention that family is usually a bit annoyed to have a non-live sporting event on the tv on a Saturday night.

    I will happily pay NBC for the online option if all games are available live.

    1. Fox Soccer2Go was horrible. Blacking out games was a slap in the face. You’re either all in or all out. Not half and half.

  11. I don’t think much else can be said about this. It’s done, it’s done. Comcast has made their decision. We can’t keep moaning about it.

    It’s inevitable. Online streaming is the future and if Comcast/NBC wants to ignore it and the potential for massive revenue, that’s their decision.

  12. Good discussion.

    I wouldn’t automatically assume the Dish/Diretv will add ANY options that cost them money.

    I have been unable to watch and Lakers or Galaxy games this year because Dish refused to pay more to pick up TWC Sportsnet.

    ESPN3 is also only available to subscribers of select providers and while the list is certainly longer than the NBC offering, its equally as frustrating if your provider does not provide access.

    ESPN were ground breakers in terms of applying the Cable TV model to internet media (providers have to pay extra to ESPN per subscriber to offer ESPN3) – but its been with mixed success.

    Not having access to streaming games will be a real problem for me – I tried using the NBC service during the olympics but found it unintuitive and confusing.

    I will reserve judgement on the FOX/NBC switch over until all the fact are in.

    1. Good feedback Nick. Just for a point of clarification, NBC Sports isn’t charging the TV providers anything extra to show Premier League Extra Time. All the TV provider needs is bandwidth to show extra games.

      The Gaffer

      1. I called Cox and they told me that Premier League Extra Time is not free to them (they are being charged a “retransmission fee”) and that’s why they are not offering it. Seems in direct conflict with what NBC is saying, I have no clue who to contact to resolve this.

  13. I am really nervous that DirecTv won’t offer the streaming portion of the NBC package. ESPN3 is a great example of what I suspect will happen with DirecTv

  14. Comcast Cares… about their business model. They don’t care about a pithy $10M outlier. If I were running Comcast the only way I offer a-la-carte is at some prohibitive price like $45 to force you to just buy cable. Face it… we’re screwed.

    Unless someone can create a great Android app that can scrape the streaming sites and pull out the streams without all the popups. It has to be possible.

  15. You took the words out of my mouth in this article. Me and my roommate do not watch TV enough to want to get any kind of satellite or cable so unlike most people knowing Fox was losing EPL was a big concern to me.I did not know if NBC was going to offer an online stream, or If I was going to be SOL.

  16. I have been struggling with the same thing, but I have mainly been focused on Formula 1 race broadcasts which has the same challenge. I am currently a direcTV subscriber and I want to devise a solution that eliminates my TV subscription service.

  17. Like most I was a bit surprised that FoxSoccer lost the rights to BPL, and despite their – at time mediocre commentating and lack of diversity in live games, I am also a little saddened.
    That turned into horror when I learned that the rights had been bought by NBC. We all know how they mutilated the Olympic Games last year, and if that is the standard we can expect:
    – Despite trying to sell us on additional subscriptions to watch any game we like live, most games will not be sent live, but rather on delayed broadcast anywhere from an hour to days past the actual event.
    – Those games that are sent live will be plastered with commercial breaks every 5 minutes.
    – Commentating might have lacked at Fox Soccer but at least they know a little of the game, unlike NBC who at almost every game at the Olympics felt the urge to mention that there would be no Golden Goal in case of a tie, although that rule haven’t existed in years.
    This may be jumping the gun, but please post any (legal) alternatives for watching BPL in the States.

  18. What I don’t see anyone commenting on is what happens if you have cable from a provider who doesn’t have the agreement with NBC-SLE. Currently, I pay for cable I barely watch but can get a few key EPL games in HD and Fox2Go, too. Now I will have no real internet optionn at all, because Charter doesn’t have an NBC-SLE agreement, nor the extra channels, etc. And, unlike so many of you, I like to watch matches later (ie, not live), and I have no option for that any more. I’ve been contemplating subscribing to DISH network without even setting it up, just so I can get access to the internet stream. What’s the cheapest you think I could do that for?

      1. No, in St. Louis, we have Charter and ATT U-verse and that’s it, as far as I know. I didn’t even know you could have more than one cable company in one region. Aren’t they all monopolies unless they’re other technologies (satellite, phone)?

        1. Sometimes, but not always. I would recommend checking out what options are available to you including Verizon FIOS if it’s in your area.

          The Gaffer

    1. It’s looking like, with DISH, that you’re going to be able to get all the games on TV. At most you’ll have to get the additional NBC Sports package for $9 a month (speaking as a subscriber from Central PA, who has America’s Top 250 package). Unfortunately they don’t currently have an agreement with DISH for the “Sport Live Extra” which would allow us to stream every match. Very disappointing. The convenience factor would be amazing.

  19. What’s even worse is that I DO have satellite access and STILL can’t get this great option because Dish Network and NBC don’t have an agreement in place to provide Dish subscribers with Sports Live Extra. I’ve sent them correspondence, urging them to carry it, but you know how those things go….

  20. I agree with your letter to NBC. I cut the cord as well. I was paying 200 dollars for cable and internet. A la carte would be a great option. I only watch hockey and baseball. Any other of my needs are found online for free. But I’m willing to spend a good amount of money on a quality sports APP. MLB.TV/ NHL gamecenter to be specific. The networks and cable computers are all ran by old farts who are scared of change. Give it 20 years when all the greedy bastard are dead.

  21. I have never had cable ( no tv im house on principle) and until the Foxsoccer2go app came along I was in the wilderness here in NY. It was a gift from heaven! I kept myself off Facebook and any sports site and stayed up till 12am on days that Everton were not live! BUT I was ecstatic that after 20 years in the states I was finally able to watch full clear games on the iphone or PC without knowing the score. Of course my mates knew they were dead if the texted me anything on those days. If u met one on the street I would scream at them to shut it before they had a chance to open their mouths. It worked! I am now in mourning and am sure that contrary to one of the above posts, a great percentage of the 60,000 do not have the cable subscriptions. I have at least 30 friends who signed up. Sad times.

  22. I’m another who had FoxSoccer2Go and was reasonably pleased with the product–not enough big games, as the author said.
    Hey, NBC, you want to offer me every game? I’d give you $200 for the whole season right now. Don’t be idiots, Wake up and do the smart thing and give the footy fans what they need!

  23. Like other commenters I would pay $150-200 for the season if given the option.

    Until then I’ll have to live with the presumable increase in illegal stream availability due to smart piraters repackaging the now more widely available legal streams 😉

  24. NBC offered their coverage of the Tour de France for $30. That was just a month ago.

    One would think that if there was a market for le Tour in the US, there certainly would be one for the Premier League – especially since numbers would be available from coverage of last season on FOX.

    Hey NBC – take my money too!

  25. We have not had cable in 20 years and do not plan on getting it now. Fox Soccer2go, despite the technical problems and delays, was worth the $20/month subscription. Now my poor husband (originally from England, so lack of EPL is painful) will settle for one game a week off the regular TV unless NBC offers Internet access. Maybe AT&T (we have Uverse Internet but not TV) will provide access, which is what they did with ESPN3. That certainly would be nice. Here is hoping that either Comcast or AT&T will do something for all us anti-cable folks. I, too, say PLEASE take my money for a reasonably priced Internet subscription! Our family is NEVER going to buy cable no matter what, and I’m sure we are not alone.

  26. EPL season started and no Internet dedicated channel. Having NBC being owned by Comcast is not working very well, is it. I am one of those that cut the cable ( well, satellite ) several years back. And won’t get it just because EPL. Why get 139 channel to get that 140th that I would watch. Nonsense. Meanwhile, I emailed customer support at NBC about all this and got crickets in return. Nothing. Mums the word. Back to Sopcast, I guess.

  27. Ok wait…I am reading all of these complaints about NBC and how they presented their package. But wait, did we all not know for MONTHS on end prior to the beginning of the seasons what was going to happen? Yes. Also, are any of you complaining about NBC’s streaming app in comparison to Fox some of the same people who complained about Fox Soccer2Go’s product and the high price of it all? While I understand some people’s frustration with finding an alternative, must remember, nothing is for free. No one is always going to get the right package that they always want because the big companies know what kind of genie they let out of the bottle if they do it. And I mean come on…it’s COMCAST. They are going to try and keep everyone attached to cable as much as they can possible so…yeah we can wait patiently or make do with what we got but in some cases, no matter what, not everyone will be satisfied.

  28. Just cancelled my AT&T U-Verse TV service. I’d love to pay monthly for NBCSN Live Extra, but they don’t want to hear about it. I’ve been looking for a way to send them a comment, but cannot find any contact info.

    I guess I’ll just have to miss 2015 Formula1 and IndyCar racing, and the advertisers will have to do without my eyes this season.

  29. +1 on paying NBC directly. My only alternative is to pay Verizon FIOS $480 a year for a tv package, and I dont have or want a tv.

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