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.