When NBC’s coverage of the 2013/14 Premier League season kicked off on the weekend of August 17, NBC Sports Group executive Rick Cordella was blown away by the sheer number of hours that soccer fans consumed. “It’s like March Madness every Saturday,” said Cordella. Soccer fans in the United States streamed more than 5.7 million minutes of Premier League action via desktops, laptops, smartphones and tablets.
Cordella, who is the Senior Vice President and General Manager, Digital for NBC Sports Group, took time out of his busy day today to speak with World Soccer Talk, to answer several questions many of us have about NBC Sports Live Extra.
As of press time, the list of TV providers who are offering NBC Sports Live Extra are AT&T U-verse, Cablevision’s Optimum, Charter, Comcast’s Xfinity TV, Cox, DirecTV, DISH, Suddenlink and Verizon FiOS.
Here are the topics we touched on:
The ability to watch all 10 Premier League matches on demand via the app:
Cordella reassured me that NBC Sports is working diligently and quickly as they can to add the ability to make games available on demand. It’s more complicated than they first thought, but it’s a big priority for them, and they’re working on it.
Is a mosaic feature on the horizon for NBC Sports Live Extra, so fans can watch more than one game at a time via the app?
“We’d like to get there,” said Cordella.
The hot button issue about having the latest scores feature removed from the top right corner so all on-demand games are spoiler-free.
Cordella explained to me that they’re looking into it, but he’s not sure whether there’s a way to remove it since the feeds they’re using are the same as TV.
For the opening weekend, the one game that was available on demand was Swansea-Manchester United, but the game wasn’t made available online until late Saturday evening. What’s the likelihood that games will be available sooner on demand, in the future?
“They’ll be much faster. Almost instantaneous as soon as the game ends,” said Cordella.
NBC Sports Live Extra app for phones and tablets running Android:
An updated version of the app was released today for Android devices, just in time for gameweek 2 of the Premier League.
What about the NBC Sports Live Extra app for Apple iOS devices?
An updated version of NBC Sports Live Extra for iOS devices will be released in the next few weeks, which will provide an even better experience. The new iOS update will ensure that when the live streaming immediately begins that there is no blurry effect for the first couple of seconds of the broadcast (where the app currently checks your connectivity and adjusts the stream based on your bandwidth)
Whether the amount of people watching Premier League games via NBC Sports Live Extra exceeded his expectations:
Cordella mentioned that the amount of minutes watched online exceeded his expectations tenfold.
Will additional Premier League programming, other than games, be made available on NBC Sports Live Extra?
Cordella answered that the plan is to go ahead and offer as much of the Premier League programming as possible including NBC’s Match Of The Day, the Premier League Preview Show, Premier League Review Show and other shows.
How did the 5.7 million minutes consumed on opening Premier League weekend compare to other sporting events that NBC Sports has aired online before?
For a recent Stanley Cup Final, the NHL game generated 9.2 million hours viewed via the app, and that was just one game. The 2012 Super Bowl had 2 million minutes consumed.
Is there any chance of Time Warner Cable adding NBC Sports Live Extra this season?
Regarding Time Warner Cable, Cordella explained that the ball is in Time Warner’s court to make a decision, and that an offer from NBC “is in their laps.” Cordella is hopeful that Time Warner will agree.
Are there any plans to add the NBC Sports Live Extra app to Xbox, PlayStation or Roku in the future?
“We’re looking at it,” says Cordella.
The Premier League impact on NBC’s soccer website, Pro Soccer Talk:
August 17, the opening day of the 2013/14 Premier League season, was the highest trafficked day in the history of the site thus far.
Cordella and I concluded our discussion by talking about how soccer fans watch the Premier League far differently than the average American watches traditional American sports. Soccer fans who watch the Premier League rely on watching games on demand and online far greater than fans do for other sports. That makes NBC Sports Live Extra an even more necessary and powerful app to allow US soccer fans to be able to watch as much Premier League soccer as they can.