For the first time in the history of soccer on US television, all 10 weekend Premier League matches will be shown live via US cable and network television.
When NBCUniversal purchased the rights to the English Premier League in a three-year deal worth $250 million, they probably didn’t foresee this exciting of a season with the league lead changing over 20 times. Future predicting abilities aside, they’re scheduling an all-out blitz of 10 games on 10 cable and network channels this Sunday, which the network is promoting as Championship Sunday.
Coverage will begin at 9am EST with pre-game analysis. While most viewers will be focused on the battle for the title between Manchester City (against West Ham) and Liverpool (against Newcastle), NBC’s coordinating producer Pierre Moossa didn’t rule out the possibility of doing a split-screen in the final minutes of the Manchester City-West Ham and Liverpool-Newcastle games if the title would go down to the final minutes. However, Moossa added that the networks would stay with the originally scheduled programs, so viewers would see the full 90 minutes of the games scheduled.
Following the matches, there will be a two-hour post-game show that will include interviews and live coverage of the title-winning team lifting the Barclay’s Premier League trophy as well as a 30-minute story featuring the champions.
Earlier today on a press conference call with NBC Sports, World Soccer Talk discussed this weekend’s Premier League action with presenter Rebecca Lowe, commentator Arlo White and Moossa. All three were excited about the major coverage that will take place on Sunday with Moossa saying, “We are thrilled about this weekend. It’s one of the most ambitious projects I’ve been apart of.”
When asked why NBC Sports decided to show all 10 games on 10 different networks, Moossa said:
“From day one, we said our goal is to service the soccer fans and that’s who we are held accountable to.
“The final day of the season is an exciting day, an emotional day … and there’s going to be so many things happening. It’s not fair for us to be deciding what you see. It allows you (the viewer) to have that choice.”
When NBC won the bid to lure the Premier League coverage away from FOX for a sum of approximately $250 million spread over three years, the network was ready to gamble on the popularity of soccer in the United States. They’re now backing up that large sum by showing all 10 games on 10 different networks.
NBC’s first season with the Premier League has been a dramatic one, with the network trying to give equal time to all 20 clubs. “The focus all along is to always cover all the stories and not to be focused on the top four and not to be focused on the big clubs,” said Moossa. Lowe also spoke about how NBC will be handling the post-game highlights, “I think this Sunday… that two hour post-game is all about reflection. It’s about where we are. Let’s take stock of all the story lines that have run from August until now.”
All three agreed on how unique this season has been compared to previous years. “The real lesson is to never try and predict anything,” said Lowe. White, who has been at the center of many these exciting games this year and will be commentating the Manchester City-West Ham game alongside Lee Dixon added, “These 90-minutes on Championship Sunday [are] a journey.”
The only way to see how well airing so many games at the same time will work will be to watch them ourselves. So what do you think? Is this too big of an undertaking even for a company as large as NBC Sports? Tell us what you think in the comments below.