In the United States, more than 30 million Americans watched the debut season of the Premier League on NBC during 2013/14.
There’s no doubt that NBC far surpassed the expectations of most Americans. In fact, throughout the entire season, NBC raised the bar of soccer coverage on US television and achieved a near perfect broadcast from August to May to provide the best coverage of a soccer league ever witnessed on TV screens.
But where does NBC go from here? The network, which has two seasons remaining in its three-year deal with the Premier League, will debut its sophomore season in August, ready to take advantage of a post-World Cup bounce that the network will undoubtedly see due to the prominent number of Premier League players on all national teams competing in Brazil this summer.
NBC has an huge opportunity to ride the wave of post-World Cup euphoria. But what does NBC need to do to improve on an already wonderful first season.
Here’s our seven point plan;
1) More games on NBC. NBC has developed a formula of a clear vision of what it wants to provide to viewers, and has continually worked on improving its “product” throughout the entire season. When the 20 matches have been show on NBC, the over-the-air network, the viewing figures have been impressive. But for next season, I’d like to see several more games shown on NBC to bring the league to more mainstream sports fans in the United States. The Premier League offers a lot of appeal to viewers than traditional American sports. The challenge is to make them aware of it.
During the 2014/15 Premier League season, NBC should increase the number of games from 20 to 25 or more. But the network should be more selective in determining which games to show that will produce the greatest ratings.
2) More double headers. More than 1.2million people watched Swansea-Cardiff on NBC when it was sandwiched between Winter Olympics programming.
Just as MLS games benefitted from being featured as a double header to Premier League games, the Premier League games on weekend mornings or afternoons would see a ratings spike if they’re adjacent to other programming on the NBC free-to-air network.
3) Consider showing tape delays of big games. The record for the most watched Premier League game in US history was a Chelsea-Liverpool game that was shown on tape delay on a Sunday afternoon in November, 2011. My recommendation would be for the free-to-air NBC network to try a similar tactic with one exception. When FOX televised the game in 2011, they didn’t make a live version of it available so viewers were “forced” into watching it on tape-delay or finding alternate means. But with NBC Sports Live Extra and Premier League Extra Time, the network could show the game live, but then encourage mainstream sports fans to watch it later that day.