NBC confirms acquisition of Premier League rights

UPDATED: NBC Universal has acquired the exclusive US media rights to the Premier League from 2013-2014 to 2015-2016 for a fee that is believed to be $83 million per season. Per the agreement, NBCUniversal becomes the exclusive English- and Spanish-language media rights holder to all 380 Premier League matches across all platforms and devices in the United States.

As part of the plans that NBC has for bringing the Premier League to viewers in the US, the free-to-air NBC network plans on broadcasting 18-20 live EPL matches a season primarily on Saturdays.

“The Barclays Premier League is the preeminent soccer league in the world, and is on the cusp of exponential popularity growth here in the U.S.,” said Mark Lazarus, Chairman, NBC Sports Group. “NBCU will provide the broadest programming and promotional commitment that the league has ever experienced here in the United States. The Premier League provides NBCU with best-in-class content for 10 months of the year across our far-reaching broadcast, cable and digital platforms. This is a perfect match.”

“The NBC Sports Group has an excellent track record in sports broadcasting and will showcase the Barclays Premier League to fans across the USA through its extensive network of channels and high quality production,” said Premier League Chief Executive, Richard Scudamore. “We are extremely pleased that NBC has chosen to invest in the Premier League and look forward to working with them for many years to come.”

Each of the 20 Premier League teams plays 38 matches over a 41-week period from August to May. Although specific programming details will be announced at a later date, NBC, NBC Sports Network, and NBCSports.com will all be utilized to present live Premier League coverage, as well as Telemundo and mun2 for Spanish-language coverage. Additional NBCUniversal platforms and networks will occasionally be scheduled to air Premier League matches, while NBC Sports Live Extra will provide the live streaming platform across web, tablet and mobile devices.

The NBC Sports Group will also produce comprehensive shoulder programming around its live-event coverage of the Premier League, including pre- and post-match shows, as well as highlight and weekly wrap-up programs. It is also developing a package to make sure the most avid fans have access to every Premier League match.

According to SI.com, “NBC Chairman Mark Lazarus said NBC Sports Network will be the primary carrier of EPL games and that EPL fans will have access to every game on the schedule through an NBC platform. ‘It will not be unlike the Olympics where you saw programming on CNBC, Bravo, USA or MSNBC,’ Lazarus said. ‘We are working to make it a consistent schedule so fans know exactly where to find games. But the Premier League fan will be able to get to every game live.'”

Lazarus added that the Premier League games that are played mid-week will be made available digitally or with MVPDs (multichannel video programming distributors) on some sort of pay television package.

The SI.com article also reported that NBC has “already had early talks with BT (formally British Telecom), which acquired a set of the UK rights to the EPL, and the two could partner on production. As far as broadcasting talent, a subject of fanatical concern for soccer fans, Lazarus said he thinks NBC has some talent on its roster that will translate well but he will be in acquisition mode. The network has an exceptional soccer play by play announcer in Arlo White and it’s a near-guarantee he will play a significant role on EPL broadcasts.”

“We think Arlo fits very nicely, and we are working to see who fits this content,” Lazarus said. “I don’t think you can take someone calling an MLS game on a regional sports network, put them on an English Premier League game and have the same tone that the fan is accustomed to. We believe in the indigenous voice. And the fact we have Arlo doing our games speaks to that. We think that there is a tone and tact that the international soccer fan expects and we will not disappoint.”

NBC beat FOX-ESPN, beIN SPORT, IMG and Discovery Networks to win the rights.

What are your thoughts regarding the developments?

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