NBC Sports has agreed a deal with Sky Sports to simulcast the Sky Sports coverage of Transfer Deadline Day to viewers in the United States on NBCSN this Thursday.
During previous transfer deadline days, NBCSN televised a Deadline Day broadcast featuring Rebecca Lowe and the NBCSN Premier League analysts sharing their takes on the underwhelming transfer moves of the day. But this Thursday, thanks to Comcast’s $39 billion acquisition of Sky Television in 2018, NBCSN will strengthen the close working relationship between the two companies to include live coverage of Sky Sports’ Transfer Deadline Day from 2-5PM ET on NBCSN followed by a Transfer Deadline Day special by the NBCSN crew from 5PM to 8PM ET.
In addition, NBC Sports’ commentators will be offering analysis during the Sky Sports News telecast, while Sky Sports News presenters will welcome the NBCSN audience at the top of each hour and will also file a report for the NBCSN show.
To be frank, the partnership with Sky Sports is six years too late. The last Transfer Deadline Day of any real excitement and drama was in 2013 when Peter Odemwingie arrived at QPR’s Loftus Road believing he had a deal in place. Before that, there was Manchester City’s signing of Robinho on the final day of the 2008 window. Otherwise, the Transfer Deadline Days have been unremarkable and boring. For NBC Sports to broadcast six live hours of coverage on Thursday, it’s frankly too much.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s good news that NBC continues to broaden its relationship with Sky Sports as the two broadcasters look for ways to work more closely together. But the timing of the deal is unfortunate. Prior to Comcast acquiring Sky Television, Sky Sports was part of the FOX global empire run by Rupert Murdoch, which included the FOX Sports channels such as FS1 and FS2. For most Americans, our introduction to Sky Sports was through FOX Soccer Channel. But when FOX Sports killed FOX Soccer in 2013, the broadcaster also stopped simulcasting Sky Sports News, leaving soccer fans in the United States feeling left out of the breaking soccer news and drama from the United Kingdom.
While the news about the Transfer Deadline Day coverage is underwhelming because the deadline days aren’t as exciting anymore, it’ll be fascinating to see how much of a demand there is (if any) for the Sky Sports News coverage on NBCSN (and what the TV ratings will be). Plus, more welcoming news is that NBCSN is considering the possibility of broadcasting Sky Sports News more frequently.
According to a quote in the Associated Press, “I think that’s always a possibility,” according to Sam Flood, executive producer and president of production for NBC and NBCSN. “They do an amazing job and they touch a lot of the sports that people in this country care about. So we’re going to look at everything and work as one. We’ve had a number of back-and-forth trips and had conversations about how we can work together, how we can be smart about how we do things.”
We’ve already seen this season NBCSN incorporating more and more of Sky’s analysts into the US broadcasts of the Premier League. That transition has been a smooth one, but there are bigger opportunities for NBCSN and Sky Sports to work more closely together especially around the very popular Monday Night Football broadcast from Sky Sports featuring Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher. That show is currently the pinnacle of expert analysis on the English game. And while NBCSN’s analysis has been strong, the network could be on the beneficial end of a ratings lift if it can figure out a way to integrate Carragher and Neville into Monday’s coverage without devaluing the knowledge of NBCSN’s own soccer analysts.