Beginning with the 2019/20 season, NBC Sports are making changes to its Premier League streaming service with the launch of a new tier as well as a combination of enhancements, new programming and a price increase to its flagship NBC Sports Gold product.
Fans of Premier League clubs will need to pay attention to the changes as they’re a massive development to what soccer fans have been accustomed to with the NBC Sports Gold service.
NBC Sports has launched a brand-new Premier League MatchDay Pass option, which is available for $39.99/season. The service will only allow subscribers to access the 140 live Premier League games that are not televised. While the concept is similar to the original NBC Sports Gold Premier League Pass that was priced at $49.99/season, it’s different in the following ways:
• No full-match replays are available (Programming offered includes live games only; 140 per season; featuring a minimum of 4 matches per club per season),
• No ability to pause or rewind games,
• No access to shoulder programming.
While NBC Sports has put restrictions on Premier League MatchDay Pass, it’s now focusing more of the bells and whistles on the enhanced tier of NBC Sports Gold that it has created that retains the Premier League Pass name.
With Premier League Pass, you now get:
• The same 140 games available via Premier League MatchDay Pass,
• Full match replays for above 140 non-televised games available on-demand approximately 4 hours after each game ends,
• Full match replays of all of the televised games (240 per season) available at 9PM ET on each matchday,
• New regularly-scheduled content from Sky Sports that previously was never available in the United States,
Notably, the price of the flagship Premier League Pass service has increased by 30% from $49.99 per season to $64.99. (Current NBC Sports Gold subscribers have been offered a discount of $59.99/season when their subscriptions auto-renew at the beginning of August).
Since launching NBC Sports Gold in 2017, this is the first time that NBC Sports Gold has ever made all 380 Premier League matches available to consumers in the United States (albeit with a huge catch, which we’ll explain in more detail below).
Both NBC Sports Gold services will stream coverage via desktop, mobile, tablets, and connected TV devices.
With Premier League Pass, NBC Sports is promising more than 1,400 hours of shoulder-programming too. See end of article for more details about daily coverage.
Is NBC Sports Gold a smart buy?
Analysis by Christopher Harris, Soccer media analyst
Since 2017 when NBC Sports rolled out their new paid streaming subscription model to monetize the streaming of Premier League games not shown on television, the move angered soccer fans in the United States.
When NBC Sports first acquired the rights to the Premier League in 2013, the US broadcaster made every single Premier League game available live and at no extra cost to customers who subscribed to NBCSN through cable or satellite. That benefit, which helped fuel the growth of the NBCSN brand, came to a sudden end in the summer of 2017.
While competitors such as ESPN have been expanding their soccer offerings on the ESPN+ streaming platform and keeping the price at an affordable $4.99/month, NBC Sports has doubled down on its paid subscription service by now making it more restrictive and increasing the price by 30% for the 2019/20 Premier League season that begins in early August.
NBC Sports is trying to serve two taskmasters that are in complete contrast to each other. As a business entrenched in the television industry and owned by Comcast, NBC Sports needs to retain as many television subscribers as possible. At the same time, it’s important for NBC Sports to stay relevant in the digital space, so offering a product that consumers can subscribe to and where NBC Sports can generate additional revenue is vital.
But what NBC Sports ends up with is a streaming product that satisfies almost no one. If you’re a cord cutter, NBC Sports Gold will not provide you access to every single live game. And if you’re a NBCSN cable or satellite subscriber, it feels like NBC Sports is “double dipping” because you have to pay extra for it.
NBC Sports Gold was bad enough when it was $49.99/season, but the decision to not make linear TV games available on-demand until 9PM ET on the day of the game is crippling. Either NBC Sports doesn’t understand the needs of their viewers or they don’t care because the 9PM ET restriction will significantly irritate the viewership experience for fans of the Premier League. For most soccer fans, by 9PM ET on any given matchday, Premier League games are old news and practically irrelevant.
With the changes to Premier League Pass, NBC Sports can now advertise that it streams all 380 Premier League games per season to soccer fans in the United States. But if you read the fine print, it doesn’t give the consumers what they want, which is a streaming product that offers live and on-demand access to all 380 games similar to what DAZN is offering consumers in Canada starting this August.
Schedule of shoulder-programming available throughout each week:
Premier League Today – daily, weekday program showcasing the top news stories from around the Premier League.
Fanzone – a daily international fans’ phone-in show, which also includes Skype callers, as well as social media contributors and emailers.
The Weekend Review – a two-hour studio show reviewing every weekend match with expert analysis, a former referee discussing the key decisions and VAR talking points, and the best post-match reactions.
The Headline Makers – a 60-minute studio show featuring journalists from around the world offering perspective on what’s happening in the Premier League.
The Watching World– a 30-minute show dedicated to Premier League coverage from around the world, which features the top content from the past week’s international broadcasts, including the best discussions, analysis, interviews, debates, and more.
Netbusters – a half-hour program which showcases all the goals, misses, saves, bloopers and quotes from each round of matches using alternative camera angles.
Premier League World – the weekly magazine show provides club updates, with manager and player interviews, and showcases features from around the world.
The Big Interview – Exclusive sit-down interviews with the biggest names in the Premier League.
1-11 – a Premier League legend or current player reveals the best 11 they’ve played with and against.
The Analysis Show – a 60-minute show providing the first look ahead to the weekend fixtures with detailed analysis.
Inside the Premier League – a 30-minute show offering unique insight into the Premier League through sports science, tactical trends and top performances.
Match Pack – on Thursdays, a half-hour magazine show previewing the weekend’s matches using in-depth statistical data and graphic animation.
Fantasy Premier League – on Thursdays, this show offers fantasy managers the latest inside information, tips and predictions based on the Premier League’s global online fantasy game.
The Kelly & Wrighty Show – a 90-minute preview of all the weekend’s action with Sky Sports’ Kelly Cates and Arsenal legend Ian Wright.
Weekend Warm-Up – With a mix of new features and strands, this weekly studio show features the best preview material directly from the Premier League clubs.
Premier League Preview – a comprehensive, fast-paced look ahead to the weekend building up to the major matches, which also includes key comments from the day’s press conferences.
Soccer Saturday (Sky) – Sky Sports News highlighting the day’s Premier League action.
Goals on Sunday (Sky) – A panel of commentators dissect Saturday’s Premier League action and look ahead to Sunday’s games.
Additional weekly programming:
Men In Blazers – 30-minute show featuring popular soccer personalities Michael Davies and Roger Bennett, who have received critical acclaim for their wit and rapport discussing international soccer for an American audience.
Match of the Day – An in-depth look at each day’s matches, featuring long form highlights and match commentary.
Season Preview (2019-20) – A look ahead to the upcoming season with a focus on the major storylines, players and favorites in the Premier League.
Premier League Download – NBC Sports Group’s exclusive series, Premier League Download has both entertained and educated audiences by taking in-depth looks at some of the league’s biggest topics and themes. Prior seasons’ shows featured managers Pep Guardiola, Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger, and Jose Mourinho.
Additional archival programming:
Gary Neville’s Soccerbox – Premier League legend Gary Neville sits down with former teammates and rivals to relive their most compelling matches
Premier League Legends – a docuseries profiling the greatest and most influential players in the history of the Premier League
Premier League World: Alex Ferguson Special – An hour-long feature encapsulating the legendary career of the iconic Manchester United manager.
The Noisy Neighbours – A look back at the final day of the 2011-12 Premier League season, as Manchester City won the Premier League title in epic fashion over crosstown rivals Manchester United.
Never Lose Faith: The Sunderland AFC Story – An insightful documentary exploring the trials and tribulations of Sunderland fans over the history of the club.
Tottenham Hotspur: To Dare is to Do – Roger Bennett’s in-depth look at the history of Tottenham Hotspur and the impact of the club’s new stadium
2018-19 Season Review – A look back at all the action and storylines that made the 2018-18 Premier League campaign one to remember.
According to NBC Sports, their exclusive Premier League content begins Wednesday, August 7, 2019 with their season preview programming. NBC Sports Gold’s new Premier League MatchDay Pass debuts on Saturday, August 10.
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