UPDATED: FOX Soccer and ESPN have dropped out of the bidding for the US media rights to the English Premier League for seasons 2013-16, according to a report by Sports Business Daily.

According to the report, NBC Universal is the clear front runner with beIN SPORT a question mark

“We were disappointed to learn today that EPL has elected to move forward with a different media partner despite FOX’s aggressive bid,” said a FOX spokesperson.

“We are disappointed that our joint bid with FOX did not retain the English Premier League rights in the United States for the next three seasons. We thank the League, which has been a great business partner, and we wish them well.

“We’re proud of our role in growing the sport in this country and remain committed to soccer and to its fans,” said ESPN spokesman Mac Nwulu. “We will continue to work with our colleagues at FOX to provide unrivaled coverage of the Premier League for the remainder of this season.”

The bidding for the 2013-16 seasons concluded today, after a second round of bidding commenced after the initial October 18 deadline.

FOX Soccer has had the rights to the Premier League for 15 consecutive years, since August 1998. FOX Soccer-ESPN will continue to show Premier League matches on US television until the end of the 2012-13 season. Then, in August 2013, the new rights holder will begin televising the Premier League.

NBC Universal is believed to be the frontrunner in the bidding war. However, NBC Universal hasn’t returned calls to SBJ and an official announcement from the Premier League hasn’t been given.

“Sources say NBC’s bid would pay the EPL around $83M per year, an amount that would more than triple the $23M per year that Fox currently pays. Sources say Fox and ESPN have been told that their joint bid was not accepted. It is not clear if the Al Jazeera network, BeIN Sport, still is in the running. The emergence of NBC Universal as the clear front-runner in this bidding process comes as a surprise. In the weeks leading up to the bidding process, NBC sources downplayed the company’s interest.”

NBC Universal is a giant media corporation that is majority owned by Comcast. Among the networks under the NBC Universal umbrella, they include NBC, Telemundo, Hulu, USA Network and many others.

As soon as we have more information, we’ll let you know.

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