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NBC’s EPL coverage faces fierce competition from ESPN+

In the NEW episode, number 231, Christopher Harris and co-host Kartik Krishnaiyer cover a range of topics including:

• NBC’s EPL coverage faces fierce competition from ESPN+
• CBS announces more details about their Serie A coverage
• Our thoughts on ESPN’s first week of LaLiga coverage
• Which league got off to a big start with TV ratings
• How our soccer-viewing habits are changing
• Our thoughts on whether ESPN will try to renew MLS rights or not

Listen to the show via the player above or via this link.

Launched in 2006, the World Soccer Talk Podcast is the longest running podcast on the planet. Every week, we share the latest news about watching soccer on television and streaming, in addition to discussing what we like and dislike, and featuring your questions and feedback in our Listener Mailbag segment.

HEAR MORE: Listen to our archive featuring hundreds of soccer interviews

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  1. José Cerrato

    August 24, 2021 at 11:49 pm

    Pues no ha sido muy alta la teleaudiencia de LaLiga y la Bundesliga por ABC.

  2. Karl

    August 24, 2021 at 12:38 pm

    @Ra, the Star+ service/brand is basically what Disney is calling Hulu outside the US as Star is a more recognizable cross-language brand/name (and a brand that Disney already owned in India/SE Asia). As for the Latin American offerings, you’re spot on. The Disney-Fox acquisition gave Disney the former South American Fox Sports networks a huge addition to ESPN’s already strong Brazilian presence (and avoided anti-trust rules in Brazil, and it appears ESPN-Fox Sports is on their way to doing so in Mexico as well). Outside of the US, cable subscriber revenue is typically much weaker than what you can get in the US, so think you’ll see OTT only grow as a straight replacement for cable in places like South America rather than the complementary product it is here.

  3. Mercator

    August 24, 2021 at 11:36 am

    ExpressVPN works on the Apple TV. It’s just a DNS service but it works on every major provider I’ve tried in Canada, UK, Australia. It’s a smart DNS service so the nice thing is it only fools the foreign apps and the US ones still work fine without changing anything. Very easy to use you just change the DNS in Apple TV settings (and change back to automatic to turn off). Im not sure if it works with DAZN Canada though. You will also need an Apple account with location set to Canada, UK or Aus if you want to download those apps from the App Store. All the US leagues offer great international packages so you can get MLBTV or NBA league pass for cheap

    Roku is the one to avoid, no IPTV support at all. You can watch all ESPN+ with no blackouts on Hulu now, but before that I just kept the smart TV on VPN and would flip to that from the Apple TV if I was blacked out.

  4. locofooty

    August 24, 2021 at 9:10 am

    That’s where Android TV comes in handy since the VPN apps are easily available. Apple TV gives you the marvelous multicast on ESPN+, but they’re a no no on VPN.

  5. JP

    August 23, 2021 at 10:05 pm

    @Ra, THAT is impressive! All the top Euro leagues and cup competitions, UCL, NHL, NFL, MotoGP… a whole bunch more including NCAA, wow!

  6. Ra

    August 23, 2021 at 9:53 pm

    @JP. Yes. They do include the Bundesliga. That is what amazed me. Take a look in Wikipedia under DAZN. They have the full list.

  7. JP

    August 23, 2021 at 9:50 pm

    *mostly still free

  8. JP

    August 23, 2021 at 9:49 pm

    @Ra, does that DAZN package in Germany include their domestic sports like Bundesliga, or is it like our ESPN+/Paramount+/Peacock on that it’s foreign (to them) leagues and sports?
    When you think about it, amazing how much we get for less about $110 a year or less than $200 if including Peacock. So thankful I’ve slowly stopped caring about most American sports/leagues. NFL (mostly stop free) and NHL, that’s it.

  9. JP

    August 23, 2021 at 9:33 pm

    @Ra, from what I’ve read it’s based on both, location or IP, depending on device. Phone would be location so airplay would likely not be an option. Apple TV would need the DNS change. Simplest for a non techie like me is just using the computer to watch when these work arounds are necessary lol. If only the RSN would offer a stand alone streaming option!!!

  10. Ra

    August 23, 2021 at 9:32 pm

    BTW I also checked Germany’s DAZN and was amazed by the amount of sports offered for 15 euro/mo. It is amazing that some here would think they should be paying much more for much less. Or that EPL alone should cost >$10.

  11. Ra

    August 23, 2021 at 9:29 pm

    @JP I haven’t tried this. I have always used it for content abroad that is not available here. It may be driven by location services, ip location, or both

  12. JP

    August 23, 2021 at 9:16 pm

    @Ra, thanks!
    Yes I’ve been doing some research it seemed like a hassle to get it to work on Apple TV. Why I plan to just watch what I need (local NHL) via ESPN+ on a laptop for simplicity.
    Just wondering if I’m watching something else from ESPN+ on the Apple TV simultaneously if that will cause major red flags (likely an out of market game that I don’t need to worry about vpn).
    Do you recommend Nord or Express?

  13. Ra

    August 23, 2021 at 9:09 pm

    @JP PS: some also use geolocation services and that is more tricky. I read somewhere that you can override android’s location service with specific coordinates but never really tried it myself.

  14. Ra

    August 23, 2021 at 9:05 pm

    @JP Go for it. You get assigned a different IP with VPN. AppleTV does not do VPN: You need to set up a DNS service or use a router that supports it (check faq on expressvpn). A couple of years ago, SmartDNS would allow you to unblock just specific services, but I don’t know if still works.
    I suggest you do it on a monthly basis rather than paying annual subscriptions as the landscape keeps changing.

  15. JP

    August 23, 2021 at 8:27 pm

    @Ra, you seem to be the resident vpn expert, simple question for you. Could I be logged into one device using the vpn to watch something (say laptop) and be on another without (say Apple TV) and have both showing content from the same site (one game that would be blackout normally and another with no restrictions).
    Would this raise any red flags and better only to use one when wanting to watch via vpn??

  16. Ra

    August 23, 2021 at 7:28 pm

    @Hans I had success with EU’s 50 fps issue by using VLC player and using my galaxy tab to cast to Google TV.

  17. Ra

    August 23, 2021 at 4:28 pm

    @locofooty @Edwin I wouldn’t say I like to base discussions on anecdotes, but it seems that ESPN did indeed overpay for LaLiga. Based on the latest statistics, it seems like LaLiga’s following with <44 yrs population is roughly twice that of Bundesliga and Serie A and half of EPL:
    However (and I don't have any data to back it up), I believe this was largely because of Messi and CR7. We are to see how the following will hold now that the big stars are gone. We do not have new ones yet (Vinicius Jr has the most potential, in my opinion, but I may be biased because of the match yesterday. But Bale, Benzema, Griezman just don't look like fanbase material in Messi, CR7, and Neymar).
    Regarding MLS and MX, I believe that they indeed have more casual viewers. Still, the quality is substantially lower than other leagues, and (esp. MLS) unlikely to see a worldwide star player coming out of these leagues.
    I will fast-forward or exit the video as soon as they start talking about either. I have been to the stadium to watch MLS games, but I am not simply interested in the league).
    ESPN might be more willing to bet in a top league where they can have a long-term commitment.

  18. locofooty

    August 23, 2021 at 3:32 pm

    @Edwin La Liga doesn’t move the needle, yet it’s still talked about enough. I’m not saying they’re #1 or anything, but it tells you something if they were BeIN’s main league and are ESPN’s main league now. Of course a lot of it is hype! I could say the same about who really moves the needle in MLS. There are always the big teams that get the most eyes and carry a lot of the popularity numbers for their league. It just happens that european giants play in La Liga. There’s obviously a bit of a cultural and a language barrier with a league whose main lang is spanish. I don’t disagree about Liga MX, they get numbers that MLS and La Liga would die for. We’ll see what MLS gets in its next contract, but it goes so much more than just TV ratings now. It’s about competition in the streaming wars, bundling, companies going global . I think that’s where some completely fail to see why ESPN paid what they paid for La Liga. With all that, they probably did overpay. Prices are inflated in sports, what’s new?! This shock and awe at what ESPN paid is really hilarious.

  19. Edwin

    August 23, 2021 at 12:36 pm

    @locofooty Respectfully my gist is what difference does it make if something is big globally but registers little interest in our US market? It’s like the old butt of jokes told I hear there big in Europe, or what does that have to do with the price of tea in China? This is just a personal observation rooted in facts.

    Makes you wonder if market interest is being served. In EPL yes but IMO not with Liga MX and MLS. That statement doesn’t apply to our soccer bubble, but the general casual soccer fan in this country who just wants to watch soccer of a team they know from this country or continent.

  20. Edwin

    August 23, 2021 at 12:26 pm

    @locofooty said ” That makes sense. Liga MX has a popularity that would make everyone else jealous. The question then would be How is La Liga still prominent with such “historically” low popularity? La Liga has European giants in Real Madrid and Barcelona. Just those two are a huge pull. La Liga is part of European club football, the transfer gossip, La Liga teams play in Champions League, prominent La Liga players participate in national team tournaments, La Liga has Griezmann, Benzema, stars (possibly Mbappe) will come and leave for the other big European leagues. Edwin fails to acknowledge that or he conveniently leaves that out of his argument to prop up MLS.”

    @locofooty again that has nothing to do with the historically low viewership. Thanks for proving my point. With all those things you listed La Liga doesn’t move the needle in terms of viewership in the US like the leagues above it outside of Barca and Madrid and Athleti. This is what I’m talking about when I said if you read the comments sections like here it’d leave you with the impression La Liga was huge here in the US. It’s not the overall popularity is lower than the 3 leagues in front of it Liga MX, EPL, and MLS.

    That’s not prop up just statistical facts. The disconnect is seen when a certain sect of soccer fans in the states talk about hypes these leagues up to a level in our US soccer sphere that don’t match the actual the public interest. I know that’s hard for some die hard soccer folks to wrap their heads around. But the facts show there is more hype vocal minority around some leagues than the actual interest is. ESPN got caught up in the hype same happened when they acquired Serie A Ronaldo Bundesliga(Pulisic/ young Americans) La Liga Messi.

    Chris and Kartik were spot on and got me thinking when they talked about how you often see these jerseys all over the place of certain teams PSG, Dortmund and often it’d lead you to believe these teams and leagues are huge in the US. Truth is they just aren’t same applies in the US with hype of foreign Euro leagues. Outside of EPL the coverage outpaces the general US sports fan interest.

  21. Michael F

    August 23, 2021 at 9:52 am

    Another thing to mention about VAR and officiating in the EPL this season over last (not sure if it’s different in other leagues)… is they are letting more incidental contact go… which makes it light years better than last season. It was ridiculous last season with all the diving and incidental minor bumps in the box that led to so many penalty kicks. This is a contact sport and a penalty should be called when it is warranted. Not saying they got the non-call on Arsenal player right – but it was still was subjective enough to go either way.

  22. Michael F

    August 23, 2021 at 9:46 am

    @Mercator. While you are skipping around euro leagues watching several different matches, I will tell you that VAR has definitely improved so far over last year in the EPL over last season because I tune into all the EPL matches. Although you could argue they didn’t get it right with Arsenal, VAR is on two counts. It is better for offsides because of the thicker line they are using to favor the offensive player and VAR has been better and faster in determining what is right and wrong for potential penalties in the box. It is only been only two match weeks of play, so to make a conclusion VAR hasn’t improved based on subjective call is premature. They won’t get them all right because human intervention is involved and that is always subjective.

  23. Mercator

    August 22, 2021 at 6:05 pm

    Maybe they overpaid, but thank god they did that Madrid Levante game was fantastic. Vini really put on a show. Maybe twitter isn’t representative but anecdotally quite a few people I know were watching, most football fans seem to have ESPN+. The La Liga matches have looked excellent on ESPN+ and its nice the las La Liga game leads right into ESPN FC. Meanwhile I haven’t heard much about the Marseille Nice match which was apparently abandoned in the 70th minute, because its on Bein. I really wish CBS would add a multicast feature, and I didn’t have Italian SAP on the Juve or Roma matches. But there were some great matches today – didn’t get much done but I picked right with Roma, Brugge and Madrid. Shame about Arsenal, didn’t catch the Bayern game because of that. It was an obviously penalty though, VAR not looking much better this year.

  24. Edwin

    August 22, 2021 at 12:50 pm

    @Dave said “I wonder how much fan passion influences rights fees. The average WST commenter probably changes services as needed to follow their favorite leagues and teams. I suspect (no data, just a hunch) Liga MX, EPL, and La Liga may have especially passionate US fan bases, which may increase the dollars per fan they command. Any data or thoughts on that?”

    Dave I think that has something to do with that as folks tend to get caught up in the hype over the actual substance “data”. As I said you see it often in the comments and replies by folks on WST to articles written. If you were to just read the articles you’d think MLS was dead last in viewership in interest instead of being a definitive 3rd behind Liga MX, EPL and well ahead of the leagues below it in viewership. It’s sort of a vocal minority. Passion is good but sometimes it clouds reality. I think the La Liga deal is just that.

    Anecdotal evidence of this is on Twitter. Because the following of La Liga is bigger globally than in the US market you’ll see some La Liga games trending on Twitter if you set your trending topics for globally. It was like that when BeIn had rights. I just think ESPN got caught up in the hype and took a gamble they could do just what you mentioned very significantly grow La Liga because hey there’s a lot of hype with Messi. This should be easy. they thought. For the debut which is the grand opening to say peak showcase to have done no better than the NWSL challenge Cup Final on CBS or the run of the mill ABC MLS match shows the danger of getting caught up in the hype. I’m sure a alot of the international UK pundits that work for ESPN surely pushed the hype internally of how big La Liga is and how they should pursue and pay the bucks to get the league.

    Again there’;s just a perception disconnect between what people in the US actually watch and what soccer pundits watch and talk about the most. You see it with Liga MX too not getting its dues with the amount of dedicated talk time on show like ESPN FC.

  25. Mercator

    August 22, 2021 at 12:40 pm

    @Yespage, no option to start from the beginning but its like ESPN+ where you can simply rewind a game in progress to the very beginning of the match. No pre/post game coverage on the stream though, just the match.

    Really good halftime coverage from the NBC desk, unfortunately even Howard could clearly explain how outclassed Arsenal is, on a physical and a tactical level. That was a stone cold pen though, VAR bottling it again.

  26. locofooty

    August 22, 2021 at 12:27 pm

    @dave. That makes sense. Liga MX has a popularity that would make everyone else jealous. The question then would be How is La Liga still prominent with such “historically” low popularity? La Liga has European giants in Real Madrid and Barcelona. Just those two are a huge pull. La Liga is part of European club football, the transfer gossip, La Liga teams play in Champions League, prominent La Liga players participate in national team tournaments, La Liga has Griezmann, Benzema, stars (possibly Mbappe) will come and leave for the other big European leagues. Edwin fails to acknowledge that or he conveniently leaves that out of his argument to prop up MLS.

  27. Ra

    August 22, 2021 at 12:12 pm

    Going back to the discussion of cable vs streaming vs piracy, it is interesting to see that Disney is throwing the kitchen sink in Latin America. This is what they will offer in their new Star+ app in Brazil for ~$5/mo:
    CONMEBOL Libertadores, Ligue 1, LaLiga, UEFA Europa League, UEFA Conference League, Premier League, Serie A and Argentinean.
    NFL, NBA, MLB e NHL; US Open, Australian Open, ATP and WTA; WSL; MotoGP; Bellator; Tour de France; PGA Tour and The Masters.
    They are also reportedly trying to get the Bundesliga rights.
    They hold the cards when deciding the mix between cable and streaming, but they may need to offer much more for much less when having to deal with ‘alternative business models’.
    They have the following conundrum: get a lot of money from almost no-one or get a small amount from almost everyone. The same decision music labels had to make at some point with spotify.

  28. Yespage

    August 22, 2021 at 10:41 am

    Sweet! Is there an option to ‘start from beginning’ while live?

  29. Mercator

    August 22, 2021 at 10:23 am

    Yes Peacock seems to have updated, it now recommends the football matches first thing when I open the app instead of some silly sitcom. I also have pause and rewind functions.

  30. JP

    August 22, 2021 at 10:18 am

    @The Yank. That’s great news regarding pause/rewind on Peacock, hopefully that means Paramount+ isn’t far away from doing the same. Have never used Peacock but from what I gather here seems similar in interface/quality as P+ so tech must be close. They’re also teaming up for a streaming service in Europe.

  31. David the Yank

    August 22, 2021 at 9:04 am

    Whoa, Peacock is letting me pause and rewind the Southampton – ManU match this morning. I wasn’t live for any matches last week, so was this discussed? Thank you, NBC; well done.

  32. Michelangelo

    August 22, 2021 at 8:43 am

    I didn’t see an Italian SAP option for any of the games yesterday. I’ve also noticed during the Sassulo-Verona game the stream was glitching and freezing at times especially during Raspadori’s goal. We need an Italian SAP option since it was promised to us. So far I love the coverage from Matteo and Marco during the Pre-Half-Post game coverage. The chemistry between the two is incredible and I’m very proud of them both. Hopefully we have a Italian SAP option due to the fact that some of these commentators are horrendous. Overall excellent so far. Thank you so much everyone. Forza Napoli!!!

  33. dave

    August 21, 2021 at 11:40 pm

    @Edwin, I see merit to your observation that “there is a disconnect often between the comments you see from some on here about whats popular and what the general public watches”
    Liga MX is the most-watched soccer league in the US. NWSL is fledgling and mostly streaming, but its occasional CBS game holds its own by soccer standards (comparable to ABC viewers for Barcelona-Sociedad). I do not know much about MLS or La Liga, but I am not shocked by your data on historical viewership. Presumably, ESPN plan to (need to) very significantly grow La Liga
    I wonder how much fan passion influences rights fees. The average WST commenter probably changes services as needed to follow their favorite leagues and teams. I suspect (no data, just a hunch) Liga MX, EPL, and La Liga may have especially passionate US fan bases, which may increase the dollars per fan they command. Any data or thoughts on that?

  34. Edwin

    August 21, 2021 at 8:30 pm

    @Roberto said “It is a mystery to me how ESPN’s paying 1.4 billion for La Liga will ever payoff. People may watch the top two or three teams, sometimes but do they know or care about the other teams? Why would people here watch those games over the MLS?”

    They won’t any sane person can see that as far as what you said about MLS there is a disconnect often between the comments you see from some on here about whats popular and what the general public watches. The comments don’t match reality. Like there’s a comment how MLS is a TV disappointment if MLS is a TV disappointment what does that make La Liga’s historical US TV viewership the past 15 yrs on ESPN then to BEin and now back to ESPN.

    If La Liga got a 1.4 bil dollar deal with avg 150k HISTORICALLY(so no excuse about homes BEin was in) while MLS has avg 250-300k then I think MLS can pull close to double the $175m yr La Liga gets from all its TV partners.

  35. Ra

    August 21, 2021 at 3:09 pm

    @JP Completely agree. I saw that Kay did the Bundesliga pre and post shows. I believe they will reassign part of the talent from LaLiga to Bundesliga, depending on the ratings.

  36. JP

    August 21, 2021 at 2:58 pm

    @Ra, welcome to the club!!
    Started the day with Dortmund, sampled Alaves/Mallorca before Serie A pregame. Luckily caught Inter’s 1st 2 goals live while going back and forth with Sassuolo. Settled on Sassuolo (exciting match), and now Torino/Atalanta.
    LaLiga the loser in my viewing so far with all the leagues up and running. But will watch Barca when this match ends or gets out of hand.
    Yesterday chose the Belgian league match and watched end of Betis.

  37. Ra

    August 21, 2021 at 2:42 pm

    What a great weekend for soccer! I just realized I shouldn’t bother myself with NBC. ESPN+ and Paramount+ satisfy all my soccer needs. Bundesliga and Serie A are two amazing leagues!

  38. Eplnfl

    August 21, 2021 at 2:25 pm

    MLS remains a tv disappointment. Frankly it’s all about the quality of the league. Name me a player or team in the MLS that the soccer fan has to see? However for ESPN especially the MLS schedule provides live sports broadcasting when no one else plays. Hence MLS survives on ESPN.

  39. bill

    August 21, 2021 at 2:11 pm

    Thanks Ra! I will do it after Brighton finishes 2-0 to start the EPL, ha!!!!!!

  40. Ra

    August 21, 2021 at 1:43 pm

    @Bill Add your favorite leagues on Paramount to favorites for easy access.

  41. bill

    August 21, 2021 at 1:02 pm

    ok, here’s my gripe about the streaming services for peacock and paramount. First, I am grateful that we in the states now have virtually 75% of every worldwide soccer/football matches available to watch. just amazing.

    But as my son calls it ” the clucky” way peacock is set up and now paramount for what is on and when…. I wanted to see the first Serie A coverage and went to the Genoa match at 1220pm for the 1230 start. There was a pregame on with a studio crew that I had no idea was even going on. What time did that start? How are we supposed to know theres a pre game studio show when it says a 1230 start? I know we were told to be calm lol for a couple weeks.

    Now nbc… I thought after the liverpool match with 30 minutes until the 10 am matches that they would continue on the studio show on peacock. Nope they moved to NBCSN.
    LOL so after watching the 1225pm Serie A Genoa pregame I switched to peacock for watford/brighton. It said “starting shortly” then suddenly it started 15 seconds into the match with Arlo and Graham who I had no clue were doing this match and wondering what they had to say before the match started. uggggh
    As my son says “clunky”.
    I understand the enormous challenge in providing so many games on the streaming services (NBS and CBS) but they have to make it “easy” for us to watch the preagme/post game/in between game coverage.
    CBS CLEARLY needs a sports tab on the home page , makes no sense with all the sports they are streaming that we have to go to “live tv” to find a match.
    I will check the liverpool replay when its up on peacock to see if they showed the walk out by the players and the singing or if they just start coverage on the first kick. With nbcsn coverage I’d be taping everything so would be able to watch the dramatic scene at Anfield this morning.

    Anyway.. I know its a work in progress and REALLY enjoy ALL the choices we have.

    As I’m sitting here watching Brighton keep their 1 goal lead over Watford I am thinking about Roma and Jose vs Fiorentina tomorrow . La Viola starts with a biggie and I can watch it so thats cool.

  42. JP

    August 21, 2021 at 9:24 am

    @dave, I never researched the implications for ESPN of unbundling with cable packages, but do believe your analysis that it would be extremely difficult for them to sustain current revenue levels. However that’s not a bad thing. Right now they are being subsidized by many who don’t watch sports. Those of us who do/did watch NBA, college sports etc might balk at the prices necessary when that subsidy of sorts goes away and realize it’s not really that important to them. Then ESPN would have to reduce what they bid for sports and the ridiculous upward spiral of rights fees which then gets funneled to player salaries in the form of increased salary caps would have to stall as well. The sports landscape is ripe for a market correction and this would only hasten it.

  43. Ra

    August 21, 2021 at 9:22 am

  44. Ra

    August 21, 2021 at 9:20 am

    I was just reading that Disney is launching a 3rd streaming service (in addition to WatchESPN and Disney+) in Brazil on the 31, Star+. It is focused on content for adults and includes movies, TV shows and sports. They are advertising to offer a new, interactive way to watch sports and they hold the rights for EPL, Ligue 1, LaLiga, NBA, MLB).
    I wonder if they are testing the waters for a new global offering. It will cost about $5/mo.
    Time to test a new VPN service,

  45. Mercator

    August 21, 2021 at 1:04 am

    @Dave – I don’t think the plan is to just dump regular ESPN on streaming. I think they will just put more content on ESPN+, and simulcast when it makes sense for them. The minute you have actual ESPN on streaming I think cable is dead. It would certainly make it harder for Disney to push all of its other channels on providers. They will just leave ESPN there and milk it as long as possible, but it will have less “exclusive” content. In the end you probably don’t have an exact ESPN or ESPN2 stream available so Disney can still sell ESPN on cable, but in reality you will be able to watch the vast majority of the content on ESPN+ for 10.99 (20.99 with the Disney+ Bundle). The better question is what is Sinclair going to do, they really can’t walk that middle ground because the only point of the RSNs is to show the games, so you either stream them or you don’t. Honestly the Justice Department kind of screwed over sports fans by NOT letting Disney buy the Fox RSNs.

    Then again, it’s not a coincidence ESPN get’s the SEC rights and next thing you know Texas and OU are bailing from the Big 12. Also convenient ESPN’s CFB playoff was about to be expanded, to make more room for ESPN’s SEC teams. Even that was not enough for the mouse, they then tried to kill off the Big 12 to boost the AAC, which of course ESPN holds the rights to. I can’t imagine the sort of damage ESPN could do to world football if they ever start seriously listening to people like Perez and Agnelli.

  46. dave

    August 21, 2021 at 12:00 am

    @Ra, bundling is legal and ubiquitous in many industries in the US. Two common forms are pure (can only buy the bundle or nothing) and mixed (can buy stand-alone or get a better per-item price for a bundle)
    @JP, have you seen recent analysis on how OTT might go for ESPN? I researched that years ago and most credible estimates at the time were that no market-clearing price could get anywhere near current ESPN revenues (death spiral). Perhaps the dynamic has changed

  47. JP

    August 20, 2021 at 10:24 pm

    @Ra, if we could subscribe to channels a la carte then all those important smaller channels wouldn’t survive! We can’t have that, a la carte is evil and bundling is the savior of sophisticated entertainment…..

  48. Ra

    August 20, 2021 at 10:12 pm

    It is funny that bundling is illegal in all other industries. But it is legal, and even applauded by some cable customers.
    It is interesting to see how far lobbying dollars will take you.

  49. Eric T

    August 20, 2021 at 9:26 pm

    NBC has done a wonderful job with the EPL. Be careful what you wish for. Does anyone remember the Fox days? Those were the dark ages. NBC provides substantial TV bandwidth and coverage for the EPL and they treat it like a major sporting league. I know they botched a lot of things last season, but I’ve already seen improvements this year. It would be very bad for the future growth of the EPL if it went anywhere else during the next rights cycle. I highly doubt CBS or ESPN could provide the same level of bandwidth NBC does. Maybe if CBS teamed up with Warner, but I don’t see that happening.

  50. UnitedFan 3478

    August 20, 2021 at 9:04 pm

    Would the MLS scorebug be used for the EPL on ESPN? 🤔

  51. dave

    August 20, 2021 at 7:43 pm

    Enjoyable podcast
    Your comments on Super League are interesting. There is evidence allowing for the inference that Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Juventus have a pressing need for Super League cash while some other teams joined out of greed and still others joined in the spirit of not being left behind. If so, that was always going to make for an unstable launch partnership, with some members needing little excuse to back out
    I know you are both exclusively soccer fans, but there may be merit in drawing comparisons to the SEC (top-tier US college football conference) expansion with Texas and Oklahoma (top-10 US college football programs by reputation and viewership, if not always by on-field results). It was long believed that Texas A&M would fight to the bitter end against adding Texas, yet the A&M board approved it 8-1. It was also long believed that Oklahoma could only move as a package deal with Oklahoma State, yet that hurdle was also quickly neutralized. Rollout was handled well with most ducks already in a row before any news leaked
    Of note, ESPN is a major beneficiary, to the point they were threatened with tampering lawsuits by entities left behind. Suffice to say, there is not too much sustained criticism of the plan on ESPN. And, love them or hate them, ESPN remain influential in US college sports

  52. Michael F

    August 20, 2021 at 6:06 pm

    @Ra. Thanks for sharing. I think that’s cool that it works well for you. With my schedule, I hardly ever can watch matches live with some rare exception. And for years now, my viewing habits of all tv/stream entertainment is be void of commercial/ad breaks!. That’s how I stretch my time budget.

  53. Ra

    August 20, 2021 at 6:00 pm

    PS2: I need to add that my TV is 70″, so the 4/7 size is decent enough.

  54. Ra

    August 20, 2021 at 5:56 pm

    PS: it is the closest to watching games in a sports bar in these times. You sit close to the game you prefer. But you can still glance around. 🙂

  55. Ra

    August 20, 2021 at 5:52 pm

    @Michael F. I usually watch in a ratio 4:1:1:1. So I have a main frame with the most interesting game and I can glance what is happening on other important games in the matchday. The audio usually stays on game 1, but I can get the other audio feeds as needed by selecting the frames or can quickly jump to that game by clicking.
    If you haven’t tried it yet, you should. Be open-minded.

  56. Michael F

    August 20, 2021 at 5:42 pm

    @Ra. Nope. You got it wrong. I have passion for the EPL. And I think NBC sets the gold standard for covering this euro league in depth on match days. I enjoy the sights and sounds of being immersed into a game day match. For those like like you that watches multiple matches at one time with multi-screens of soccer (curious: do you have audio on or off for all?)… you will not understand. Maybe the multi screen at one time is how you younger generation folks can keeps your attention span stimulated. I am just having some fun there. 🙂

  57. Ra

    August 20, 2021 at 5:27 pm

    @Michael F. Would you like to make a disclosure? I find your passion for NBC rather odd.

  58. Michael F

    August 20, 2021 at 5:10 pm

    @Lou. I agree with what you said about the ABC/ESPN coverage of the Barcelona v Real Sociedad pregame and match. And their stadiums are not at full capacity like the EPL currently is and thus a huge difference in match game atmosphere.
    There has been so much continuous critique against NBC because of how they air matches (ie not all on Peacock, only on NBCSN and criticism of the app etc). So what you have is not an objective view of their actual broadcast coverage of matches and studio work on match day. It is still outstanding and opening weekend proved that.

  59. Michael F

    August 20, 2021 at 4:46 pm

    I am with Jason on the multi-view concept to watch multiple matches at one time. I tried that for Champions League matches on Paramount+ because those calling the match would provide spoilers of the other match played at same time. .What I found is that personally I end up missing more of both matches viewed and don’t get the experience I want with taking it in.
    I watch probably 4 to 6 hours of weekend EPL matches live or delayed via DVR or stream. Those I don’t watch i catch the extended highlights of. . I actually make a screen copy of the EPL weekend matches so that when I am ready to watch, I follow that schedule to ensure I don’t get any spoilers if I am behind where matches have already aired.

  60. Ra

    August 20, 2021 at 3:59 pm

    It is not only a matter of concurrent matches but also the amount of time available per week.
    I love multistream because it allows me to stretch my time budget.
    Just curious – how many hours do you guys spend watching soccer per week?

  61. jason

    August 20, 2021 at 3:51 pm

    Multi view? That is crazy. I will never watch 2 or 3 games at once no matter what. Sensory overload! Its not meant to be watched that way. Take advantage of steraming on demand options. You don’t have to watch games live. I rarely do so.

  62. Ra

    August 20, 2021 at 3:26 pm

    I loved Bundesliga’s new score bug. It looks modern and nostalgic at the same time. And the abbreviations are really interesting. Stuttgart =VfB (Verein für Bewegungsspiele). Real sports bar conversation starter… LoL

  63. Lou

    August 20, 2021 at 3:20 pm

    ESPN will be competitive with NBC but they have a long way to go to catch up as La Liga try’s to gain a foothold in the US. NBC is enjoying excellent ratings for their EPL games along all platforms. You can’t tell me Disney execs were thrilled with the 465K numbers for the Sunday Barcelona game on ABC. Of course,, Messi fleeing to France had a lot to do with suppressing the viewership. Also, I wasn’t particularly enamored with ESPN’s overall La Liga coverage. Loosing Messi is a huge downer and I felt the hosts were being a little overly cheerful in an attempt to convey the message that everything will be alright in La Liga without him. The pregame show just kind of sat there. NBC could use a little freshening of their studio shows, I agree, but overall, the coverage is top class. I suspect NBC will easily retain EPL rights for another six years and make some changes to the coverage which will include more matches on USA.
    For CBS, I’m afraid they are in for a rough ride with Serie A. That league has never drawn viewers in the US regardless of who had the rights. If CBS is serious about growing the fan base then putting more matches on CBS OTA and CBS Sports Network would be a start.

  64. Nosferatu

    August 20, 2021 at 3:07 pm

    The scorebug for Leipzig v Stuttgart is white against white. Yikes! The concession of a black bar under Stuttgart’s white box and a white line under Leipzig’s (to indicate their shirt colors in this game) is helpful, I guess, but it does look pretty weird at first glance for this one.

  65. Roberto

    August 20, 2021 at 2:03 pm

    It is a mystery to me how ESPN’s paying 1.4 billion for La Liga will ever payoff. People may watch the top two or three teams, sometimes but do they know or care about the other teams? Why would people here watch those games over the MLS?
    MLS’s numbers are on the increase, you have better access to those numbers, do more people watch La Liga? We will not be able to check the game attendance numbers until all teams get back to full capacity but there is real excitement with the new stadiums and teams added to the league. ESPN would get better value for the money with the MLS!

  66. Michelangelo

    August 20, 2021 at 1:44 pm

    We need a Serie A podcast!

  67. Michelangelo

    August 20, 2021 at 12:20 pm

    I hope Serie A doesn’t have a small scorebox and they create one that’s a decent size usually when they had their champions league coverage on CBSSN. We need a large scorebox for the Serie A on Paramount Plus showing the team names or abbreviations and the color of the kits the teams are wearing. Simple but large is what all leagues need. ESPN and NBC have the best scorebox by far. I also love how they show their statics as well coming down from the scorebox.

  68. Mercator

    August 20, 2021 at 12:16 pm

    @Ra Timezones. MLS games are on US time and are generally played in the late afternoons or evenings, so in football terms, there isn’t much competition from Europe. I will also generally watch MLS games on ESPN+ over Brazilian or Argentine games on P+ because of the Multicast feature, easier to follow a few games at once. I actually think the quality isn’t any worse than anything else in the western hemisphere.

    I also quite like the NBC scorebug. It’s colourful, it has the team badges and while its a bit large, I agree with the gaffer that it makes for better viewing from a distance or when glancing at the score. The Sky scorebug is so tiny it drove me mad, could barley see the time or the score if you were watching in a pub or something. I preferred the old Bundesliga scorebug just because they wrote out the team/city name – some of the new abbreviations are insane unless you are german.

  69. Ra

    August 20, 2021 at 11:55 am

    On a different note – so much great global football to choose from… Why would I waste time with MLS? I watched 5 MLS games in the stadium and enjoyed it, but it is not something I would put on my TV with so many options out there. The same goes for NWSL – I’ve been to some games in the stadium, but only because of lack of better alternatives.
    Can’t wait for the WC and Olympics here in the US.

  70. Mercator

    August 20, 2021 at 11:54 am

    Completely agreed with the ESPN+ being a real challenge to the EPL. I noted this last season as well. Look at this afternoon, Championship, La Liga, Bundesliga and Belgian Pro league on ESPN+. I’m going to do the 4 game multiscreen and hop between those matches, work permitting. What I will not be doing is watching the Scottish game on Paramount+, or PSG on Bein. The PSG game would get a watch for sure if it were on ESPN+. Lower level EPL games fall into this category, I will watch ESPN+ before two mid-lower league EPL teams, but I will skip 3-4 decent games on ESPN+ to watch something like Spurs-City or any Arsenal game. I think USA will be much better for the EPL, even for cord cutters. NBC sports apps are awful, I still do not get NBCSN in 60 fps and NBCSN is the only channel that doesn’t work with my TV Everywhere. USA is 60 fps and works with TV everywhere.

    Also, perhaps this is a conspiracy theory, but you can actually watch MLS games that are blacked out on ESPN+ through the Hulu app, with no blackout. Seems like an error by ESPN, but part of me wonders if it’s deliberate to test the waters for an MLS streaming product that offers all games with no blackouts. I’m positive this has boosted my local MLS team numbers because the biggest impediment for everyone I know to watch the games was the fact its not on ESPN+. We have quite a few fans from a nearby out of market team, just because people can watch that team consistently on ESPN+. I hate to say it but part of me thinks the MLS may end up needing ESPN+ more than ESPN+ may need the MLS – I know I would watch significantly less if it were not on ESPN+. Although, there could be real promise for P+ if they have MLS, Brazilian and Argentine leagues with Multicast, that would be the default viewing in the evenings for me.

  71. Ra

    August 20, 2021 at 11:50 am

    @ Yespage. Why? Because you’d like to pay more? If you want to support your team, you should join the supporters club instead.
    The combined property rights of ESPN+ and Paramount+ match or surpass what NBC paid for EPL and you can get either for $5-6/mo.
    You can also get valuable content from Paramount+ (Smithsonian, News, the new Paw Patrol movie which has been the talk of my house for the past couple of weeks, ‘free’ movie tickets, etc.) or you can get ESPN+ pretty much for free if you get the Disney bundle.
    Peacock’s value proposition is garbage and the subscriber numbers are there to corroborate. Who wants to pay the same amount for a YouTube-like experience?

  72. Michelangelo

    August 20, 2021 at 11:44 am

    The EPL to ESPN+ is perfect or to Paramount plus. Peacock’s coverage is awful and I hated their stream especially the WWE. ESPN+ already has LaLiga and those commentators are perfect for the Premier League. Let’s make it happen and the EPL to ESPN+. Make ESPN+ dominate the world of sports.

  73. Yespage

    August 20, 2021 at 11:26 am

    You mean you don’t want to pay for anything. Demanding all EPL games live and on-demand for $6 a month is a ridiculous demand.

  74. Ra

    August 20, 2021 at 10:48 am

    @John. It is quite simple and you don’t need advanced calculus to figure it out.
    We value the best offer at the lowest possible cost. Simplicity is also a plus.

  75. Michelangelo

    August 20, 2021 at 10:39 am

    @Ra- I’m watching on my Galaxy S9 and also the new Google TV Chromecast. I love the device and I love the look that Paramount Plus give to the app and the Serie A page and it’s gorgeous. My only concern is the stream quality is not the best and it’s not like how ESPN+ is. The best thing to do is add the Serie A, Champions League and Europa League to your list so you don’t have to keep going to the shows menu option. Paramount Plus is announcing some amazing things such as commentators, analysts, Italian SAP option. We need a Golazo zone coverage when multiple matches are being played at the same time since this is what Paramount are known for with their Champions League and Europa Leauge coverage. This must be inlcuded in the Serie A. Overall let’s hope for an amazing season and stream quality. FORZA NAPOLI!!!!

  76. John

    August 20, 2021 at 10:32 am

    Y’all REALLY seem to play favorites and bang the drum against NBC at every opportunity.
    Wonder why……

  77. Ra

    August 20, 2021 at 9:29 am

    @ Michelangelo. Are you using the native app or accessing it through Amazon or Apple+ Channels? The non-native apps are even less reliable.
    I agree, there is plenty to improve in Paramount+; among them is the option to watch most content in several languages, like you can in Disney+.
    I dislike Disney and never went to their parks, but I must admit that they have, by far, the best streaming offer with their bundle. I started to get the bundle with Amazon’s prime day 3-mo free promo but got hooked.

  78. Michelangelo

    August 20, 2021 at 9:20 am

    Paramount Plus needs to add a better picture quality on their app. It isn’t as good as ESPN Plus however I guess it will do.

  79. Ra

    August 20, 2021 at 9:03 am

    I enjoyed the new score bugs from Bundesliga. It is inspired by the stadium atmosphere.

    I miss going to a big match. I just wished we could turn off alsothe narration/commentary to be able to listen to the stadium atmosphere.

  80. Ra

    August 20, 2021 at 6:40 am

    @JP You forgot to mention that NBC also managed to add obtrusive ads to their scorebug (surprise, surprise).

  81. JP

    August 19, 2021 at 10:30 pm

    Score bugs, yes! I always nerd out on this type of stuff.

    The new Bundesliga bug’s major flaw is that each team appears to have a season long dedicated color for their name/score….yellow for Dortmund, green for Wolfsburg, red for Bayern and so on.
    This can be confusing when ones clubs color is red, the other white, but the team with the dedicated red bug is wearing white. While they do have the shirt color indicator below the name/score, it takes just that extra bit of time and effort to figure out who’s who when it should be a quick glance.

    What they should do is make both clubs have either a red or white bug (Bundesliga logo colors) and the shirt color indicator below.

    The best score bugs in my opinion should be unobtrusive and give all the info quickly. The best example of this was La Liga’s circa 2015. It was there when you wanted to look at time/score etc but didn’t draw your attention to it. The NBC bug for EPL is the worst example, too big and draws your eyes away from the field and end up score bug watching!

    The Eredivisie has the best current one, no frills graphically, not too big and semi translucent as well.

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