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Premier League Eyes $3 Billion Rights Deal In U.S.

In the NEW episode, number 240, Christopher Harris is joined by co-hosts Kartik Krishnaiyer and Kyle Fansler to cover a range of topics including:

• More details emerge about the Premier League TV rights deal in the US.
• We reveal the 20 most popular soccer teams in the United States.
• Should UEFA and CONMEBOL nations leave FIFA?
• Elsewhere, we reveal what percentage of American soccer fans prefer British commentators.
• We look ahead to this weekend’s games.
• We also discuss FOX getting the rights to two major competitions.
• We’ll explain how this weekend’s El Clasico will not be on television at all in the United States.
• And your questions and feedback in the Listener Mailbag section.

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

Send in your questions, comments and feedback via e-mail, via Twitter (@worldsoccertalk) or Facebook. We’ll read them out on-air in the next episode.

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  1. Adolfo

    October 27, 2021 at 9:34 am

    My take on your conversation on EPL rights, I am a big EPL fan and enjoy the coverage NBC and especially Telemundo provide, I will not follow the EPL if they go to ESPN as I feel that their coverage of their soccer properties is overblown, hard part of listening to your podcast is the constant praise of ESPN. One thing that was not brought up in your discussion on EPL rights is that the the NFL which in this country rules the sports landscape will make sure their TV partners know nothing should interfere with their current coverage, I don’t care what billions will be spent on the TV rights for the EPL package, they and other soccer properties will always be second fiddle to the NFL.

  2. josesa

    October 25, 2021 at 3:28 pm

    This weekend was clear proof why it is necessary that nobody has monopoly in presentation of European soccer. It was “soccer Fest” not just on NBC, but also on CBS and ESPN. OTA or streaming, who cares as long as there is network competition and production creativity that will, ultimately, result in customer satisfaction.

  3. greg

    October 25, 2021 at 12:12 pm

    @Mercator – Could be any number of production or other reasons why they weren’t in the stadium…one might have been for the opener Barca couldn’t do 100% capacity so there was ample room for a production stage. There might not have been the room this time.

    As for the show itself, I thought it was great – Alejandro Moreno is very good as a studio analyst. I’m not fond of him as analyst during a match, but in studio he’s very good. They kept him, Dan Thomas & Sid Lowe working through and after the Atleti v La Real match. They had sideline reporters, Kay Murray and Hislop in the ESPN studios. No complaints at all. But yes, it should have been on ESPN2 or News, bumping the Fantasy show to news. But given what they pay the NFL for rights, no NFL content gets bumped for soccer. And as we’ve suggested, keeping it on ESPN+ is a means to drive subscriptions. But the match coverage was outstanding.

    As for fan fests, the EPL is clearly a major partner in putting those on, it’s not all NBC. It’ll be interesting to see if ESPN does similar things for La Liga, or maybe a combined La Liga/Bundesliga fan fest. If the leagues partner with cash & marketing support, that could be fun as well. EPL & NBC have established the template for how to do it well.

  4. Mercator

    October 25, 2021 at 11:26 am

    After this weekend I have to revise my thoughts on ESPN not putting El Classico on TV. They could have stuck it on ESPNews or something, I actually didn’t mind up front, but after this weekend it was a bad look in my view. NBC had a great presentation with their fan fest on NBCSN, I was really impressed with the Inter Juve coverage on CBSSN, and BEIN had great coverage leading into the PSG Marseilles game. ESPN was the laggard. Their show also seemed to be from the parking lot which was weird since they were in the stadium for Barca’s opener.

    NBC did a really good job. I thought they were nuts for doing a west coast fan fest starting at what, 3-4am? Rebecca Lowe really shines at these events and you saw fans of every club. The last time I saw that many West Ham fans in one place the police were involved. I think this is one of the things that NBC does that no other broadcaster would or could match.

  5. jason

    October 24, 2021 at 9:32 pm

    Question for the podcast. Do you think we will start seeing European clubs return to the USA for off season training again? Certainly for summer 2022. But maybe even some of the clubs on winter break in a couple months?

  6. greg

    October 24, 2021 at 11:20 am

    @Ra – Yeah, that was good. It was actually a cross-platform push of the Guardian’s Today in Focus pod. Football Weekly did a really good episode in August 2020 (when the Saudis 1st entered the picture) about the human rights issues. And when the takeover happened they did a good segment on it.

    re: lower div football, nice piece in The Athletic recently about the joys of supporting lower division clubs

    theathletic com/2882059/2021/10/12/premier-league-different-planet-there-is-something-going-on-non-league-football/

    btw…I know people will complain it’s behind a paywall but I did a year sub to The Athletic for $50…so far has been well worth it. I’ve also contributed to the Guardian as I read 4-5 articles every day and listen to FW all the time. Good journalism is worth supporting if you can.

  7. Ra

    October 24, 2021 at 10:42 am

    The guardian released a very interesting episode in their football weekly. “Newcastle fans have got their club back. But at what cost?” Great food for thought. I enjoyed the last part the most, and I wonder if the lower divisions will be the last bastion for the true essence of football.

    Check it out.

  8. Eddy

    October 23, 2021 at 10:26 am

    @MarioGarcia good points on La Liga and yes it’ll be interesting how much EPL gets since La Liga was overpaid so much. If EPL is getting $250-333m yr the numbers I’ve heard that’s not AS much of a risk as the La Liga blunder turned out to be as any of the two networks splitting the EPL rights would be paying what NBC is paying now but for half the games. The only risk comes with the networks making enough money to make the deal beneficial. There’s a goldie locks zone for these networks to make a EPL deal profitable for them as popular as the league is networks won’t spend endlessly for it.

    If we remember the sole reason NBC moved so much of the games that were freely accessible on tv or free online to NBC Gold then Peacock was they found they were losing money on the Premier League deal and needed a paywall subscription model to recoup their investment. So that’s gonna be a risk for any network giving the limit to ad rate revenue during non-peak programming hours. You can only make so much money from airing events during cheaper commercial ad rate times in the morning and early part of the day vs late afternoon hours and in primetime hours.

    So be prepared for a lot of what we’re getting now with Peacock as networks find ways to justify what they paid by forcing alot of their half of the 180 split EPL games onto paywall.

    Very interesting times lastly the affect of the La Liga overpay will make networks leery in the future of spending so much on foreign domestic leagues. What’s happened in Europe the last 2-3 yrs with lots of those foreign leagues seeing stagnating and reduced domestic rights will start happening in this market. This is those league last big pay day

  9. Mario Garcia

    October 22, 2021 at 11:57 pm

    Another great podcast, lot of interesting points and info about the EPL rights.

    Ranking/Team preference: Maybe it has some sampling issues the poll, because Mexican teams performed really bad compared with the ratings they get in the US.

    EPL Split: Right now EPL is already split; with Peacock you get some games but you will need a separate subscription. If Paramount + shares it with ESPN +, would be the same thing but with advantage that all the games could be bought for much less.

    ESPN overpaying for La Liga: Thankfully La Liga got this deal, they need all the money they can get to rebuild. I did not subscribe to watch La Liga, but it’s a nice addition that is very watchable/enjoyable.

    It will be very interesting to see how much EPL ends up going for! specially after all the overpaying of La Liga,

  10. Ra

    October 22, 2021 at 3:11 pm

    Now that I can check the world feed, I realize that ESPN adds very little to the Bundesliga besides being easily available and the app itself, which is fantastic (especially AppleTV with multiview). They only cover it en passant on ESPN FC and hardly give us access to any 2. Bundesliga games. We would do much better if they gave up on 2. Bundesliga rights. Onefootball would be more than happy to stream every game, and even add narration to it.
    In terms of production, both NBC and CBS do much better indeed.

  11. Stevek

    October 22, 2021 at 2:28 pm

    “Quite a few people fail to remember that NBC retiring NBCSN has caused a lot of commotion and that is why they eventually lost the NHL and they deemed ESPN+ to be the better streaming service as opposed to Peacock.”

    Jasinho, what I remember is that Comcast wanted out of the NHL business once the NHL revealed they wanted the rights split onto to providers. I am pretty sure I remember reading some Sports Business Journal articles at the time that Comcast didn’t lose the NHL, it said thanks but no thanks, had little to do with NBCSN, they lowballed an offer but weren’t really invested. The question is will this history repeat itself, has Comcast decided it wants the Premier League to remain one of its tentpole sports properties, in which case it will insist on the full 380 game package or will it opt out if the Premier League insists on split or shared packages?

  12. Fechin

    October 22, 2021 at 1:09 pm

    @Jasinho it’s not going to cbs if it is it will be on paramount plus exclusively. Cbs sports network is in less homes than NBCSN and USA network. So the growth will hurt if it is put on the CBS sports network

  13. Jasinho

    October 22, 2021 at 12:30 pm

    I am going to predict that if the EPL does not go to NBC, they will go to CBS due to the fact they have the capabilities of broadcasting the Saturday 12:30 US-Eastern time match on the main CBS network and still have CBS Sports Network cable channel for the other televised matches. It would be either next year or the year after that CBS will have more flexibility from not broadcasting college football in the early afternoons.

    Quite a few people fail to remember that NBC retiring NBCSN has caused a lot of commotion and that is why they eventually lost the NHL and they deemed ESPN+ to be the better streaming service as opposed to Peacock.

    Personally, I think the “Premier League on Paramount Plus’ has a better ring to it. If they are to fix their picture quality, they would win our hearts and minds long term.

  14. Eddy

    October 22, 2021 at 11:48 am

    Hey @Chris you hit the the nail on the head with the ESPN overestimating the size of the La Liga community in the US and are likely regretting paying all of that money hence they are using the strategy of putting one of the few La Liga games that can get a decent viewership size on ESPN+ to force those interested in watching to recoup what they paid.

    95% of the people especially on this site knew it was a gross overpay especially considering the size of the contract $175m yr. It’s amazing how people in a company who should have the people know better get duped into marketing hype. The only true foreign league that is worthy of that type of money is EPL. (Liga MX is a non starter since they will never sell a rights package as a league to much self interest w/ownership etc)

    My question is how does this affect ESPN’s long term soccer property acquisitions strategy. Losing the Euro’s to FOX may be a side affect of overpaying for the La Liga rights and now being stuck paying $175m yr.

    I believe ESPN values their MLS relationship so that’s not ending they are a founding partner of the league 26yrs going, so look for ESPN to be one of the MLS rights partners in the next MLS deal likely paying just a bit more than they are paying for La Liga. $200-250m yr for 8-9 yrs. It’s highly unlikely ESPN punishes MLS for stupidly overpaying La Liga so much, what likely happens is this will be La Liga last big rights deal in the US and in 6yrs they’ll have a massive rights reduction. Same thing happened with the NHL 15 yrs ago with ESPN. One thing ESPN doesn’t do is stay in bad deals.

    In 1999 ESPN/ABC put in a 5yr/$600m deal for NHL rights in which they instantly realized they overpaid for, following the end of the deal ESPN agreed to a extension but for half the amount they were paying. When NHL had the 2005-2006 lockout largely resulting from the sudden reduction in rights fees and players salaries ESPN used that opportunity to void the reduced newly agreed to deal. Long story short La Liga next US deal will be bucketed to a much lower fee. The result of the La Liga deal will be a business case study in the years to come as the long term impact will affect other foreign leagues rights deals. Outside of EPL networks will be reluctant be pay such exorbitant fees for foreign leagues in the future.

  15. Mercator

    October 22, 2021 at 11:20 am

    Great Pod as usual. I don’t mind El Classico on ESPN+, every other La Liga game is on ESPN+ so its fair to think anyone interesting in El Classico would have ESPN+. It’s nothing like BEIN which was inaccessible until Fanatiz came along. It’s not the same without Messi/Ronaldo, I probably won’t watch more than the first half, split screen with the Ajax/PSV game. ESPN FC always leads with La Liga, then Bundesliga, then EPL, and that won’t change unless ESPN gets the EPL rights.

    A split of the rights is the worst possible outcome. It’s bad enough already trying to figure out where a game is with the NBC channels and Peacock, now add in a second broadcaster with a few channels and their streaming service. It would be an effective price increase for consumers. I would rather ANY network, even FOX, get the rights exclusively before any split. ESPN or CBS exclusively would be best, they would put all the games on streaming. ESPN + FOX would be be best split – big games on linear FOX/FS1/FS2 (available to stream in 4K) everything else on ESPN+. I don’t care as much about the EPL broadcast, the EPL produces so much good stuff the broadcaster can really do nothing and show the world feed and its great.

    MLS not being on ESPN+ would be really bad I think. I would watch much less. I’m a football fan but for MLS out-of-market games, I’m not really searching for them I watch alot because its on ESPN+ with the multicreeen and I can watch 4 games at once or split an MLS game with football/basketball. Any other broadcaster and that does not happen, I would only watch my local team’s games.

    Juve seemed the one out of place (I’m assuming pessi and penaldo fans boosted Juve interest on social media). Juve ahead of Bayern, Spurs and Club America? No where close in my experience. Surprised Dortmund is so low and that Milan didn’t make the list.

  16. Ra

    October 22, 2021 at 10:53 am

    PS: I still have ESPN+, but I don’t depend anymore on their goodwill to broadcast 2. Bundesliga games.

  17. Ra

    October 22, 2021 at 10:51 am

    @JP I agree with you. At this point the site should be renamed to EPLsoccertalks. I was just looking for more info here on 1Football’s announcement of WW coverage of the Danish and Austrian leagues among others and did not find anything.
    I ended up tailoring a new Twitter account to get the info I used to get here.

    Depending on the country, Onefootball is offering some amazing content. They offer all Bundesliga 1 and 2 games for free in some countries in LA. In Brazil, they offer two Bundesliga matches and one Bundesliga 2. matches in PT-BR per week. All other matches are in English using the world feed (e.g. Derek Rae this afternoon).

    • Christopher Harris

      October 22, 2021 at 11:32 am

      Ra, our sister website had the OneFootball/Eleven news earlier today. We’ll have the news posted here shortly.

  18. JP

    October 22, 2021 at 9:49 am

    After this pod the site might have to be renamed “EPL, EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!”

    But in all seriousness, entertainment is subjective. Saying no other league can compete with the entertainment in EPL right now is presumptuous. Follow any league closely and you’ll find weekends with just as much excitement. It’s all a matter of taste.

    As for no TV for El Clasico on Sunday, kind of ironic. For years we’ve heard how they desperately need to get off beIN. Just imagine if ESPN got it and could put an El Clasico on ESPN or ABC, what a boon for La Liga, and so on. I don’t know the numbers but it’s possible beIN, even after the distribution issues with Comcast and DirectTV, had/has more subscribers than ESPN+ currently does.

    Have to wonder if all the FOX hatred is partly political? Other than the ridiculous “READY, AIM, FIRE” commentator, don’t recall ever having an issue with them (I didn’t see the UCL final where Gus Johnson called the match). Have honestly had more issues with ESPN…Alejandro Moreno and Twellman mostly. All the soccer knowledge is overblown. Just show me the match with commentating that doesn’t aggressively annoy me (or just use the world feed please). I don’t care what Lalas or Carragher or Dan Thomas have to say.

  19. Chris Guardiano

    October 21, 2021 at 11:52 pm

    @greg I think so too in terms of the next El Clasico being on ESPN or ABC largely because of the possibility of doing a doubleheader with an MLS rivalry like Seattle-Portland or LA Galaxy-LAFC. I remember NBC doing that exact same thing back in 2013 during their first year of EPL coverage with Liverpool-Man United followed by Seattle-Portland (back when NBC had the MLS rights). The MLS season will have started by then so it is an opportunity for ESPN to show that they are still interested in keeping MLS beyond next season when the current contract runs out.

  20. greg

    October 21, 2021 at 9:38 pm

    Another thought-provoking pod, thanks.

    Re: Newcastle, I don’t agree at all with Kartik’s take on how NBC handled it and honestly makes me wonder if his now deep-seated dislike of NBC can ever be overcome. They had a long Boot Room segment devoted to the non-soccer side of it, digging in and generally being critical of the Saudi’s human rights record and how oddly credulous the EPL is about the separation between the Saudi government and PIF. Tim Howard was a bit squishy on it, but Robbie Earle and especially Rebecca Lowe had sharp comments. It was a well-done segment, not cheerleading or propaganda at all. And after Boot Room they did as they said they would – mostly talk about the football ramifications. Earle & Mustoe took the same approach on their pod – separating the discussions and not shying away from sharp comments on the non-football side of things.

    Re: El Clasico, you’re right that it’s odd for it to not be on ESPN linear and maybe it is just a push to get ESPN+ sign-ups. But I’ll bet lots of money that there’s no way they sell ad time for as much money for this match than they do for NFL Countdown. So that’s a non-starter. Maybe ESPN2’s Fantasy Show can be moved to ESPNNews so El Clasico can be on ESPN2. But they are not bumping their flagship NFL preview show for a soccer match not involving the US national team. For ABC the timing conflicts with public affairs/news programming and that’s not getting bumped.

    The next El Clasico is the weekend of March 20-22, so I’ll bet they put it on ESPN or ESPN2, maybe even ABC. There’s also a Super Copa de Espana match January 12, but I’d bet it will mostly feature b-teamers from each side.

  21. Fechin Attuah

    October 21, 2021 at 5:33 pm

    Do not want i mean

  22. Fechin

    October 21, 2021 at 4:47 pm

    I don’t want a split happening between two networks especially with NBC. Either they are getting the whole 380 games or probably they won’t want it at all. NBC would not want to pay more for less games is what essentially happened the NHL. I see NBC spending 250 million-275 million for 9 years instead of 6 years. NBC should go after the FA cup as well. Paramount plus should focus on Serie A and the Champions league. ESPN has too many properties right now. Bundesliga and la liga should be their focus. Fox oh hell no. I like competition so therefore NBC should keep it. As much as a want a split between two networks if we have to be realistic it will be NBC and CBS maybe teaming up to get the rights and if they are able to do this and maybe offer a bundle for showtime, paramount plus and peacock to market the premier league in the US to boost subscribers then it’s a steal. They have a bundle in Europe that’s launching 2022 called sky showtime.

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