NBC Sports Premier League studio host Rebecca Lowe sets a high standard for presenting soccer in the United States. NBC’s Premier League coverage began with a three-year rights deal in August 2013. Since then, it garnered rave reviews, with Lowe regularly among the critically lauded.
Lowe talked to World Soccer Talk at this past weekend’s Premier League Fan Fest in Orlando. The studio show, headlined by Premier League Live, continues to evolve and grow. Now, it exceeds the show that revolutionized soccer coverage in the US.
“The first few years we were very studio based. But, when we made that first trip to England in 2015, it added a new dimension to the show, and then doing it as often as we’ve done it, and throwing in trips to the Kentucky Derby, two or three fan fests a year and all of a sudden you have a show that’s really dynamic, and even though our studio show is really good anyway, changing it up gives our show a breath of fresh air. What we have done is push the show to the max and give the fan a community and keep a balance. We don’t want to be gimmicky and do a fan fest every week but keep a balance.”
Building the credibility of NBC
NBC organized a trip to England at least once each season since 2015. The lone exception was the COVID-impacted time. Those ventures contribute immensely to NBC’s continued coverage.
“It’s created more credibility and authenticity. Robbie (Earle), Robbie (Mustoe), Tim (Howard) and I know so many people over there. Football in England doesn’t really change. I’ve been turning up at games since I was young, and the stewards and staff in the tunnel are often the same people. We can feel connected once again when we go there, so it helps us remain close to the league and keeps our connections and perspectives fresh. Doing the England trips and fan fests allows us to evolve things and make sure things don’t stay the same. We started in 2013, by the end of this current (rights) contract it’ll be 2028. We have to evolve, we cannot be complacent or static, and the trips really help us move the presentation along with time.”
NBC’s coverage has not only enjoyed critical acclaim in the United States, but has surprisingly grown in terms of presence in the UK as well, helping to set a standard for global Premier League coverage. Lowe discussed the reaction to NBC in the UK.
“A lot of people (from the UK) who either come on vacation here or see NBC on the internet, through clips on Twitter or Instagram are seeing our shows. Plus, the name NBC means so much around the world. It’s like the BBC or Sky now, in terms of the media world. Everyone knows it and respects it. Now, with so many American owners and players, it grows it more, giving us more access to interviews, because everyone wants to be on American TV. [The US is] such a huge market, it’s really well known there (the UK).”
In recent weeks we’ve seen matches between Brentford and Bournemouth where interviews and dressing room access were granted to broadcasters. Plus Arsenal hosted Manchester United, where the NBC commentators Peter Drury and Lee Dixon were joined by Sky Sports Gary Neville in the dressing room doing a set-piece segment. This is something you rarely if ever see in televised coverage of the Premier League. Lowe is hopeful that more access will be granted to NBC and other rights-holders in the future.
“I think access is a slow-burn with the Premier League. Coming here and seeing how you guys do it with the NFL, you see how far behind the Premier League is. Now with more American owners coming into the league you’ll see changes because they’ll want that sort of access given. As much as I love English football, it’s still very traditional and people will push back and it’s in the blood over there to be more restrictive, but slowly, but surely more access is coming. There will be a pushback, but more access is coming.”
Rebecca Lowe serves multiple roles in Premier League coverage
Another evolution of NBC’s coverage has been the weekly Sunday morning television segment, “The Lowe Down.” Originally, it provided the chance for fans to ask questions. Also, it allowed Lowe to don her analyst cap for a few minutes rather than serve as a host.
The segment has a different energy and vibe, helping to keep things fresh for the fans and pundits alike. It is available on YouTube and Sunday morning’s Premier League Live program.
“I was a bit hesitant at first where in England where you are not supposed to have strong opinions, and you are supposed to just facilitate traffic (on the set), but I have a lot of opinions and spend the whole day talking to the guys giving my opinions, so for me it’s quite normal to give opinions but it is fascinating how much other people find it interesting, but I suppose that’s like everyone at home who has opinions and I never know the questions from the guys, so I have to be quick with my thoughts and responses.“
NBC Sports will continue to be the exclusive broadcaster of the Premier League in the United States until at least the end of the 2027-28 season, with Rebecca Lowe likely behind the desk for all of it. That represents 15 years of broadcasting the world’s most popular soccer league exclusively in the United States.
And with Rebecca Lowe at the helm, soccer fans should feel fortunate to have such a charismatic presenter bringing Premier League soccer to us each and every week. The future looks incredibly bright.
PHOTO: Nicholas Casanova/NBC Sports
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