NBC secures English Premier League soccer rights with US$250 million deal
By Rob Harris ,AP October 30, 2012, 12:13 am TWN
LONDON -- NBC's network will televise the English Premier League under a US$250 million, three-year deal that begins next season.
The network will show every match from the world's most popular soccer league, taking coverage away from Fox and ESPN.
"The Barclays Premier League is the pre-eminent soccer league in the world, and is on the cusp of exponential popularity growth here in the U.S.," NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus said Sunday.
NBC picked up Major League Soccer last year and had success with its soccer broadcasts during the London Olympics.
Criticized for using tape delay with the Olympics because of time differences, NBC will not do so with Premier League games, Lazarus said.
"We think we're acquiring a set of assets that has unique affluent male appeal that's very attractive to advertisers and attractive to cable operators," Lazarus said.
NBC's English-language networks will televise six live games a week. One or two of the company's other cable channels will be used along with NBC Sports Network, Lazarus said, but which ones have not been determined yet as schedules are evaluated. Other games will be streamed live online.
The network has been expanding its sports portfolio since cable company Comcast took over NBCUniversal in January 2011, a merger that paired cable sports channel Versus with NBC Sports. Versus was renamed NBC Sports Network at the start of this year.
Lazarus has highlighted how live sports events are the best way to grow the channel's audience, but not many properties are available in the short term, and he acknowledges that the incumbents generally have an advantage once negotiations for new contracts start.
NBC recently signed a deal for Formula One. But NBC Sports Network's biggest property is the NHL, whose season runs concurrently with English soccer. The EPL will be a good complement to the network's hockey coverage, Lazarus said, adding live soccer games in the morning and afternoon to prime-time NHL broadcasts.
"It's a younger skewing sport than some others out there, like some that are in a championship series right now," Lazarus said, in apparent reference to Major League baseball and its older viewership.
The previous three-year EPL deal with Fox, that saw some matches sublicensed to ESPN, was worth about US$80 million.
The EPL has sold its TV rights in Britain to BSkyB and BT for 3.018 billion pounds (US$4.86 billion) in a record three-year deal from the 2013-14 season.
The EPL said NBC will deliver the "biggest and broadest programming and promotion commitment ever in the United States" for the league.
"The NBC Sports Group has an excellent track record in sports broadcasting," EPL chief executive Richard Scudamore said.
Telemundo and mun2 will show Spanish-language coverage in the U.S.
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