According to the sports media blog Awful Announcing, NBC has made a stunning bid to win exclusive rights to what is generally regarded as the best soccer league in the world, the English Premier League. NBC’s three year deal starts next year with the 2013-14 season and runs through the 2015-16 season, and shows a commitment to bringing wide-ranging soccer coverage to the US, both on broadcast television, on the flagship NBC network, and on cable television on NBC Sports Network, as well as other NBC owned channels such as CNBC, MSNBC, USA and Bravo. NBC and its family of networks will have the rights to all 380 EPL games each year, meaning other channels like Fox Soccer, ESPN, and beIn Sport are left without.
The plan is to air 18-20 EPL games live on NBC broadcast television, a first for televised soccer in America. NBC Sports Network, as the main broadcaster for the league, will air multiple games each weekend, and all games that are not televised will be shown on NBC Sports Live Extra, their online platform, so every game will be available in one fashion or another.
While this is a good thing for soccer fans, as more games will be available to view, it’s a shame that ESPN is getting out of the soccer market, as that was one of the few sports of which they actually offered fantastic coverage. After the World Cup in 2014, ESPN will no longer have rights to that property, and losing the EPL entirely is a big blow. Fox Soccer is also a big loser in this deal, as they currently air about 50 hours a week of EPL coverage between games and highlight shows. They will have to gain access to other international leagues to fill out their portfolio.
More on this as it develops at the TV, Internet and Phone Blog.