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NBC Sports Acquires U.S. EPL Media Rights; Deal Reportedly Worth $80-85M Annually
Published October 29, 2012
BEAUTIFULLY DRAWN UP: SI.com's Richard Deitsch wrote acquiring EPL rights "gives NBC the most significant soccer portfolio among American broadcasters." NBC is "counting on the EPL to bring eyeballs (and affluent ones at that) to NBC Sports Network, which could use an infusion of high-caliber programming with the NHL on lockout and depressed MLS ratings." Lazarus said, "It will not be unlike the Olympics where you saw programming on CNBC, Bravo, USA or MSNBC." He added that EPL fans "can expect a number of games to be broadcast on over-the-air NBC." Deitsch noted those matches will "likely air Saturdays and be shown live" (SI.com, 10/28). The AP's Rob Harris noted NBC Sports Group in '11 acquired MLS TV rights, and had "success with its soccer broadcasts during the London Olympics." NBCSN's "biggest property is the NHL, whose season runs concurrently with English soccer." Lazarus said that the EPL "will be a good complement to the network's hockey coverage." Lazarus: "It's a younger skewing sport than some others out there, like some that are in a championship series right now" (AP, 10/28).
MAJOR BLOW: SI.com's Deitsch in a separate piece wrote the loss of EPL rights is "significant for Fox, even though it owns the World Cup for rights beginning with the 2015 Women's World Cup in Canada." EPL has been "the jewel in Fox Soccer Channel's programming, and much of the network's programming centers around commentary and news of the league." NBC "sees opportunity in international soccer, which has been trending upward as a television property" (SI.com, 10/26). In N.Y., Belson & Sandomir wrote the deal is "the latest blow to a channel that once dominated the soccer scene on American television." Fox has broadcast the EPL in the U.S. for "nearly two decades." But a source said that NBC will pay "just under four times more than Fox currently pays for the rights" (NYTIMES.com, 10/26).