NBC Sports Group yesterday released its TV schedule for the first three months of the EPL season, which will kick off Aug. 17 with a Liverpool-Stoke City match. A total of 69 matches will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network, NBC and CNBC with all games featuring "Premier League Live" pre- and postmatch shows. Below is a breakdown on what nets will air games (NBC).
# OF GAMES
NBC Sports Network
SOCCER FOR EVERYONE: NBC Sports Group President of Programming Jon Miller yesterday said that NBC plans to "cross-promote MLS on its EPL broadcasts." In Philadelphia, Jonathan Tannenwald noted there also was "talk of EPL-MLS doubleheaders when possible." But looking at the schedule, there are "very few true doubleheaders." Tannenwald: "Perhaps now that the EPL schedule is out, NBC and MLS can get together and find a way to get more of them." ESPN "proved that MLS broadcasts get ratings bumps when they follow EPL broadcasts." Tannenwald: "We can also hope that NBC and MLS will work together to schedule playoff game kickoff times in ways that get them as much exposure as possible" (PHILLY.com, 7/29).
GOING ALL-IN: MULTICHANNEL NEWS' Mike Reynolds wrote NBC's coverage plans are "reflective of its all-in approach that will make every match available to Stateside soccer fans." NBC Sports Group said that it has "secured carriage for its Premier League Extra Time coverage with AT&T U-verse, Cablevision’s Optimum, Comcast’s Xfinity, DirecTV, Dish and Suddenlink." Relative to "streaming service, NBC Sports Live Extra, the aforementioned providers, as well as Cox and Verizon FiOS, will make all Premier League games available to their authenticated subscriber bases." Meanwhile, "notable by their absence" were Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications. NBC Sports officials said that they are "continuing to work with these distributors and other affiliates" that carry NBCSN (MULTICHANNEL.com, 7/29).
ESPN Senior VP/Editorial, Print & Digital Media Rob King yesterday said that the net "will hire bloggers to cover every NFL team," according to Andrew Beaujon of POYNTER. Redskins beat writer John Keim yesterday announced that he was "leaving The Washington Post to cover the Redskins for ESPN, and news broke earlier this month that Mike Wells had left the Indianapolis Star." ESPN already has "local sites that cover sports" in N.Y., Chicago, Boston, Dallas and L.A., "as well as blogs that cover individual NFL conferences." King said, "Everyone’s staying on." King said that ESPN in total "planned 19 new hires ... and the network has decisions or offers out on all but three spots." Most of the operations "will be one-person, but they will be bolstered by editors and producers who will work to move these bloggers’ work across platforms." King said that the "idea is basically to give fans more content about the teams they obsess over." To "compound the threat" to daily newspapers, ESPN’s coverage will be "available for free, just as many local newspapers are embracing paywalls" (POYNTER.org, 7/29).
Big Ten Network President Mark Silverman has been the net's "creative catalyst since its launch in 2007, bringing each member school roughly" $8M per year, but that "windfall ... was a contributing factor in conference realignment," according to Andrew Logue of the DES MOINES REGISTER. Some schools "jumped in order to gain greater profits and stability, while others were left in limbo as the college sports landscape continued to change." Silverman said, "Not everyone has that ability to generate revenue." He added, "The Hawkeyes in Iowa are the preeminent team. And because they are, they’re a flagship member of the Big Ten and they’re able to generate revenue. That shouldn’t dissuade Iowa from generating whatever it can legitimately generate from its appeal. I don’t think that’s wrong." Silverman: "We’re able to provide funds to these universities who aspire to do all this good in the world. They’re educating our kids. They’re doing all this research." He added, "If we can help these athletic departments fund cross country and gymnastics and baseball, softball as a result of BTN, I don’t think that’s such a horrible thing" (DES MOINES REGISTER, 7/29).
GOING MOBILE: BROADCASTING & CABLE's Jon Lafayette reported BTN "expects its digital advertising revenue to score big this football season." With Comcast and the net's other distributors "ready for kickoff ... Silverman expects double digit increases in digital advertising as mobile viewing jumps on campus." Silverman: "The No. 1 thing we heard from our viewers was that they want access to this on mobile devices." Silverman said that that is particularly "true of students, who 'do everything through their phone'" (BROADCASTINGCABLE.com, 7/29).