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Volume 25 No. 128
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NBC, ESPN, Fox Expected To Bid On EPL With Separate Three-, Six-Year Packages

U.S. bids to carry EPL games have to be submitted by Aug. 6, and all the usual suspects are planning to be involved -- incumbent NBC, ESPN and Fox, according to multiple sources. The new wrinkle in this bidding process is that the EPL has told the networks that it will accept both three-year and six-year bids, a significant change for a league that previously has signed three-year media deals. A source said each network was likely to submit two bids -- one for three years, one for six -- and the EPL only would accept the six-year bid if it “blows them out of the water.” Sources expect the EPL to make a decision soon after receiving the bids, though it is possible that the league could extend the bidding process to two or even three rounds. NBC Sports Group, which has the current rights as part of a three-year deal worth around $83M annually, plans to put forth an aggressive bid to continue a partnership that has provided NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra with high-quality weekend morning programming. ESPN and Fox Sports Group also plan to submit separate bids -- another change from three years ago, when they put forth a combined bid. Sources said that the EPL only will accept one bid for all the games. There previously was speculation that the EPL might split the U.S. rights into as many as three packages, but league officials have told U.S. TV execs that they can bid on only the full package of games. The last time the EPL took its U.S. media rights to market was in '12, when NBC outbid ESPN/Fox and beIN Sports.

BID FROM DIGITAL COMPANY UNLIKELY: Sources said it is unlikely that a company like Google, Yahoo or Amazon will put forth bids because the EPL is requiring that bids have minimum broadcast and cable television requirements. While the network with the biggest bid almost certainly will wind up with the rights, a source said that EPL execs also are interested in a network’s reach to increase the value of jersey sponsorships and, potentially, bolster jersey sales. That would give established networks like ESPN, Fox and NBC an advantage over upstarts like beIN Sports.