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Volume 6 No. 212


NBC & NBC Sports Network Programming President Jon Miller recapped the network’s first Premier League broadcast weekend by saying it was a "terrific weekend" with rating numbers higher than "anticipated." NBC Sports said that more than 3.4 million U.S. viewers watched its seven EPL broadcasts over the weekend. The five English-language games on NBC and NBCSN averaged 443,000 viewers, a 78% increase from what ESPN and Fox Soccer averaged last year. Based on those numbers, it is not surprising that Miller praised the network’s coverage. "I thought we came on the air strong. I think it was a seamless transition from the studio right into our first game," Miller said. "The numbers surprised even us. Our first weekend, the overnights were even higher than we anticipated, and we tend to be pretty bullish on the property. Internally we were a little pessimistic, but it still blew through all of those expectations. You know this is the first weekend of the first year of our deal, and to get out of the box like this was a great signal to everybody." NBC acquired the EPL rights for $250M for three seasons starting with the ’13-14 campaign. It will broadcast all 380 league matches across its networks and online. Asked if the U.S. is ready for wall-to-wall EPL coverage, Miller told SBD Global, "We think this is the kind of property that actually lends itself to what we do, and we were actually welcoming the opportunity to showcase all of our different assets. This league, more than any other, lends itself to that. It’s similar to what we do with the Olympics and to some degree what we do with the National Hockey League." Miller also admitted that there were "a few hiccups" during the broadcasts, but nothing major. He described the inaugural "BPLonNBC" weekend as an all in all "terrific weekend." Miller: "A lot of us were sitting around on Saturday morning in a room with all the games up and while we were watching the games, we were also on our phones, computers and iPads searching Twitter and people on Facebook. And we were really blown away with the comments and reaction of viewers.”

PAINT THE TOWN: Ahead of NBC's first Premier League broadcasts, EPL CEO Richard Scudamore revealed his excitement about the league's deal with the network. Scudamore told SBD Global, "[It] is a fantastic opportunity for the league and our clubs to be showcased to sports fans in the U.S. NBC Sports has a fantastic track-record of delivering high quality programming and the marketing work they have already undertaken in the U.S., including Premier League club branded subway carriages, billboards in Times Square and much more, has us very excited about the exposure they will give to the league in the coming seasons." NBC's EPL promotions also included a comedic ad featuring actor Jason Sudeikis. Fans can expect this aggressive promotion and marketing to continue throughout the season. Miller: "We kind of challenged [our marketing and promotion groups] and said, 'Let’s do some things that are new and different and unorthodox and let’s get the word out,' and they clearly had a lot of fun with it. They have some other things planned as we go along through the season. I think these are some of the fun opportunities that the Premier League presents itself to."

Virgin Media "has signed world champion sprinter Christine Ohuruogu to join Mo Farah and Usain Bolt in its advertising campaign as part of the marketing battle for broadband customers with rivals including BSkyB and BT," according to Mark Sweney of the London GUARDIAN. The pay-TV and broadband operator "is understood to have signed a six-figure sponsorship deal with Ohuruogu, which will run until the end of next year, in the wake of her stunning on-the-line win in the 400m at the World Athletics Championships in Moscow last week." Virgin Media "is expected to use the athletes in a major campaign to promote its high-speed broadband services in support of the company's sponsorship of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games." Virgin Media's deal with the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, which includes being the presenting partner of athletics, "is the company's first foray into sports sponsorship" (GUARDIAN, 8/22).

German public broadcaster ZDF "has received Wednesday's top ratings with its broadcast of the Champions League playoff round matchup between FC Schalke and PAOK Saloniki," according to Sidney Schering of QUOTENMETER. A total of 5.94 million viewers tuned in to watch the 1-1 draw. The number translated into a 22.6% market share. In the target demographic 14-49, the game, which started at 8:45pm, attracted 1.53 million viewers and had a 15.8% share. The pregame coverage, which started at 8:15pm, was watched by 3.62 million viewers and obtained a 15.4% market share. In the target demographic, the pregame show "ZDF SPORTextra" was watched by 910,000 viewers and had a 10.6% share. Following the live game, the channel aired highlights of other games and attracted 3.28 million viewers. In the target demographic, the highlight show was watched by 900,000 viewers. The show, which started at 10:50pm, obtained market shares of 17.1% and 11.9%, respectively (QUOTENMETER, 8/22).

ABS-CBN sports network Balls Channel acquired the rights to show live Premier League matches in the Philippines (SPIN, 8/22). ... German sports broadcaster sportdigital "has become available in neighbouring Switzerland for the first time." The country's largest cable operator UPC Cablecom "has added the pay-TV channel to its line-up" (RAPID TV NEWS, 8/21). ... National Rugby League Melbourne Storm veteran Brett Finch has signed a deal with Channel Nine after announcing his retirement from the game. Finch: "The time has come for me to enter a new phase of my life" (HERALD SUN, 8/22).