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Volume 20 No. 46
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EPL’s final day will fill 10 nets

Viewers of Syfy, Oxygen, E! and Bravo: Are you ready for some English Premier League soccer action?

On Sunday, the final day of the EPL season, all 10 of the league’s scheduled games for that day will be presented live beginning at 10 a.m. ET by NBC Sports Group across 10 NBCUniversal networks.

While contender Liverpool takes on Newcastle United, other teams will try to avoid relegation.

“There is no precedent for it in sports broadcasting in this country and, as far as I can tell, anywhere in the world,” said Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network.

A lot will be at stake on that day in the EPL, which does not have a postseason traditional to U.S. leagues. Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City are in contention for the season championship. Spots also will be available to compete in the UEFA Champions League (the top four teams in the EPL qualify), while at the bottom of the standings, a half-dozen clubs are trying to fight off relegation from the EPL to England’s second-tier league. The bottom three teams are relegated.

The matches to avoid relegation can be more dramatic than the ones to determine the champion.

NBC Sports will announce its programming schedule for the 10 matches later this week, after the games from this past weekend have been played and the stakes for the season’s final day are known. Lead network NBC, however, will carry the match deemed to have the most significance — possibly Liverpool at home against Newcastle United. NBCSN will get the second-biggest match of the day.

The remaining matches will be spread across NBCUniversal networks USA, CNBC, MSNBC and Esquire Network, along with Syfy, Oxygen, E! and Bravo.

Spanish-language networks Telemundo and mun2, both also NBCUniversal channels, will televise one match each, as well.

The idea of presenting all 10 Championship Sunday games across the NBCUniversal networks was suggested as part of NBC Sports’ successful negotiation in 2013 of a three-year television rights deal with the EPL that began this season.
Through April, NBC and NBCSN’s EPL telecasts were averaging 439,000 viewers, almost double the numbers posted for the EPL’s 2012-13 season, when matches were on ESPN, ESPN2 and Fox Soccer.

“We knew we had a great property, but the results from the first year have absolutely exceeded our expectations,” Miller said.

Miller shared an anecdote about the day he realized the EPL and his networks were making an impact.

“I had to have a conversation early in the EPL season with a gentleman who runs another sport — one of our partners, but I can’t say who — and it was going to be a very uncomfortable conversation,” Miller said. “He knew the call was coming, but he got on the phone and told me how much his family loves the Premier League and our coverage of it. I had no idea he was a fan, but it was really nice to hear. We ended up talking about the EPL for 20 minutes, then worked out a solution on the real dispute at hand in five minutes. I guess sometimes a little informal sports talk is all it takes to smooth things over.”