NBC nets US English Premier League football rights

Joseph O'Halloran | 29-10-2012

On a day when the Everton, Liverpool and Chelsea, Manchester United games showed just why the league is the global favourite, NBC has swooped in to score US rights to show the English Premier League (EPL).

In the summer the US broadcasting giant attracted as many bouquets as brickbats for its coverage of the London Olympics broadcasting but in one sport, football, its coverage was regarded as first class especially in that of the successful US women’s football team.

The passion for the beautiful game has been supported by sound financial performance by the broadcaster and its parent US cableco Comcast for whom in its third financial quarter ended 3) September reported revenues of over $2 billion, a 132% increase. Driven by the Olympics, the NBCU business line showed a revenue increase of 31.2%.

Such a financial footing has allowed the company to score the EPL rights in the wake of fierce competition from Al Jazeera’s recently launched beIN Sport and a joint bid from FOX and incumbent ESPN whose coverage opened up the US to football. While the precise details of the deal have not been released it is thought, just like with Sky’s acquisition of EPL rights in the UK, the winning bid is an unprecedented amount and many times that paid in the previous round. Some reports in the US put the figure at just over $80 million, more than three times the value of the current deal.

In addition to showing games on the core NBC and NBC sports network, the broadcaster is set to use its NBC Sports Live Extra platform for live streaming to PC, mobile and smartphones. Crucially for a league whose leading players include Louis Suarez, Fernando Torres and Javier ‘Chicarito’ Hernández it will also use the Telemundo and mun2 for Spanish-language coverage.

Commenting on the deal, NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus said: "The Barclays Premier League is the pre-eminent soccer league in the world, and is on the cusp of exponential popularity growth here in the US…We think we're acquiring a set of assets that has unique affluent male appeal that's very attractive to advertisers and attractive to cable operators.”