NBC Sports Group Nets Six-Year Extension for Barclays Premier League
NBC Sports Group has a budding property on its hands with the Barclays Premier League, and, on Monday, it stuck its flag even deeper into the BPL ground. Per a new six-year extension, NBC Sports Group will remain the exclusive multiplatform media home of the Premier League in the U.S. through the 2021-22 season.
“[The Premier League] gives us nine months of weekend-morning and early-afternoon programming that has become synonymous with NBC Sports,” says NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus, “and built what we believe is a real destination for a growing fanbase in the U.S.”
NBC Sports Group will continue to make all 380 Premier League matches available — via NBCUniversal’s NBC, NBCSN, USA Network, Telemundo, and NBC Universo linear channels, plus the Premier League Extra Time TV package — and via live stream on NBC Sports Live Extra or other platforms.
The announcement comes as something of a surprise: the Premier League does not traditionally negotiate rights windows longer than three years. Also, there were numerous other bidders in the U.S. and various reports that the rights could be split among networks (as is the case in the UK), although it appears that the Premier League favored an exclusive contract.
Various industry reports indicate that Fox Sports made an aggressive play and beIN Sports also took a shot at the rights. It appears that ESPN ultimately did not make a bid because of its various commitments to college football in the fall.
The financial details of the deal were not disclosed, although it was confirmed to be larger than the current three-year pact, valued at $250 million.
“When we made our bid three years ago, we said to [Premier League Chief Executive] Richard [Scudamore], if we’re successful, we know we are going to have to pay more money to retain these rights,” cracks Lazarus.“That has happened, and we are proud that we were successful in growing the league, because we have grown and benefited as well.”
NBC Sports’ coverage of the Premier League has been widely praised by fans and media pundits alike since the property was obtained as part of a three-year deal that begin with the 2012-13 season. Lazarus feels that his team’s coverage over the first two campaigns (season three got under way this past weekend) sent a strong message about its commitment to grow the league in the States.
“I think there are a couple of things,” says Lazarus. “Our marketing and promotions have emphasized all 20 teams. We’re not just taking the top four or six teams every week; we’re telling the story of a table of 20. We have constructed specialty days — like Championship Sunday — where we run multiple matches. We have created the original programming needed to support the matches. It’s not one thing; it’s really an overall working relationship. There’s a real spirit that we’re trying to grow this.”
He confirms that, with renewed security in the deal, NBC Sports will certainly look to invest even more in its coverage, including growing the number of trips to the UK for original programming.
“I think our commitment to go over there opened a lot of eyes for [the Premier League], and now having this property for another seven seasons gives us the ability to invest,” Lazarus points out. “In a three-year cycle, the minute you sign, you feel like you are running for office again. We are in office for a little while now, so we can continue to invest.”
Premier League viewership continues to climb for NBC. Last season’s coverage averaged a record 479,000 viewers — up 9% from the league’s debut season with NBC Sports. There was also a 22% increase last season in streaming minutes, with 317 million minutes of live Premier League action consumed via NBC Sports Live Extra.
“The incredible thing in the last two years, with what NBC had managed to do in terms of marketing, promotion, and bringing all the games to the television audience, is that we’ve seen it take off,” Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore said on NBCSN prior to Monday’s West Bromwich Albion-Manchester City match. “Now, instead of being a minority conversation, if you like, it really is mainstream, and a lot of people are talking about it.”
NBC Sports’ Premier League outfit, which is headed on the production end by producer Pierre Moossa, has developed a robust collection of original programming to support the live matches, including the prematch show Premier League Live, The Men in Blazers Show, Premier League Download, and The 2 Robbies Show.