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 struck its flag even deeper into the BPL ground. Per a new six-year extension, NBC Sports Group will remain the exclusive multi-platform media home of the Premier League in the United States 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,” said NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus, “and built, what we believe, is a real destination for a growing fan base in the US.”
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 somewhat of a surprise as the Premier League does not traditionally negotiate rights windows longer than three years. Also there were numerous other bidders in the US and various reports that the rights could be split among numerous networks (as is the case in the UK), though it appears the Premier League favoured an exclusive contract.
Various industry reports state that Fox Sports made an aggressive play, while beIN Sports also took a shot at the rights. It appears that ESPN ultimately did not make a bid due to its various commitments to college football in the fall.
The financial details of the deal were not disclosed though it was confirmed to be larger than the current three-year pact that values 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,” cracked Lazarus. “That has happened and we are proud that we were successful in growing the league because we have grown and benefitted, as well.”
NBC Sports’ coverage of the Premier League has been widely praised by fans and media pundits alike since it obtained the property as part of a three year deal that begin in the 2012-13 season. Lazarus feels that his team’s coverage over the first two campaigns sent a strong message about its commitment to grow the league in the States.
“I think there are a couple of things. Our marketing and promotions have emphasised all twenty teams and we’re not just taking the top four or six teams every week and we’re telling the story of a table of twenty. I think the way that we have constructed our 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, its really an overall working relationship. There’s a real spirit that we’re trying to grow this.”
Lazarus confirmed that with renewed security in the deal, NBC Sports would certainly look to invest even more into its coverage, including growing the number of remote trips for original programming over in England.
“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,” he says. “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 of 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 just seen it take off,” Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore said on NBCSN’s air 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 up on the production end by producer Pierre Moossa, has developed a robust collection of original programming to support the live matches, including the pre-match show Premier League Live, The Men In Blazers Show, Premier League Download, and The 2 Robbies Show.