Report: NBC Universal front-runner in U.S. for EPL TV rights

If you have enjoyed ESPN and Fox’s broadcasts of EPL games in recent years, there appears to be some bad news on the horizon.

According to a report, NBC Universal is close to winning the bid for TV rights to EPL games for three years starting with the 2013-2014 season. NBC Universal has reportedly emerged as the front-runner after offering $83 million, an amount that is three times more than what Fox currently pays ($23 million).

Fox and ESPN had attempted to make a joint bid in the race to acquire the TV rights, but they reportedly were informed that it was not accepted. It is unclear if BeIN Sport, the Al Jazeera network which recently started in the U.S., is still in the running.

While the loss of EPL rights will sting both Fox and ESPN, the latter still has rights to the upcoming 2013 Confederations Cup and 2014 World Cup. Fox, meanwhile, could be in a bind as they rely heavily upon Premiership games and analysis shows for programming on Fox Soccer Channel.

EPL is expected to make a formal announcement as to who won the bid next week.

What do you make of this development? Bummed that ESPN and Fox are losing Premiership TV rights? How do you see NBC doing with game coverage? How should Fox Soccer Channel fill their programming?

Share your thoughts below.

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70 Responses to Report: NBC Universal front-runner in U.S. for EPL TV rights

  1. Nick says:

    I’m excited but nervous all at the same time. I appreciate how much NBCSN has put into MLS to make it look like an important entity. I would hate for MLS to lose importance because NBCSN drops it down.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      I’m thinking the fact that the referenced entity is NBC Universal suggests it will be spread across NBC, NBC Sports, Telemundo, maybe USA, and maybe the Comcast local channels.

      I don’t understand why people are scared of NBC, they do pretty well by Le Tour, the one MLS game they do, Indycar, etc. Meanwhile ABC runs one EPL game early on Saturday, one MLS game that bounces around, only bothers with the home qualifiers, lost the World Cups for the 2018 and 2022 tourneys. Does 8 am eastern EPL soccer on the cable channel scream commitment? Even Fox has been showing games on the network at a more reasonable hour.

      The tough loss would probably be for Fox, who has been starting to accumulate some serious programming. But then it might be good to have competition, different networks with different things, maybe a little less niche FSC broadcasting.

      • bottlcaps says:

        Good point. As NBC sports network is relatively new, they must hustle to get content. There is some evidence that there MLS coverage is doing good enough on NBCsports AND the fact that NHL Hockey is probably dead for at least the early season (maybe all), that there is definitely room on the network for the EPL programming. If you add in all the available hours on all the comcast/NBC channels, the money bid for rights is rather small, but they have done their homework.

        The other point is that NBC sports has learned that there is money to be made by investing in the rights to the “outlier” or alternative sports. They are making good money on The Tour and some other cycling programming. NBC also owns the USN network which heavily covers alternative sports including US soccer. While NBC may be new to soccer they are not new to sports programming.

      • Jman1103 says:

        The reason why ESPN shows one game at 8 am is because it is live and in London it is 1pm in their time zone. ESPN is more intent on showing American college football (which I cant stand) or friggin NASCAR. So unless you live in G.B. where ESPN covers soccer 24/7 you get screwed. My suggestion for ESPN is to put the matches that they cover on their programming in G.B. on their ESPN3 or the watch ESPN app so us Americans who actually enjoy watching soccer, can watch the EPL.

    • K-Town says:

      I think it would be good for MLS. NBC could plug MLS games during the EPL showings Saturday/Sunday morning. Most of the EPL games are done by noon, and the early MLS games usually start noon to mid-afternoon. NBC has already shown a willingness to plug MLS during NFL games so why not during EPL games too? They don’t compete for a time slot.

      • MLS_Soccer_Talker says:

        Yeah. Good Point. I’m more worried about the NHL games. Before the lock out, NHL games were Versus’ (NBCSN) main sport in terms of coverage..I wonder how that will shake up the TV Schedule once NHL is back on..

  2. Joe says:

    Awesome. So many channels, they can show every game. Thank you Jesus, Allah, flying spaghetti monster. REALLY liking how NBC is stepping up to fill the void. Combine this with MLS, you satiate our needs. I was bummed when they lost the NFL (mid 90’s?) because I loved their production value. ESPN has the best, but if you check out SNF, second to none sparkling definition.

    Methinks they may need to get a few more of those trusty cameras.

    • Jim says:

      I believe the in-game broadcasts are produced by the UK rights holders (Sky and BT starting in 2013). NBC will only handled the pre- and post-game, and halftime portions. Sadly, those excellent cameras will not come into play.

      • Joe says:

        Dammit!!!! Come on NBC, you have coin, make it work. Direct it and ignore the red tape like “binding agreements”, “litigation” or “pipe dream for Joe”. Blast it. Way to crush my dreams Jim. And now, it’s drinking time. Samos Timbers, keep Wondo from the record and make it loud.

        Cascadia Cup winners! Woo hoo. Standings be damned, because it was fairly evident they were going to blow goats early on, regional silverware is always nice. Can’t wait to spend way too much money for 2 Sounders away and 2 Vancouver away trips.

    • Dave says:

      I don’t think its necessary to tar Jesus & the spaghetti monster like that. Take it back.

  3. Peter says:

    I would like games on NBCSN and NBC, but maybe they could allow ESPN part of the package. I would like to see soccer get the maximum exposure in the US. Especially the BPL which will always be one of the best and most exciting brands of “football” we have.

  4. rambo says:

    Would most of the games be on NBC Sports Network and NBC?

    • Jim says:

      Mostly NBC Sports, I assume. They’re trying to force their way onto more cable carriers, and this is a good way to do it. But I could definitely see at least SOME broadcasts on NBC. Not any early matches (the weekend version of Today pulls in like 10x as many viewers as the Premier League) but the 10 am – Noon block is open. NBC doesn’t even make programming for that anymore– they lease it to PBS Sprout.

      • Jim M. says:

        NBC owns PBS Sprout now with Comcast acquisition. So that is their own programming. Don’t see that happening unless big Chelsea v. Manu game.

  5. beto says:

    why can’t they all just show it!!! how about no one gets exclusive rights but everyone gets a share of the games..

  6. Gnarls says:

    I approve of these developments.

  7. Tim M. says:

    Thanks God! I deeply hope NBC come out the winner in this.

    It’s guilted me for to long knowing that i’ve given FOX viewership ratings all these years.

    Death to the Republicans

  8. Soccer Rules says:

    That is bad news. I don’t think NBC Universal will give the same preferential treatment that the games get on Fox Soccer. But at least NBC Universal would be better that Bein Sport, which I don’t get. And Bein Sport already has La Liga and Serie A. So I don’t think they can manage to show so many games on one channel.

    • Matt says:

      Um…did you see what their bid was? You don’t pay that kind of money unless you’re planning on featuring it.

      • Soccer Rules says:

        My friend, I sincerely hope you are right…

        • Matt says:

          So do I!
          The NBC Sports Network is a pretty vast wasteland right now…don’t see why they couldn’t put all of the coverage that FOX Soccer has now directly over there.

  9. MLS_Soccer_Talker says:

    I like NBC. It really shows that they are committed to the Sport..I think ESPN had their chance to show they care about the sport (granted they are a company and they care about making $) …But as a footy fan I was always left “wanting” more coverage from them.. and they just never delivered. I hope NBC takes the rights and provides more analysis and coverage than ESPN.. Fox is just cheap. I can’t stand them.

  10. Miguel Rubio says:

    Agreed, I’d be happy to see NBC win these rights. Definitely not crying my eyes out for Fox either.

  11. DD says:

    As long as BeIN sports didn’t win, then it’s an acceptable outcome.

    • Eurosnob says:

      I also agree. BeIn Sports’ purchase of rights to La Liga, French and Italian leagues, as well as USMNT road games in WC qualification pretty much ensured that millions of soccer fans do not get to watch these games.

  12. Monty says:

    I will miss the Premier League on the Fox Soccer Channel. Not because they did a great job with it(they didn’t)but, because they were a channel that played soccer all day long. Meaning you could watch something if you missed it. NBC probably won’t have a channel dedicated to Soccer like Fox. But, I think NBC will do a good covering the games live. In about every sport NBC’s level of presentation is stronger.

  13. Steve-O21 says:

    Great! No more Wynalda and no more Lalas!…or at least in very, very limited amounts!

  14. Chris says:

    The only problem is that NBC Sports just landed the F1 TV contract. Someone is not going to be happy.

  15. Travis says:

    I can live with this, although I would have preferred Fox to retain rights. At least beINsports isn’t going to win it. I would think NBC is unlikely to have a channel dedicated fully to soccer like FSC was so we are going to lose all the classic games and reruns from the weekend. I wonder what this means for FSC though, losing Serie A, La Liga and EPL rights all in one years has to be a serious blow even though they still have WC 2018, 2022 and UEFA CL.

  16. ManicMessiah says:

    Big plus for the Scottish league, I guess, as their presence on Fox Soccer looks like it might get a good bump.

    • Old School says:

      and by “good bump”, you mean the rugby style soccer league the SPL puts on? Honestly, one of the worst leagues in Europe to watch.

  17. Clayton says:

    I wish they would just split the games. None of them will carry every matchup.

  18. dub says:

    maybe FSC should put HD in more markets. can’t stand watching soccer on them! well actually, i do stand it and love it. but it would be nice for some freaking HD for Clint sakes!!!!!!

  19. No says:

    Once again, Ives, how does that move to Fox Soccer look for you now?

  20. Acf says:

    I’m sure Fox will stick with the FA Cup and League Cup. Maybe Bundesliga?

  21. Acf says:

    I’m sure Fox will stick with the FA Cup and League Cup. Maybe Bundesliga?

  22. Acf says:

    I’m sure Fox will stick with the FA Cup and League Cup. Maybe Bundesliga?

  23. Stracho says:

    Anybody want to venture a guess on MLS tv contract in 2014 based off these numbers?

  24. john says:

    This sucks. NBCSN will not be able to give the EPL the attention it gets on Fox Soccer and Fox Soccer Plus. They might be able to now but they definitely won’t be able to once the NHL returns. Fox soccer and Fox soccer plus are able to show games like norwich vs west brom LIVE and also are able to repeat the premier games during prime time.

    • HoboMike says:

      Not necessarily true. The earliest NHL game is noon on a Saturday, and that happens like 2-3 times per season. They like to put NHL games at 3 pm. The latest EPL game is 12:30 here in the States, which is a 2:30 end time. And let’s not forget, NBC owns quite a few other channels, as others have pointed out. Worst case scenario, I think, is that we get the same coverage as we now get on FSC, without the game reruns.

      I’d actually love it if FSC stepped up and acquired Bundesliga rights.

      • CplDaniel says:

        Yes. Now that the Bundisliga has americans liberally spread around, I’ve been wanting to watch it. Saw an early BayernMunic game on GoLTV at a bar. Looked good. I could watch that league all day on Fox. We need soccer close to 24-7 and NBC won’t deliver that. Nothing else matters.

  25. Tim F. says:

    Anyone but BeIN Sport who has not reached agreement with any company that can offer their channel with any company that provides service in our area.

  26. LiverpoolOC says:

    Let’s hope the commentary is decent. NBC already has a strike against it in my book since Kyle Martino is one of their analysts/commentators. His match commentary can be absolutely painful at times. Still, this would deal a massive hammer blow to Fox & ESPN if it goes through.

    • Old School says:

      Not a huge fan of Martino either (credit to him though for his hot wife). The way he over emphasizes every third word makes me cringe.

      That said, I’d take that over Eric Wynalda any day of the week. I swear that man doesn’t listen to his own words and is routinely on the fence about literally any topic.

  27. MensreaJim says:

    I get NBC Sports in HD, not FSC, so good for me. I also have thought their MLS/USMNT coverage was good this summer.

  28. Harth Huffman says:

    I’ll certainly miss access on ESPN3. That service is invaluable to me.

  29. Lenny says:

    This is terrific for soccer fans and I think it can only help grow MLS.

    I, for one, welcome our new Kabletown overlords.

  30. divers suck says:

    ESPN is so repulsive in their coverage of anything soccer, to the point where the soccer announcers and analysts have to defend themselves and the sport against the mainstream attitudes within ESPN in general. It’s absolutely sickening and I hope they lose a ton of money because of it! They care more about 6 month old Poker games and bowling more than they ever cared about soccer!! F*** them!!

  31. TJ says:

    ESPN clearly don’t give a damn about soccer anymore. Check that, they don’t give a damn about televising it anymore. Between little league baseball that carries on through the entire first half of an MLS game, and Sportcenter covering a whopping 30 seconds of soccer (covered by jackasses who don’t take soccer seriously enough to learn the players names) I can’t say ESPN ever really supported it.

  32. AC says:

    NBC’s coverage of the Olympics was great. How many HD channels did they have of live Footy/Soccer. I remember watching one game and while recording another. The production will be quality. Plus here in Chicago NW suburbs; we don’t get FCS HD nor do we get FSC+ so I’m all for this!

  33. RP says:

    I’m not sure what it is but the HD quality on FSC seems soft. ESPN is sharp.
    If NBC is sharp I’m all for it.

    DVR solves the replay problem if it exists.

  34. Charles says:

    Fox soccer was such a niche channel, but for those that love the niche, it work well enough to stink and still have regular viewers. For those that really care about the league there will have to be less coverage…no replays.

    I would rather the EPL stayed there too. I am worried that would be a negatve to the MLS coverage, if only for the EPL talk during an MLS game. Touting a hockey game is a 10-30 second spot ad. Talking about a transfer window takes over a broadcast. See ESPN pathetic coverage for exzmple.

  35. Moist says:

    Okay now is NBC going to have a separate channel for soccer itself like FOX? I hope so, otherwise it will be pointless because I like to watch multiple games at once and I’m pretty sure NBC can’t so that. I hope fox/espn get the bid again.

  36. McLarenSteve says:

    I like how NBC is aggressively grabbing the sports that ESPN isn’t committed to, and that Fox can’t pay for. My only problem is after the awful coverage they displayed during the Olympics, I don’t know if this is a good thing for Soccer or F1, which will also be on NBC next season. The Olympics was more of a TV show about what happened rather than actually watching what was happening. I didn’t get FSC or FSC+ so I usually have to resort to pirated streams to watch my EPL, so hopefully this turns out for the best.