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American Soccer Fans Rejoice: NBC Retains Premier League Rights Through 2021-22

NBC won the English Premier League’s U.S. TV rights through the 2021-22 season, as reported by New York Times TV Sports columnist Richard Sandomir on Monday. NBC’s contract was set to run out after this season.

NBC won the contract by outbidding other interested networks such as Fox, ESPN and BeIN Sports. The exact monetary amount that NBC will pay has not been released, but it’s expected to be a sizable increase from the $250 million NBC is paying in their current deal, especially since it’s a six-year contract instead of putting the rights back up for bidding three years from now.

This is beyond great news for American soccer fans. NBC began their partnership with the Premier League in August of 2013 and right from Day 1 it was clear they were taking the league, and their broadcasts, more seriously than the previous rights-holders (i.e. FOX, who had owned the rights since the 90s).

NBC won the rights for two reasons. The first is obviously money, they’re paying a tremendous amount of it. NBC clearly values the EPL as a property as they’ve essentially made it the backbone of their young sports cable package.

But it’s not just money that won them the rights. Even if NBC didn’t offer the most money there is no doubt that NBC still had the best bid out of everyone. NBC can offer far more than the other networks can in terms of being able to show every game.

When NBC took over the package in 2013, they committed to showing a live match from every time-slot (7:45 a.m., 10:00 a.m., 12:30 p.m. ET Saturdays, 8:30 a.m., 11:00 a.m. Sundays, and 2:45 p.m. or 3:00 p.m. mid-week games) live on either NBCSN or NBC.

Furthermore, they launched their very own Premier League Extra Time overflow channels, making every single match available to Americans on TV, or via their NBC Live Extra App, which is available for free. This meant that every single team and every single match would be available to Americans. In addition, they also have the ability to use additional networks such as CNBC, and new for this year, USA in case of conflicts or just the desire to show an additional game.

It’s amazing how far soccer coverage in the U.S. has come. To think that just three years ago Americans watched every Saturday as Fox produced a poor production with Warren Barton and Eric Wynalda. Would fans be able to watch the 8:30 a.m. Sunday morning game, or would that match get bounced to Fox Soccer Plus, a channel that you have to pay for that nobody has?

NBC offers what FOX and ESPN can’t. The ability to show every game live on a widely distributed TV channel. While ESPN could easily show the 7:45 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. matches (as well as put the other ones available on ESPN3), they have way too many college football and basketball commitments to realistically be able to show the 12:30 p.m. Saturday game, which is usually one of the biggest games of the week.

As for FOX, not only do they also have college football and basketball commitments, but they also have a nice new contract with the German Bundesliga. If they added the Premier League, where would they show the games?

There’s only so much room on FOX Sports 1 and FOX is usually all too eager to bounce games over to FOX Sports 2 or FOX Soccer Plus. When it comes to online content, FOX does offer FOX Soccer 2 Go, but unlike NBC Live Extra, it’s isn’t free and has an annual fee.

But Premier League fans don’t have to worry about going back to the dark days or having to pay more money to watch their favorite stars. With the Premier League staying with NBC, American fans can rejoice, and take solace over the fact that the beloved Premier League will be in great hands for at least the next six years.

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