Men’s soccer has been on the verge of arriving in the United States for decades. From Pele through the 1994 World Cup to the formation of Prominent League Soccer, it was always on the verge of becoming a major sport on these shores.
A big sport is defined mostly by its financial value. And, if soccer wasn’t already a thing in the United States, it’s now official, with NBC/Comcast keeping the rights to England’s Premier League for a six-year contract at a record $2.76 billion, according to sources.
In comparison, the NHL’s current agreement will pay ESPN and Turner a total of $625 million, while the Premier League will pay roughly $460 million each season.
It should be noted that this is for what are deemed worldwide rights for the English Premier League (EPL). In England and various nations throughout the world, the EPL has its own set of privileges.
NBC has developed the Premier League from a $60 million-per-year business a decade ago to a $150 million-per-year property in 2015 to a $460 million-per-year property now. That is an enormous rise for the league.
NBC has accomplished this by treating soccer fans with dignity. Its coverage is excellent, from studio to games.
While NBC has advanced in the game, the media landscape has shifted. Comcast is shutting down NBCSN, which has been the Premier League’s primary home, at the conclusion of this year. While the Premier League will continue to air on cable through USA Network and on broadcast Television with NBC, Comcast believes it is critical to the growth of its direct-to-consumer offering, Peacock.
At $1.2 million each game (for a total of 380 games) per season, it had better be. Telemundo is likewise under NBC’s control.
While NBC lost the NHL, it was evident that the Premier League was more important to the network than hockey. Its ultimate figure for retaining the rights demonstrates this. Soccer is a popular sport.
The MLS, whose television rights are about to expire, serves as a consolation prize. It will not attract as much attention as the Premier League, but there will be intrigue.
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