NBCUniversal Acquires U.S. Media Rights to English Premier League Soccer Games

 Dean Moutaropoulos/Getty Images

NBCUniversal's NBC Sports Group has acquired the exclusive U.S. media rights to the English Premier League in a three-year deal that starts with the 2013-2014 season, the league and the company announced late Sunday.

The latest big sports bet from NBCUniversal under majority owner Comcast sees the media giant win coverage of the globally popular soccer league from Walt Disney's ESPN and News Corp.'s Fox, which airs games on its Fox Soccer channel. The deal includes English- and Spanish-language rights for TV and digital platforms in the U.S. for all 380 EPL matches of the year.

Financial details weren't disclosed, but a source said the deal was worth around $250 million over the three years, well above the price tag of the previous deal.

NBCUniversal networks, including NBC, NBC Sports Network, Telemundo and mun2, along with NBCSports.com will air games as the company becomes the exclusive U.S. rights holder to all Premier League matches across all platforms and devices.

“The Barclays Premier League is the preeminent soccer league in the world, and is on the cusp of exponential popularity growth here in the U.S.,” said Mark Lazarus, chairman, NBC Sports Group. “NBCU will provide the broadest programming and promotional commitment that the league has ever experienced here in the United States. The Premier League provides NBCU with best-in-class content for 10 months of the year across our far-reaching broadcast, cable and digital platforms.”

Said EPL CEO Richard Scudamore: “The NBC Sports Group has an excellent track record in sports broadcasting and will showcase the Barclays Premier League to fans across the USA through its extensive network of channels and high quality production.”

Additional NBCUniversal platforms and networks will occasionally be scheduled to air Premier League matches, while NBC Sports Live Extra will provide the live streaming platform across the Internet , tablet and mobile devices, the companies said.

Pre- and post-match shows, as well as highlight and weekly wrap-up shows are also planned. Plus NBCUniversal is developing a package "to make sure the most avid fans have access to every Premier League match," the company said without providing details.

The NBC Sports Group already airs Major League Soccer, U.S. men’s and women’s national team matches and the Olympic soccer tournaments.

The EPL says it is the biggest continuous annual global sporting event in the world. Last season, its matches attracted more than 13 million fans. Coverage of the matches is available in approximately 720 million households with an estimated cumulative global audience of 4.7 billion.

NBCUniversal previously extended its Olympics rights deal through 2020.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

 

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