Monday, October 29, 2012

The EPL, ready for prime time


$250m that is the rumored sum that NBC payed to get 3 years of EPL rights. Yikes. Fox Soccer had paid about $23m. It is a great testament to how much footy and the EPL has grown in the US market. What is exciting, is the power of the NBC networks to broadcast a large number of EPL games. What always frustrated me with Fox was, while they showed many games, at times I felt we were stuck watching Stoke City vs Swansea when we could have been watching Liverpool v Everton or Arsenal v Manchester United...from all reports NBC will be leveraging their wider network to make more games available. As much as their prime time Olympic coverage drove me crazy, I will say that they leveraged their extensive network to make a large number of events available through the likes of MSNBC, NBC, NBCSports and the like. Add to this their streaming options and I think we will enjoy a greater amount of coverage for the EPL.

So what about Fox? The EPL was their crown jewel. Smaller rival GolTV leaned on La Liga, but lost those rights and now really only have the Bundesliga.  BeIN has entered the market with the likes of La Liga, Serie A and Ligue 1. Which leaves FoxSoccer with...the Champions League. And that is about it. Which remains a powerful asset, but not one that is broadcast every weekend. On the contrary, those matches are during the week, not really great timing for the US market. This could be a massive blow to the network. Could Fox Soccer go "back to the future?" Before it became Fox Soccer, it covered all types of international sports - especially rugby. Could this be in the cards for the network? Maybe pick up the likes of rugby again, maybe add F1? I could also envisage a bigger play for international matches - World Cup and European Cup qualifiers as well as international friendlies. Regardless of what direction it takes, this is a big loss for Fox.

Of course as fans and consumers of the beautiful game, having more networks means higher quality of service and more options. That is a good thing.

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