NBCUniversal has retained rights to the English Premier League, a growing part of its sports offering in the streaming era, agreeing to a six-year rights extension with the sports organization.
Under terms of the new deal, which starts with the 2022-23 season, NBC Sports, Peacock, Universo and Telemundo Deportes will present 380 soccer matches a year through 2028. The league and NBC Sports have been working together since 2013. NBCUniversal likely paid between $2.5 billion and $2.7 billion for the contract, according to people familiar with the matter, compared with approximately $1 billion under a previous six-year pact.
Keeping the rights was “certainly a priority for us,” said Pete Bevacqua, chairman of NBC Sports, during a call with reporters Thursday. NBCUniversal is in the midst of a plan to shutter its NBCSN sports-cable outlet, and move many of the games it shows to its general-entertainment USA network. English Premier League match-ups “really touch so many aspects and so many different pieces” of the company’s media portfolio, he added. Bevacqua said executives were “comfortable” paying increases in rights fees because the company “was very confident” in the business of the sport, and felt an increasing advertiser base and a growing desire by cable and satellite distributors to showcase the sport “justified” the price being paid.
But maintaining the relationship with the soccer league may have taken on new importance after NBC parted ways with the NHL, which opted to partner with WarnerMedia and ESPN in a new rights deal that secured significant increases in fees.
NBC Sports executives said they believe they impressed Premier League organizers and team owners by building out new events and opportunities to showcase the sport. NBC helped organize “Championship Sunday,” a final-day-of-season event that called for ten games to be broadcast on various NBCU outlets.
NBC faced tremendous competition for the new contract. ESPN and Fox were among the sports entities said to be interested in stealing Premier League away. Keeping the sport “was very much something we wanted to get done,” said Bevacqua.
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