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Not quite sweaters for goalposts
October 29, 2012 3:35 AM   Subscribe

Football's (soccer, that is) ultimate conquest of North America comes a step closer with the sale of English Premier League broadcasting rights to NBC for 250 million dollars. Unlike the Olympics, NBC has indicated that they'll broadcast the games live, to complement their NHL broadcasts.

Unlike some other football leagues, the Premier League is relatively fair in how it divides its television income. Fifty percent of domestic income is divided equally over the twenty clubs, with the other fifty percent paid out according to how many matches played by a given club have been broadcast and the final position in the League. Overseas television rights are even more fair, split equally between all twenty clubs. The clubs that really lose out are those that are relegated to the lower divisions, solidarity and parachute payments notwithstanding.

(All of which, and much more, explained in great detail at The Swiss Ramble, an excellent blog for those interested in the financial side of football.)
posted by MartinWisse (65 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
To complement their NHL broadcasts. That's a good one.
posted by three blind mice at 3:45 AM on October 29, 2012 [14 favorites]


Yeah, I was going to say, that's a bit like complementing their Browns playoff coverage or their tips for unicorn husbandry.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:02 AM on October 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


So why have I paid extra for Fox Soccer Channel and the Fox Soccer2Go app?

I'm very interested to see how NBC "shows all the games live." It's one thing to hijack the broadcast of MSNBC, CNBC, USA, Bravo, et al during the Olympics...

I will be very upset if coverage forces me to illicit streaming sites.
posted by kuanes at 4:02 AM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


It sounds like you will still need cable to watch it, the "NBC Sports Network". Well, I was excited for a minute anyway.
posted by Brocktoon at 4:10 AM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


They bought the games for their sports network - which is currently marooned at around channel 158 on my cable system.

Between this and the utterly terrible decision to sell Spanish, Italian, and French League rights to Al-Jazeera it's all getting a little Keystone Kops-ish.
posted by JPD at 4:11 AM on October 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


What the hell will they show on Fox Soccer Channel?

The Champions League games every 4 or 5 weeks? Rugby? USL GAME OF THE WEEK?
posted by kuanes at 4:14 AM on October 29, 2012


Yeah, Fox Soccer is sort of boned. Glad my 2Go account subscription ends in September.

More importantly, what will become of Sir Ian Darke?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:17 AM on October 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


Sweaters? Jumpers shurely?

I'm shure you will all be dying to watch Stoke vs Sunderland, one of the most boring games of the weekend. Also, I always thought soccer failed in the USA because of a lack of stats (batting av. .345 etc).

Then again, the rules are probably the simplest of any sport. Mostly they are about pitch size and markings, and these are vague (length between 90 -120 yards, width between 50-70 yards AFAIR), and the one that really counts is Rule 10: The team that scores the most goals will be declared the winner.

And at least you will be able to join in with our wonderful diving & racism debates.
posted by marienbad at 4:34 AM on October 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sigh and I pay extra for Fox Soccer Plus too which used to be Setanta. I don't know what good FSC is anymore and I hope that NBC's sports network does not cost extra. I will miss watching three games on a Saturday though. The 4:30 AM game on ESP2 and 7 and 9:30 AM games on Fox Soccer , Fox Soccer plus.

I hope NBC does not screw this up and I get to see Arsenal games as I am used to now. If not, streaming it is!
posted by viramamunivar at 4:51 AM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pfft... it's not like NBC has anything else to show at at 3:00 PM on a weekday.

I am still curious as to how they're going to manage to show all of them though.
posted by Blue_Villain at 4:57 AM on October 29, 2012


I assume they'll be streaming some games. Hope it's a free app!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:00 AM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would guess that since this is part of a gambit to improve the placement and ratings do their Sports network and that also requires the cable networks to get on board, it is probably pretty unlikely they'll be doing anything interesting on the streaming side. Probably all paid and/or linked to cable subscribers.
posted by JPD at 5:04 AM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


NBC has been on a bit of an international sports tear lately. They just recently secured the US broadcasting rights to Formula 1. That plum has been with Speed TV (a FOX property) for the past umpteen years. F1 will primarily be broadcast on NBC Sports Channel.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:29 AM on October 29, 2012


robocop, Ian Darke called a bunch of the World Cup games, so I don't think this means we'll lose him.
Maybe FSC will now expand their Serie A coverage and give us the Bundesliga coverage we so richly deserve.
posted by Dr. Zira at 5:47 AM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


This seems like bad news to me. Not sure why people are so excited.
When was the last time that NBC did a good job with sports?
I mean, NBC can't even do the NFL right - they had Dennis Miller doing Monday Night Football!?

ESPN and Fox had several sports channels between, and lots of EPL games were on TV.
NBC has versus - one channel.
posted by Flood at 5:48 AM on October 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Maybe FSC will now expand their Serie A coverage and give us the Bundesliga coverage we so richly deserve.

unfortunately Serie A, La Liga, and Ligue 1 sold all of their rights to Al-Jazeera Sports - a network that is not even available to the terrestrial cable providers. The articles surrounding it are hillarious - basically the Italians sold them the rights w/o even realizing they had just removed their games from TV. The theory is that AJ wants to buy GolTV (who own LatAm and Bundesliga rights) and use their carriage to get the games on TV.
posted by JPD at 5:53 AM on October 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


I assume they'll be streaming some games. Hope it's a free app!

I seem to recall the Guardian article says that's the plan. Reading the article last night, I pretty much assumed they'd use the same model as during the Olympics and require cable subscription. I had my hopes up until I realised Comcast was mentioned in the same paragraph and remembered the Olympics. So that's no evidence whatsoever, but the likelihood of a match being any where I can see it ever is about zero.
posted by hoyland at 5:59 AM on October 29, 2012


Oh, I did note they were planning Spanish language broadcasts on Telemundo and some station I'd never heard of (so presumably cable). That would be exciting to me, except there is no Telemundo in Minneapolis. We have a Univision station that didn't go digital. Yes, really, it's transmitter is so small it didn't have to switch.
posted by hoyland at 6:00 AM on October 29, 2012


I mean, NBC can't even do the NFL right - they had Dennis Miller doing Monday Night Football!?

That was ten years ago, and ended after two seasons. Not that it wasn't stupid, but we've moved on as a culture. And judging just by what's on today, compared to Fox, CBS and ESPN, NBC probably has the most consistently good NFL coverage on TV. If only because they don't have Joe Buck or Phil Simms.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:01 AM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not only was it ten years ago, but it was also on ABC.
posted by JPD at 6:03 AM on October 29, 2012 [10 favorites]


No need to be demeaning, marienbad. This isn't a post about the popularity of Association Football in America -- however much threads on the latter two topics tend to devolve into same, you're not helping. It's a post about the television rights of EPL over here, and that's actually kind of a big deal.

Depending where you're at over here, you have a "choice" between two satellite and one to four cable television access providers. One EPL game per week is carried on ESPN or ESPN2, which is cool because those channels are generally standard on all those carriers. The other games, however, are carried (live or tape-delayed) on Fox Soccer and Fox Soccer Plus, Murdoch-owned channels which are carried at a price premium, if at all.

A move to NBC Sports is good then, because most providers carry that channel (it represented the primary Olympics coverage last summer, albeit with some issues with tape delay, v.s.) On the other hand, it's only one channel, compared to three.

This might have some effect on the popularity of the game on those Americans who'll benefit from your tutorial on laws one and ten. But it has a definite effect on those of us already following. Come on over some time, and enjoy waking up at six AM to go to the bar to watch a match, whether for the company or because they shell out tons of money to have it on and it's the only way you'll get to see it.

And by the way, Stoke should have won that one.
posted by 7segment at 6:07 AM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


*sigh* I'm still not going to seebmuch of Blackburn with this .
posted by KingEdRa at 6:20 AM on October 29, 2012


Great, even more US supporters for Arsenal....
posted by PenDevil at 6:35 AM on October 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


The clubs that really lose out are those that are relegated to the lower divisions, solidarity and parachute payments notwithstanding.

That's still a pretty significant 'notwithstanding' compared to the leagues of other countries though.
posted by ersatz at 6:36 AM on October 29, 2012


*sigh* I'm still not going to seebmuch of Blackburn with this .

Thank the Peacock for small mercies.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 6:37 AM on October 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Very interesting! Fox is also killing its Speed branded channel and turning it into a broader sports channel. Meanwhile NBC bought the rights to broadcast Formula 1 for 2013 and promised to show all 19 or 20 races live (4 on broadcast, and the others on its cable channel). Sounds like NBC is making a push for these niche and growing markets.
posted by yeti at 6:48 AM on October 29, 2012


In other news, English Premier League games will now be played at 2AM UTC.
posted by bowline at 7:31 AM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


First the Formula 1, and now the Football? Wow, maybe those folk at NBC really are the euro-lovin' socialists Fox says they are. ;)
posted by adamt at 7:35 AM on October 29, 2012


Oh so basically it's going to be the Chelsea, Man U, City or Arsenal game of the week every week.

Hopefully they at least get some decent commentators because Fox's commentators have generally been dire.
posted by vuron at 7:35 AM on October 29, 2012


I am indeed worried we won't get Ian Darke, as I love his commentary. The MLS commentators are usually awful and I'm worried that's what we'll get.

And by the way, Stoke should have won that one.

As the President of StokeCityUSA, I know! Stupid Sunderland. Grumble Grumble.
posted by josher71 at 7:42 AM on October 29, 2012


Fox is also killing its Speed branded channel and turning it into a broader sports channel. Meanwhile NBC bought the rights to broadcast Formula 1 for 2013 and promised to show all 19 or 20 races live (4 on broadcast, and the others on its cable channel). Sounds like NBC is making a push for these niche and growing markets.

Sounds like everyone's catching on that:

1) Fan is short for "fanatic";

2) Fanatics and casual watchers alike prefer not to timeshift sporting events, which means;

3) Sports is where it's at if your business model is selling eyeballs to advertisers.
posted by notyou at 7:44 AM on October 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


First the Formula 1, and now the Football? Wow, maybe those folk at NBC really are the euro-lovin' socialists Fox says they are. ;)

I would not be at all surprised to see someone at FOX characterize F1, one of the most exclusive and expensive sports in the world, as a socialist conspiracy run by that Lenin like near communist Bernie Ecclestone. Because they say bullshit like that with a straight face and unfortunately aren't summarily laughed off the air.
posted by juiceCake at 8:09 AM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I really don't trust NBC's coverage of sport as it is, this is just making me sad. While I have no love for Fox, they make it so people without cable can buy access directly. NBC's poor handling of the Olympics is too fresh in my memory to let the off. They better give us, the non-casual football fan, what we want.

Though since they need to get the organization going, maybe NBC will hire me for colour commentary and analysis? I could be the weird American punk woman football anorak who will reference League Cup draws from the 50s, and always ask what Clough would do.
posted by kendrak at 8:23 AM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


For those now needing to pick a team.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:30 AM on October 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


Can't wait for the commercial interruptions during matches. "Thanks for that word from our sponsors. Now let's get you folks at home caught up on the goals just now."
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 8:39 AM on October 29, 2012


I'm shure you will all be dying to watch Stoke vs Sunderland

There was this thing recently, called the World Series, and it was about as boring a series as we could have asked for. So I think we can handle it.
posted by Brocktoon at 8:49 AM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


they make it so people without cable can buy access directly.

How do they do that? And I'm not going to sit and watch soccer on an iPad.
posted by Brocktoon at 8:51 AM on October 29, 2012


Meanwhile NBC bought the rights to broadcast Formula 1 for 2013 and promised to show all 19 or 20 races live (4 on broadcast, and the others on its cable channel). Sounds like NBC is making a push for these niche and growing markets.

Speed also aired every F1 race live, as well as broadcast a re-run of the race later on the same day for viewers who aren't keen on waking-up at 5am to watch a race. The only exceptions were the four races broadcast on FOX, which were tape-delayed and edited to fit the time slot.

For me, those same-day re-broadcasts are key. Without also doing those, NBC may find their F1 acquisition to be a big bust.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:59 AM on October 29, 2012


To complement their NHL broadcasts. That's a good one.

Ha. That line made me lol too.

They bought the games for their sports network - which is currently marooned at around channel 158 on my cable system.

I used to get an NBC Sports Network over-the-air. It was like the third NBC option (-3), and it was AWESOME. It was like ESPN in the '80s: winter sports, rugby, volleyball, international sports. I watched a ton of that rugby tournament in Vegas last year.

Then it disappeared. I always wondered what happened ... ah, it subsumed Versus. God, Versus is the reason I'm not really a hockey fan anymore. Thanks, Comcast/GE/NBC/Kabletown.

For those now needing to pick a team.

That was pretty good, but too kind on Newcastle upon Tyne.

How do they do that? And I'm not going to sit and watch soccer on an iPad.

I'm pretty sure you must be able to plug those things into a larger TV/monitor by now?

There was this thing recently, called the World Series, and it was about as boring a series as we could have asked for.

Unless of course you were a Giants fan. Those games were electric compared with our usual 2-1 snoozers. Also, Ruth, Jackson, Pujols, Panda.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:05 AM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


They bought the games for their sports network - which is currently marooned at around channel 158 on my cable system.

Time Warner generally puts it in the "Expanded Tier", along with channels like VH1, USA, Spike, Fox News, etc.
posted by muddgirl at 9:30 AM on October 29, 2012


For those now needing to pick a team.

Not bad, but Fulham don't have any first-team Americans anymore. We do still, have the freakish Michael Jackson statue. And Dimitar Berbatov. So it should really say: "Do you like freakish statues of Michael Jackson?" "Do you want to watch a Bulgarian bend time?"
posted by ob at 9:37 AM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


SMBC's take on collage hand egg.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:44 AM on October 29, 2012


unfortunately Serie A, La Liga, and Ligue 1 sold all of their rights to Al-Jazeera Sports - a network that is not even available to the terrestrial cable providers.

Say what? I get BeIN on Comcast in the Bay Area; in fact, BeIN made a big deal about the fact that they negotiated a deal with Comcast. Still waiting for it in HD, but since we only got FSC in HD about a year ago I'm not expecting much anytime soon.
posted by asterix at 9:48 AM on October 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


huh. I guess the article I read was wrong. We don't get it on Time Warner.

ETA: I guess when they won the contract they didn't have anyone carrying them. Looks like Comcast starting carrying them on 9/7.

Weirdly they are paying to be carried.
posted by JPD at 10:03 AM on October 29, 2012


The head of NBC Sports said five - six games a week will be carried live, about one every two weeks on regular NBC; these are the six normal broadcast windows with three on Saturday, two on Sunday and one on Monday, as well as the occasional Tuesday/Wednesday games. That's about 200 games a season and the remainder will be streamed live so every game will be available live.

AFAIK, most major cable systems already have NBC Sports (nee Versus) on HD too. With this change coming to Fox Soccer we can probably expect BeIN HD carriage to replace FoxSoccer HD next season.
posted by billsaysthis at 11:16 AM on October 29, 2012


BeIN strenuously denied when they announced the deal with Comcast that they were paying to be carried. Where are you seeing that, JPD?
posted by asterix at 12:15 PM on October 29, 2012


unfortunately Serie A, La Liga, and Ligue 1 sold all of their rights to Al-Jazeera Sports - a network that is not even available to the terrestrial cable providers.

Say what? I get BeIN on Comcast in the Bay Area; in fact, BeIN made a big deal about the fact that they negotiated a deal with Comcast. Still waiting for it in HD, but since we only got FSC in HD about a year ago I'm not expecting much anytime soon.
posted by asterix at 9:48 AM on 10/29
[1 favorite +] [!]


I'm in the Bay Area too. I didn't realize Comcast had this channel -- do you mean 651 in Spanish? Or is it in English somewhere else?
posted by JenMarie at 12:16 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Unless of course you were a Giants fan.

They don't count. When Mourinho helmed Chelsea, they played some seriously boring soccer, and I'm sure their fans loved it.
posted by Brocktoon at 12:31 PM on October 29, 2012


JenMarie: Yeah, it's channel 651. The studio shows are all in Spanish (broadcast from Miami), but the actual games have both English and Spanish audio feeds, including the former GolTV crew of Phil Schoen and Ray! Hudson!
posted by asterix at 2:00 PM on October 29, 2012


I'm ambivalent about this. Although it would be good to see more appreciation for the sport among my fellow citizens, the more money that's pumped into international soccer, the more corrupt it becomes. If it becomes a major US sport, it will probably double the amount of money floating around the game. Heaven help us all.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:53 PM on October 29, 2012


Thanks, asterix! I've been mourning the loss of serie A and la liga, but the last news I read was that Comcast wasn't airing them anymore and I've been so busy with my newborn I didn't look into it further. Also, I love the goltv commentating duo -- RH is so absurd and his partner is a good contrast.
posted by JenMarie at 3:07 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


If they keep it in the style of Telemundo, it would be alright, but there's no way NBC will let more than five minutes of play air without a set of six commercials. It's the only way they would pay that amount of money for the television rights.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 3:24 PM on October 29, 2012


During the Euros, they ran the games and ads in split screen.
posted by Brocktoon at 3:54 PM on October 29, 2012


During the Euros, they ran the games and ads in split screen.

Euro 2012 was on ESPN/ABC. Can you clarify? (I only recall ads at the half, but I did most of my watchign online.)
posted by hoyland at 5:52 PM on October 29, 2012


During the Euros, they ran the games and ads in split screen.

I don't recall that at all. All the Euro 2012 games I watched had no commercials.

I think you're confusing Euro with Indy and NASCAR racing, where they will show split screen ads.
posted by dw at 8:04 PM on October 29, 2012


And NBC televises MLS now with only in-game pop-up ads.
posted by dw at 8:05 PM on October 29, 2012


To add to the above about terrestrial cable and beIN -- I have beIN's Spanish channel on 726 in Somerville, MA's Comcast lineup. It is HD, but not at a high bit-rate (if I understand these things correctly).

It does seem hard to imagine FSC surviving this change in its current form even with Champions League, and GolTV has to be in serious trouble after losing La Liga.
posted by galaksit at 8:44 PM on October 29, 2012


NBC shot the MLS, and by extension US Soccer, in the foot with this one.

Misplaced metaphor, but you get the idea.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:14 AM on October 30, 2012


Can't wait for the commercial interruptions during matches. "Thanks for that word from our sponsors. Now let's get you folks at home caught up on the goals just now."

I was under the impression that multiple goals during commercials are unlikely in the sport. But since I don't follow it, perhaps I only see the low scoring games reported. Or is it just a case of matches are broadcast without commercials, just as F1 is outside of North America?

I can't imagine NBC having more commercials than Speed has in regard to F1 coverage. Speed's coverage was not coverage of the races, but rather coverage of commercials interrupted, sparsely, by racing footage.
posted by juiceCake at 8:30 AM on October 30, 2012


Or is it just a case of matches are broadcast without commercials, just as F1 is outside of North America?

You put all the commercials during the break at the half. As far as I know, this is the norm on commercial broadcasters worldwide (except apparently during the MLS).

Believe it or not, ITV has managed to start a commercial break by mistake and missed a goal at least twice in the last few years (they set the ads to run automatically and then the match doesn't quite run to schedule).
posted by hoyland at 8:40 AM on October 30, 2012


My cable provider (I'm guessing the fault lies here) can piss up a rope. Before NBCSports was NBCSports, it was Versus and it was available on my tier-above-poor-man's cable. And it showed NHL games when there were NHL games to show (Fuck you, Bettman!). It also had Tour de France coverage and soccer from parts you don't always see soccer from and really lots of things that the sports majors don't show, but that I'd rather watch.

And then NBC bought it. And then scant days after that Cox up and pushed it to a higher tier of service. Prodding me, once again, to consider dropping them and just going with illicit network streaming--using Cox's network even. Because that would show them!

But, instead, I've just continued to take it and dream of the day I get it together enough to switch to DirectTV (if I'm feeling up to my social contract obligations) or going rogue (if I'm feeling all haX0r) or wait for InterLace to show up, hopefully before the Year of the Whopper.

But, yeah, I'd totally love to have live coverage of EPL available at times other than ESPN(X) filling some hours before the morning Football Game Day BlahFest or Fox Soccer Channel which, being a Fox property, gets no love. (kind of hoping I saved Topicality there at the end...eagerly anticipating 1NC).
posted by Fezboy! at 9:50 AM on October 30, 2012


Believe it or not, ITV has managed to start a commercial break by mistake and missed a goal at least twice in the last few years (they set the ads to run automatically and then the match doesn't quite run to schedule).

I can believe it. At least twice in the last few years seems like a rather low instance of this sort of aberration. How many games in total? How many goals in total scored and how many of those were seen/missed?
posted by juiceCake at 1:47 PM on October 30, 2012


The thing with these cable only channels that you have to pay for is they seem to have more commercials than free to air channels. I understand the original need for cable was to have the ability to get channels one couldn't over FTA, but the whole point of paid cable channels was, I had thought, less commercials because they are being viewer subsidized.

With Speed it was absolutely absurd. As mentioned, it wasn't wondering when they were going to commercials, it was wondering when they were going to show the race. If NBC Sports is worse, well, I can't imagine it.
posted by juiceCake at 1:54 PM on October 30, 2012


I fail to see the argument that NBC has sold out MLS. First, it seems far more likely that NBC will arrange for MLS match times to follow EPL broadcasts (this already happens with ESPN), allowing them to show "doubleheaders". I think NBC is probably banking on Saturday becoming "soccer Saturday", same as Sunday is "football Sunday". Second, NBC has been really pretty good with their MLS coverage. They need better instant replay guys, but the commentary and analysis is actually a lot better than ESPN in my opinion.

Far from shooting MLS in the foot, I think a national network committing to more soccer coverage will be very good for a league whose fans largely come to MLS through watching European and Central/South American leagues anyway.
posted by Errant at 5:37 PM on October 30, 2012


And then NBC bought it.

No, other way around. Versus was owned by Comcast, which bought NBC. They then rebranded Versus as the NBC Sports Network (just as they'll soon rebrand MSNBC as the NBC News Network).

First, it seems far more likely that NBC will arrange for MLS match times to follow EPL broadcasts (this already happens with ESPN), allowing them to show "doubleheaders".

Imagine going from, say, live coverage of a Liverpool-Man U game -- "the biggest derby in English football!" to Seattle-Portland -- "the biggest derby in American soccer!" And while you may notice the raucous crowd and the crazy tifos and the PASSION that is AMERICAN SOCCER initially, you'll then settle in and watch what's clearly a clearly inferior product.

It's like serving someone a two course meal where the first course is prepared by Thomas Keller and the second course is prepared by an Applebee's line cook. You will notice a significant difference. And it will color your perception of things.

Mind you, the MLS has improved dramatically in the last 10 years. I think the top-flight teams in the MLS right now -- Seattle, LA, San Jose, KC, etc. -- could hold their own in the English second division. But the Premier League has also improved just as greatly as footballers finally get the message about diet and weight training. Watching them back to back is downright painful.

Maybe it won't be a big deal -- if people get the soccer bug, they'll want to go see their "inferior" Kansas City Wizards and not care, just as there are people who will go see minor-league baseball because it's baseball. But I wouldn't want to serve a course after Thomas Keller. The best I could hope for is "it's good... for what it is."
posted by dw at 11:51 PM on October 30, 2012


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