The 2014-15 Barclays Premier League season is in the books, and NBC’s second year of coverage resulted in even more viewership records for the network.
This year, NBC and NBCSN averaged 479,000 viewers per match and viewers streamed a whopping 317 million minutes of live games on Live Extra. Compared to the 2013-14 season, the debut season on NBC’s family of networks, viewership was up 9% while Live Extra was up 22% in total minutes streamed. Compared to the 2012-13 season, the final season to air jointly on ESPN and Fox, viewership was up a staggering 118%.
Also, three of the four most-watched BPL matches in America aired this season on NBC, including Manchester United-Arsenal on November 22nd, which took the top spot on the rankings. NBCSN also aired the most-watched BPL match on cable in the US this season – April’s Manchester Derby, which I’m still recovering from.
The 2015-16 season is the final year on NBC’s deal with the Premier League, and retaining the rights should be one of NBC’s priorities this summer. With all due respect to Fox and ESPN, keeping the BPL on NBC is best for fans of the sport – NFL, college basketball, and college football conflicts would likely end up dooming the Premier League on either of their networks. On NBC, half of the matches are typically live on NBC’s networks each match week, while the others are available on Live Extra.
Would ESPN or Fox be willing or able to show that much live Premier League soccer each weekend in the fall? Fans are already curious and apprehensive about how Fox will approach their deal with the German Bundesliga for the 2015-16 season, imagine throwing the Premier League into the mix as well with college football, college basketball, and NFL coverage. On NBC, the conflicts for the Premier League are minimal, and fans are the ones that benefit the most from those lack of conflicts.
The viewership numbers through two seasons are incredibly encouraging, and will hopefully result in NBC retaining the rights for years to come.