We don’t jump across the pond to break down TV deals all too often, but the new TV deal for the Barclays Premier League in the UK is simply staggering. For the three seasons from 2016 to 2019, the Premier League will receive 5.13 billion (with a B) pounds, or 1.71 billion pounds per season, from the incumbent rights holders, Sky Sports and BT Sport. In US dollars, that’s an unheard of $7.83 billion over three years, or $2.61 billion per season.
This new rights deal represents an increase of 71% on the prior rights deal from Sky and BT, and an increase of nearly 190% from the 2011-13 deal. Needless to say, the Premier League is rolling in more cash than it ever has before.
What does this mean for the American rights? Well, NBC is currently paying $250 million over three years. A similar 70% increase would pin the US rights deal at $425 million over three years. That’s quite a hefty investment for just a three year commitment, but it’s peanuts compared to American pro sports. The NBA got $24 billion over nine years from ESPN and Turner. The NFL got $28 billion over nine years in December of 2011. MLB “only” got $12.4 billion from ESPN, Fox, and Turner, but teams are cleaning up locally. The NHL got $2 billion over ten years from NBC, and another $5.2 billion over eight years from Rogers in Canada. Getting the Premier League for under $150 million a season would be a bargain for an American rights holder.
NBC is expected to make a strong bid to retain the Premier League, with Fox, ESPN, and possibly a dark horse like beIN looming in the distance. beIN made a run at the Premier League’s UK rights this time around, but fell short of the bids of Sky and BT. What better way for the network to make a huge impact in the States than by acquiring the American rights?
However, despite the wildest dreams of the people at beIN, I think NBC is still the best, and most likely, home for the Premier League in the US following the 2015-16 campaign. Fox will start airing the Bundesliga this fall, and it would be difficult for them to wedge both soccer leagues into their schedules in nearly the same timeslots. Because of ESPN’s obsession with all things American football, the Premier League would be relegated to the backburner in the fall during the first half of its season. NBC has nothing to compete with the Premier League while its games are going on, has received rave reviews for its production and promotion of the league since acquiring the rights, and has a solid infrastructure already in place for viewers to watch all 380 games with NBC Live Extra and Extra Time.
The new US rights deal is expected to be completed in March or April of this year. Whichever outlet ends up winning the rights should expect to not pay in the billions, but should expect to surpass NBC’s current deal by at least 50%.