It doesn’t appear that the Premier League’s next US rightsholder will be revealed this week. Instead, per The Times (UK), the rights bidding is going to a second round, and the winner (or winners) is expected to be announced next week.
Furthermore, The Times reports that the Premier League will likely exceed its target of $1.5 billion in rights fees over a six-year deal, and that CBS, ESPN, and NBC are all contenders. ESPN and NBC confirmed this week that they had made bids for the rights to the top flight English league.
The Premier League had been on course for a 50 per cent rise in the value of the rights to $1.5 billion (£1.1 billion) for a six-year deal but that now looks as though it may be surpassed.
The first round of bidding ended on Monday and the Premier League has now opened bidding for a second round with an announcement expected next week.
NBC Sports holds the rights until next year — it paid $1 billion for 2016-22 — and is the favourite to secure at least some of the rights but is facing competition from ESPN and CBS. The Premier League has split the rights into four packages instead of one so they may be shared between more than one broadcaster, as is the case domestically with Sky, BT Sport and Amazon Prime.
Back in September, Bloomberg reported that the Premier League was looking for $300 million per season from American broadcasters. For context, NBC’s first three-year deal with the Premier League paid a total of $250 million for the 2013-14 through 2015-16 seasons. Its second deal, running from 2016-17 through the current 2021-22 season, cost $1 billion for six seasons.
While the possibility of a split package has been raised, I do think the three most-discussed bidders (CBS, ESPN, NBC) would prefer exclusivity, even though splitting the package up might make sense when objectively looked at. Given their loss of the NHL, I think incumbent NBC is the front runner, even with the shutdown of NBCSN. Losing their second major rights deal in less than a year would be a huge blow for the company, and it would also be a significant mark against Peacock’s continued growth.
We’ll see what happens next week. Whichever companies don’t win the Premier League’s rights will surely be crushed by missing out.