NBC Is Paying $2.76 Billion For Premier League Rights

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Hey Friends,

The Premier League might soon become America’s next major sports league.

After multiple rounds of negotiation, NBC is set to remain the Premier League’s broadcast home in the United States. The NY Post is reporting that the deal is for $2.76 billion over six years — or about $460 million annually.

That’s a 170% increase over the previous billion-dollar deal that NBC signed in 2015.

NBC Premier League Deal History

  • 2013-2015: $83 million per year ($250M total)

  • 2016-2021: $183 million per year ($1.1B total)

  • 2022-2027: $460 million per year ($2.76B total)

But despite NBC agreeing to pay nearly double what they paid from 2013 to 2015 just next year, NBC Sports chairman Pete Bevacqua said he is comfortable with the deal:

“Certainly, the value and price have gone up that is because the property is incredibly valuable in the U.S. — we had a range that we were comfortable with. We know this will continue to be a success for our company,” Bevacqua said in a conference call.

The agreement with NBC will cover all 380 Premier League matches.

Here’s a wild stat that surprises a lot of people: “In the U.S. alone, more people watch [Mexican soccer league] Liga MX than Major League Soccer and the Premier League combined.”

So, why would NBC commit to paying $2.76 billion over the next six years for an international soccer league that isn’t even the most popular here in the United States?

Well, it’s complicated. With 380 games, the $460 million annual payment breaks down to $1.2 million per game. That’s obviously a lot.

But the Premier League has also shown continuous growth in the United States.

For example, when ESPN had the rights in 2009/10, they averaged about 260,000 viewers across the 30 games on ESPN2 that season. But now, roughly a decade later, NBC is averaging over 600,000 viewers per game this season.

That’s a 130% increase in the average US TV audience for Premier League matches.

Premier League Avg. US Viewership

  • 2009/10 Season: 262,000 (ESPN2)

  • 2021/22 Season: 607,000 (NBC Sports)

That continued increase in viewership created a competitive bidding process for the Premier League rights. Sports Business Journal reported earlier this month that at least nine U.S. media companies submitted initial bids to the Premier League, and six companies were invited back to resubmit bids for the second round.

That group of six included NBC, CBS, ESPN, Amazon, Fox, and WarnerMedia.

NBC ended up winning the rights with a massive $2.76 billion proposal, making one thing abundantly clear in the process — they value the Premier League more than the National Hockey League (NHL).

Why? Because as part of the previous NHL broadcast deal, NBC had the right to negotiate first with the NHL on a new national television package.

Instead, ESPN ended up reportedly paying about $400 million per season for the majority of NHL rights, including four Stanley Cup Finals, half of the playoff rights, 100 regular-season games, and extensive streaming rights for ESPN+ and Hulu.

That’s interesting for a few reasons. First, most sports fans here in the United States consider the NHL to be a component of the “Big 4" major professional sports leagues, alongside the NFL, NBA, and MLB.

But if money is the primary data point for size, and the Premier League is now commanding a similar amount from U.S. media companies as the NHL, doesn’t that now make them a major professional sports league here in the United States also?

I think the answer is probably yes, even if it doesn’t necessarily feel that way.

Regardless, NBC is an interesting partner because they have platforms across broadcast, cable, and streaming. Of course, most US-based Premier League fans would love to access all of the content in one place, but distributing it in a flexible format is what makes the deal so valuable for NBC — ex. building up Peacock while maintaining value for high-paying cable subscribers.

Still, it will be fascinating to watch the world’s most competitive professional soccer league continue to grow in the United States.

I hope everyone has a great day, and we’ll talk tomorrow.

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Huddle Up is a daily letter that breaks down the business and money behind sports.

Join more than 50,000 professional athletes, business executives, and casual sports fans that receive it directly in their inbox each morning — it’s free.