If you’re like me, you love NBC Sports’ coverage of the Premier League. The coverage is hands down the best we’ve ever seen when it comes to soccer, and the network hardly ever makes a wrong move. But you want more. Wouldn’t it be great to see more replays shown during the week? Would you tune in every day to watch Premier League news, interview and discussion shows? Could the network get the rights to classic footage and show that? Could we see more episodes of the Premier League Review Show and more?
What if NBC Sports could combine all of that into one Premier League Channel that would only be available in the United States and would be available on a subscription fee? You would get to see every single Premier League game live and on demand, as well as all of the shoulder programming and news you could possibly need or want. How much would you be willing to pay for that? $ 25/month? $ 30/month? Even $ 35/month?
At the same time that soccer fans in the United States are wanting more Premier League coverage, NBC Sports and its parent company Comcast faces a difficult future. Analysts predict that cable TV revenue in the US will drop by $ 2.7 billion in the next 10 years as the move to broadband continues to boom. Plus it’s harder than ever to hit revenue goals when sports TV rights fees are on a rise (including the Premier League, which cost NBC Sports $ 960 million for 6 years).
While NBC Sports already has the security of a 6-year TV rights cycle, it has to juggle the Premier League TV programming with other commitments, which is why Premier League games sometimes get moved to CNBC, USA and other channels because of the Olympics or other sports. And it’s why we haven’t seen a lot of shoulder programming from NBC Sports prior to or after the opening weekend.
When it comes down to it, NBC Sports has to focus its attention on where the money is. And NBC’s current business model focuses on generating revenue from TV advertising as well as cable subscriber fees. Although dated, NBCSN recently was receiving 32 cents out of every cable subscriber’s monthly bill. Compare that to the $ 7.04 that ESPN received. With such a disparity like that, NBC Sports has to be laser focused on keeping costs down and working within set budgets.
But by basing its business model on TV ad revenue and subscriber fees as well as working within tight budgets, NBC Sports is limited to what it can provide the consumer.
That’s why I think the business model should change and NBC Sports should consider launching a Premier League Channel.
For new fans and tire kickers, NBC could still broadcast 1 or 2 Premier League games per weekend on over-the-air television or NBCSN. But if you want to watch all 10 games live and on-demand as well as watch all of the daily Premier League coverage (a lot of it from Premier League Productions where NBC Sports doesn’t have reinvent the wheel or spend a lot of production costs creating new shows), you would need to subscribe to the Premier League Channel.
Given that the TV industry is a mess when it comes to adding new networks to cable networks across the United States, the Premier League Channel would be a digital only channel that’s available online. It would feature an app that works on Roku, Xbox One, PS4, Apple TV, Chromecast, Amazon Fire and other devices. Plus, Sling TV, PS Vue and fuboTV customers would subscribe to the channel through those streaming services too. By being available online, it guarantees that every single person that wants the Premier League Channel can get it no matter where they live and whether they’re a cord cutter or not.
On top of the Premier League Channel, you could subscribe to your favorite club’s channel for an extra $ 5/month so you get more news straight from the club in addition to all of the Premier League news and games.
The economics of a Premier League Channel would depend on how many people would sign up for it in order to make it viable where NBC Sports could generate more revenue via a direct business model instead of focusing its efforts on TV advertising and subscriber fees.
But with more consumers getting rid of their cable and satellite services and moving to watching programming via broadband, it would be wise for NBC Sports to consider being ahead of the curve and being a leader in its industry.
I believe the secret to the Premier League Channel’s success would be in the shoulder programming. Yes, the games are vitally important, but it’s the shoulder programming that would make or break the channel. But most of that type of programming is already available at NBC’s fingertips with Premier League Productions – the vast majority of which Americans have never seen.
So what do you think? If NBC Sports considered launching a Premier League Channel, would you be in? And if so, how much would you be willing to pay each month? Share your opinions in the comments section below.