A fierce bidding contest for the US media rights to the English Premier League is anticipated, with Comcast’s contract due to expire at the conclusion of the 2021-22 season, according to Bloomberg.
The US media outlet reports that although the English top-flight is pleased with the positive North American coverage it has received via Comcast’s NBC Sports network, it is considering probing the market further to increase the value of its broadcasts.
Comcast has held the media rights to the Premier League at a cost of $150 million per season since 2013, a move which significantly bolstered its portfolio of major international sporting events, such as the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the PGA Tour, NASCAR, the National Hockey League (NHL) and the National Basketball Association (NBA).
However, Bloomberg’s sources predict that a renewal of the broadcaster’s Premier League agreement will cost it over $300 million a year, with the total value reaching a minimum of $2 billion. The source added that a discussion of US media rights will be on the table at a meeting of Premier League clubs next week.
Coverage of England’s first division has been a key driver of growth for Comcast’s new Peacock streaming service, although NBC Sports’ coverage of the event did experience a 10% decline earlier this year.
Comcast has plans to shut down the NBC Sport network by the end of this year, with all sports broadcasting – including that of the Premier League – being transferred to Peacock and the USA Network.
The Premier League declined to comment, but an NBC Sports statement read: “We certainly want to continue our great relationship with the Premier League. Now in our ninth season, we have worked together to drive major growth for the sport in the US with innovative production and unmatched promotion.”
A number of prominent US-facing broadcasters and entertainment companies could express interest in acquiring coverage of the Premier League, with Bloomberg identifying ESPN, WarnerMedia, ViacomCBS and Amazon – the latter already holding the rights to the league in some European countries – as potential contenders.