ESPN, NBC Sports, CBC Sports battle for Premier League TV rights

Premier League clubs are set for another significant windfall with the three biggest TV networks in the United States are battling for TV rights to broadcast games for the 2022/2023 football season.

ESPN joined CBC Sports and the existing broadcaster NBC Sports in submitting their interest for next season. The proposals were outlined to clubs at a shareholders’ meeting on Thursday by chief executive Richard Masters. The second round of bidding has been opened on Monday.

NBC Sports paid £1billion for the 2016-22 cycle with early indications that the current deal is going to rise by more than 50%.

Speaking at an SPJ Media Innovators conference in New York, ESPN president of programming and original content, Magnus Burke said: “Soccer has been a tentpole for ESPN+ from the very first day. That and UFC have been the two categories that we have ‘sunk our teeth into’ from the beginning.

“The Premier League TV rights haven’t been available until now. So, we ran our process. We did it with discipline. We’ll see what happens. We’ve had good conversations. We hope we understand what they were looking for as part of the process. And I’m excited to see where it goes.”

Premier League TV rights

Before ESPN bid, NBC Sports on the Premier League coverage had been seen as something that would tip the balance in their favour, although the splitting of packages by the Premier League means that multiple broadcasters could come on board, as is the case in the UK with Sky Sports, BT Sport, and Amazon Prime Video.

NBC Sports Group chairman Pete Bevacqua said: “I think this will move quickly, something that will probably take one to two weeks.

“We know it’s going to be incredibly competitive. It always is when you’re dealing with a great property. So, we’re taking absolutely nothing for granted. We’ll see where it ends up.

“When you do go through this bidding process, you do feel a little helpless. You don’t know where it’s going to go – you try to do everything right, and you hope your performance for nine years certainly speaks for itself and helps.”

Back in 1992, when the Premier League was formed, the annual TV revenues received equated to £304m over five years as Sky TV changed the face of football forever.

Fast forward to 2021 and that £304m has ballooned into a deal for both domestic and international rights of £10bn, with the closing bids for overseas rights in the US and Australia set to see it surge past the £9bn that was negotiated during the last three-year cycle.

For the first time, the overseas rights are set to be more valuable than the domestic ones, underlining the global power of the Premier League and consolidating its position as the world’s biggest league.

The new deal will see total overseas broadcast earning climb to £4bn for the 2022-25 cycle and, according to The Times, a £1.1bn agreement would see each club bank about £9m per season.

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