NBC Killed America's EPL Golden Age
If you want access to every live game, you will now need to pay NBC $49.99 per season.
© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
For the past four seasons, America was arguably the single best place on Earth to be a fan of the English Premier League. When NBC won the broadcast rights in 2013, it made a commitment to make every single game available live on TV or streaming to any cable subscriber. This made the U.S. one of the few places in the world where you could watch every single EPL game live with just a regular cable subscription at no additional cost.
This golden age is now over. Jonathan Tannenwald has all the details, but here's the upshot: about 130 games, or something like a third of the season, will not be available live unless you subscribe to NBC's over-the-top sports package—yes, they have one, which up until now mostly aired cycling, rugby, and track and field—for $49.99 per season. If you already subscribe to an over-the-top streaming service like DirecTV Now or SlingTV, you will have to pay to get the 130 games, too. NBC told Tannenwald that it will still show the same number of games on NBC and NBCSN as previous seasons, including the biggest rivalries like the North London Derby and the Manchester Derby, but that's about as specific as they got.
This is basically a $5.50 per month add-on to watch the crappiest third of EPL games. If you have a favorite team you watch religiously, you'll probably pay it (ugh). Otherwise, you probably won't.
Five bucks and change per month might not sound like a big deal, but there's almost no chance NBC stops here. It's an experiment to see if anyone will pay to watch Stoke vs. Watford or whatever. If the answer is "someone," expect it to charge a hell of a lot more for a hell of a lot more games in the future.
In the meantime, we're in an in-between phase of the unbundling process, which means having to subscribe to two different services to watch one league. The future is here, and it kinda sucks.