NBC Sports is launching a new tier for its Premier League streaming package, MatchDay Pass, that brings a significant change to content availability for viewers.
The new MatchDay Pass is a skinny version of the Gold Premier League Pass that still makes 140 games a season available, but doesn’t include full-match replay, the ability to pause or rewind games and – here’s the kicker for big fans – makes no shoulder content available.
The new Premier League streaming package cost $39.95 for the season, $10 less than last year’s Gold package.
The Gold Premier League Pass remains the top tier, but jumps to $64.99 a season, although current subscribers can get a deal for $59.95 if they choose to auto renew their subscription in August.
Will fans accept the 30% increase for the top Premier League streaming package? Or, will they choose to pinch pennies and go with the skinny MatchDay package? Both tiers remain available on mobile devices, computers and connected TV devices.
Premier League streaming package changes
NBC Sports is hoping additional content in the top tier package will make the $64.99 ticket a little more palatable.
Gold subscribers, for example, in addition to the 140 live games included with MatchDay:
- Can also stream replays of all 380 matches on-demand after 9 p.m. on match day, a first for US consumers;
- Have access to shoulder content, like weekly reviews, previews, the Premier League World and more, including a slate of scheduled programming from Sky Sports; and,
- Get access to classic matches and features including PL Legends and Gary Neville’s Soccerbox.
Sports rights are a top-tier buy
Sports rights are expensive, and rights for platinum properties like the Premier League are priced accordingly. In 2015, NBC Sports paid roughly $1 billion for rights through the 2021-22 season, a big step up from its $250 million investment for a three-year deal in 2013.
The new deal brought it 2,280 games (and all the content that went with them) over the six-year deal. The network has leveraged that content, along with library content, extensively.
Before the paling of pay-TV, EPL games were available on cable, telco and satellite operator’s premium tiers via the NBC Sports Network premium channel. But just as consumers have turned toward streaming subscriptions and away from bloated pay-TV bills, NBC Sports has done the same, offering up a streaming model in 2017, without requiring a pay-TV subscription. And that, of course, has opened up a huge, younger, market for the games in the US.
EPL broadcasts on NBC last year saw viewing average 457,000 per match during the regular season, up 2% over the 2017-18 season. It saw a record 2.2 million viewers for the EPL finale May 12.
As Mark Lazarus, chairman of the NBC Sports Group, said when the network closed the deal on the latest rights deal: “We have always believed this sport; this particular league, the finest in the world, had a growth trajectory. We think that there’s still plenty of headroom for this property to grow from an audience point of view, both on television and digital.”
The bottom line
While fans may balk at the new price for a Premier League streaming package, even the top tier is a deal among sports offerings.
NFL rights dwarf those of the EPL.
ESPN alone, for example, pays about $1.9 billion a year for games. And, NFL viewership averages 15.8 million per regular-season game. The Redskins-Cowboys game on Thanksgiving Day drew a whopping 30.5 million viewers. And, digital streaming numbers were up 86% year-over-year.
Now, the NFL Sunday Ticket streaming pass costs about $300 for the season. If you’re a Giants fan, that’s something to scream about. Sixty-five dollars for an EPL season? Such a deal.