For American Premier League fans, the television-viewing experience just got a whole lot more inconvenient and expensive. NBC, the sole broadcast partner of the Premier League in the United States through the 2021-22 season, announced on Tuesday that they will be be launching a brand-new service called Premier League Pass.
Premier League Pass will cost $50 per season and will provide coverage of 130 matches in England’s top flight. These will be the games that are not shown on NBCUniversal’s traditional television channels (NBC, NBC Sports, USA, CNBC, MSNBC, etc.). If fans want to have access to all 380 matches in a season, they will still need to maintain a subscription to a cable service.
The catch will all of this is that NBC is also killing Extra Time, their current service where all non-televised games were shown, as you know it. So, even if you have a cable subscription that includes NBC and its affiliates, you will also need to cough up the extra $50 to see every Premier League game.
Perks included in this “over the top” service are shows like The Men in Blazers, Behind the Badge, and Premier League Download. It will also provide replays of matches, highlights and pre- and post-match coverage. All of this used to be a “free” service for cable subscribers. Now it will cost ya.
Awful Annoucing does a nice job of covering everything about this “new” service from NBC. But the long and the short of it is this: It sucks for the viewer. It is more expensive without providing any discernible benefit from years past. There is no true cord cutter option, but you aren’t safe to stick strictly with cable either.
At least three matches per club will be exclusively available on Premier League Pass. If you are a fan of the bigger teams, like Manchester United, Chelsea or Arsenal, odds are that most of your games will be on TV. Small teams, like Brighton, Huddersfield and Burnley will likely be streamed a lot. Teams in the middle, like Everton, Southampton and West Ham, will surely bounce back and forth regularly, forcing their fans into a pricey decision.
NBC does promise to broadcast the “big” matches, such as the Merseyside Derby on television. Is that a positive? Not really. It would probably be best to make those games available on both the streaming service and on TV. You know, like the network has done since purchasing the Premier League rights a few seasons ago.
The decision to launch Premier League Pass and in the way it is being done is an odd in-between move that wouldn’t seem to please any customers. NBC clearly understands that the future is moving away from traditional set-top boxes and to online streaming, but they aren’t ready to lose those old school users just yet. For now, however, they have viewers in a tough spot: buy Premier League Pass, or miss a huge chunk of your team’s games.