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Pierce: Now it's easier to watch Premier League than NFL

Published August 13, 2013 12:11 pm

Sports on TV • U.S. fans will have more access to top-flight soccer than their British counterparts.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

English Premier League soccer moves to NBC this weekend, and it's going to be nirvana for fans of British football.

"I'm as excited as everyone else is for the incredible prospect of having all the Premier games available to everyone," said Everton/U.S. men's national team goalkeeper Tim Howard. "It's unprecedented, and it's an amazing prospect."

Here in Utah, you will find it much easier — and much cheaper — to watch your favorite EPL team than your favorite NFL team.

That is not hyperbole.

At my house, we're big Steelers fans. Pittsburgh is 1,666 miles away, and we are guaranteed to see the Steelers play four times this season. Maybe three times — the Dec. 15 game could end up flexing off NBC's "Sunday Night Football" schedule.

We'll probably get some regional games, but it's doubtful we'll have access to more than half the regular season. Unless, of course, I want to shell out a minimum of $225 for the cheapest of the NFL Sunday Ticket packages, which is only available on DirecTV.

We're also big fans of Arsenal FC. London is 4,876 miles away, and we will be able to watch all 38 of the Gunners' EPL matches this season. And for no added cost beyond what we're already paying for our cable/satellite subscription.

I'm not equating NFL and EPL in the hearts of most Americans. But what NBC is offering is amazing.

"This is an Olympic-style rights deal," said NBC Sports chairman Mark Lazarus. "We were able to acquire all of the rights, like with the Olympics, which allows us to use the content in the way that we think is best for our businesses and our fans.

"The National Football League has multiple partners, which makes it harder for you as a Steelers fan, without buying an enhanced package, to see your team."

Americans will have better access to EPL than Brits. Again, this is not hyperbole.

NBC will telecast at least six games each week on NBC, NBC Sports Network, Telemundo, Mun2, the Premier League Extra Time package of overflow TV channels, the NBC Sports Live Extra website and app, CNBC and USA.

Basically, it will be like NBC's coverage of the Olympics. You can watch games live online if you subscribe to a cable or satellite system and NBC's channels are part of your programming package. This includes Comcast, DirecTV and Dish. And there's no additional cost.

(You need to register with your cable/satellite provider. For more info, go to stream.nbcsports.com/liveextra.)

"You will have access to every game, every week," Lazarus said.

NBC Sports is also promising pre- and postgame shows for every game, along with all sorts of additional programming and features.

Clearly, NBC is betting big on the Premier League — $250 million for three years worth of rights, and tens of millions more in production costs.

That's a fraction of the nine-year, $28 billion deal the NFL signed with multiple networks, but NBC is hoping to use the EPL to grow its little-watched NBCSN.

"It's arguably the best soccer in the world," Lazarus said. "We think there's a great trajectory, specifically with the younger audience, which we all covet. And we know if we can bring younger fans to our sport, we'll have them for a lifetime."

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter: @ScottDPierce. —