This weekend marked the start of English Premier League soccer with fans on both sides of the pond in a football frenzy. In the U.S., NBC Sports Group kicked off its exclusive coverage on Saturday with three live matches: Liverpool v Stoke City and Arsenal v Aston Villa on NBCSN, followed by Swansea City v Manchester United on NBC. The latter face-off gave NBC a .8 overnight rating, the highest ever for a Premier League opening weekend match in the U.S. Combined, the three matches averaged a .5 in the overnights for a 67% increase over last year’s three openers on ESPN and Fox Soccer. On NBC Sports Live Extra, more than 4 million minutes of action was streamed. In the UK, BT has challenged dominant football broadcaster Sky by acquiring rights to 38 live matches. In its broadcast on Saturday of Liverpool v Stoke, BT Sport averaged 447,000 viewers for a 5.1% share and peaked with 764,000 and a 7.7% share. Later in the day on Sky Sports 1, Swansea v Manchester United was seen by a peak of 3.09M viewers for a 17.4% share. Across Sky Sports 1, Sky2 and Pick TV, the game averaged 2.11M for a 12.5% share.
Global Showbiz Briefs: FoxCrime Launches In Africa; News Corp Seals Mobile Deals For Soccer In Asia; More
FoxCrime Channel Infiltrates South Africa
Fox International Channels announced the South African launch of its global crime and investigation entertainment network, FoxCrime. The launch adds 1.6 million subscribers to the brand’s 25 million existing global households. The South African FoxCrime schedule combines FIC original co-productions such as The Bridge with franchise acquisitions including Criminal Minds, CSI and Blue Bloods. The channel also boasts a Classic Crime block that launches with NYPD Blue, Remington Steele, CHiPs and The Streets of San Francisco and includes an African-focused slot entitled Case Files: Africa, covering infamous crime stories from across the Continent.
News Corp Secures Exclusive Mobile, Internet Soccer Rights
News Corp said Monday that it has secured exclusive mobile and Internet clip rights for England’s Barclays Premier League and several additional major leagues in Japan, Vietnam and Indonesia beginning this month. In addition, mobile and Internet rights have been secured in those territories for Bundesliga (Germany), Ligue 1 (France), Serie A (Italy), FA Cup (England), Championship (England), Capital One Cup (England), Brazilian Championship, and Major League Soccer.
‘The Following’ Gets Killer Ratings On Sky Atlantic
Kevin Bacon serial killer drama The Following had a solid debut on Fox in the U.S. on Monday and on Tuesday premiered on UK pay channel Sky Atlantic. In the 10PM-11PM slot, the violent horror thriller drew an average of 270,000 viewers for a 1.4% share. The numbers may not sound earth-shattering but they were more than 636% higher than the slot average over the past three months, The Guardian reported. Meanwhile, the premiere of Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes’ reality show about English manses, Great Houses With Julian Fellowes, drew 2.2M viewers on ITV at 9PM for an 8.8% share on Tuesday.
NBCUniversal‘s NBC Sports Group has acquired exclusive U.S. media rights to English Premier League soccer matches through a multiyear agreement that begins with the 2013-14 season. NBCUniversal becomes the exclusive English- and Spanish-language media rights holder to all 380 Premier League games across all platforms and devices in the United States. NBC was believed to have bid $83 million for the rights, more than three times the amount previous rights-holder Fox Soccer had paid. Each of the 20 Premier League teams plays 38 matches over a 41-week period from August to May. NBC, NBC Sports Network and NBCSports.com will all be utilized to present live Premier League coverage, as well as Telemundo and mun2 for Spanish-language coverage. NBC Sports Live Extra will provide live streaming across web, tablet and mobile devices. Specific coverage plans will be announced later.
NBC Universal is the surprise front-runner in bidding for U.S. rights to English Premier League soccer, Sports Business Daily reports. A three-year deal starting with the 2013-14 season is expected to be announced next week. NBC is wrapping up negotiations in bidding that started only last week. NBC would pay about $83 million a year, more than triple what Fox Soccer currently pays. Fox and ESPN have been informed that their joint bid was not accepted. Fox has been licensing about 80 games per season to ESPN under the previous arrangement.