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Comcast Prepares for New Rights Deal With English Premier League - But Will They Win the Bidding War?

Jeff Kotuby

After shelling out for the NFL and the Olympics, Comcast is preparing for its next big purchase: the English Premier League. But will it be able to keep the rights from competitors like Amazon, ViacomCBS, and ESPN? If they want to continue this deal, they’ll likely have to pony up.

Today, Bloomberg reported that Comcast is “facing a $2 billion battle” for the English Premier League rights that expire at the end of the 2021-22 season. The league’s clubs will meet to discuss the incoming US rights deal and are reportedly seek bids instead of pre-emptively renewing the deal with NBC. “Though the EPL is pleased with the coverage by Comcast’s NBC, which has been praised by soccer fans,” the report said, “the league sees an opportunity to double or triple the value of the rights deal by testing the market.”

Comcast paid $150 million per year during their previous deal and the number will likely double this time around. That means, if Comcast were to purchase the rights for the same term as this deal, the deal would total at least $2 billion. “We certainly want to continue our great relationship with the Premier League,” NBC Sports said in a statement. “Now in our ninth season, we have worked together to drive major growth for the sport in the U.S with innovative production and unmatched promotion.”

ESPN paid $175 million per year for the next eight years for rights to La Liga before former Barcelona star Lionel Messi left for Paris Saint-Germain — so imagine how much a Premier League with Cristiano Ronaldo will cost.

One company that may be willing to pay that cost is ViacomCBS, which has been slowly but surely amassing a massive soccer library to air on Paramount+. Currently, ViacomCBS owns the rights to the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, Europa Conference League, NWSL, Concacaf, the Scottish Professional Football League, Brazil’s Campeonato Brasileiro Série A, Argentina’s Liga Profesional de Futbol, Italy’s Serie A, the Asian Football Confederation, and the Women’s Cup.

ViacomCBS is also in the running to bid on the broadcast rights for the US men’s and women’s national teams. Adding the EPL would make Paramount+ the undisputed destination for soccer fans in the US. Bloomberg reports that ESPN, WarnerMedia, and Amazon are also expected to bid on the rights. Amazon owns broadcasting rights to the Premier League in the UK, which could give it a leg up.

While the league and certainly Comcast would love to continue this relationship, soccer fans would likely enjoy a move away from Comcast’s Peacock service. Soccer fans have routinely bemoaned Peacock as a digital distribution platform for soccer matches since it launched last year. Could they get their wish — and will it be a case of “be careful what you wish for?”

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