NEW YORK – NBC moved eight of this weekend’s 10 Premier League matches to its online streaming service Peacock behind a pay wall because it wanted to broadcast golf's U.S. Open and the Tour de France on its television networks.
NBC took over Premier League U.S. broadcasts from Fox starting with the 2013-14 season and on typical weekends in recent seasons had two Saturday matches on NBCSN followed by a late game on NBC, and several Sunday matches on NBCSN.
But there will be just two televised matches this weekend, Arsenal vs. West Ham on NBCSN at 3 p.m. EDT Saturday and Leicester vs. Burnley on NBCSN at 2 p.m. Sunday. Manchester United- vs. Crystal Palace and Chelsea vs. Liverpool were originally announced for television, then were moved to Peacock.
Rick Cordella, Peacock’s executive vice president and chief revenue officer, said a goal was for “people to download, register and use the new service.”
But a change in the distribution of kickoff times also is a factor, and Cordelia said the emphasis on streaming this weekend is an anomaly. The Premier League continues to play in empty grounds because of the novel coronavirus, and all September games are being televised live in Britain. The usual blackout of 3 p.m. matches (10 a.m. EDT) does not apply, and fewer games are being scheduled for the traditional 3 p.m. kickoff time.
The Tour de France fills the 7:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. EDT Saturday slots on NBCSN and the golf overlaps the 12:30 p.m. NBC slot. Sunday’s 7 and 9 a.m. slots on NBCSN are taken by motor racing from San Marino followed by the Tour de France.
NBC averaged 462,000 viewers for English-language televised EPL matches last season, up 1% from 457,000 in 2019-20 and its highest figure since 2015-16. That is by far the highest European domestic league viewership in the U.S., driven partly by NBC’s studio shows and promotion.
Peacock, which launched its live sports coverage in June, is likely to get only a fraction of the audience for its matches.