This is new big news on this side of the pond as NBC continues to build the excitement towards the opening weekend of the 2013/14 Barclays Premier League season. And not just by making all the right moves as far as announcers are concerned, but by running frequent ad campaigns across all their networks and websites for the last couple months. Check out this TV promo for example; or this one - both quite effective in getting that lovely shiver down your spine.
Having wrested the exclusive rights to the Premier League away from FOX with a massive bid, NBC has promised massive amounts of dedicated and national coverage. With the season just three weeks away, they released specific programming schedules for the first time, covering the first three months - i.e. the first 13 matches - of the season.
Thirteen matches in a league of 20 mean 130 matches to cover between August 17 and December 1st. All of them will be live on NBC Sports Live Extra of course, which is their online streaming platform. I believe that they're sticking with with a TV subscription-based method of authentication for this, so you won't be able to stream without also being a TV subscriber. But it's a small price to pay for live coverage of all matches.
About half of the 130 has been picked for national TV coverage, 10 on the flagship over-the-air NBC, 57 on NBCSN, and 2 on CNBC. Both of the latter two are widely available on basic, low tier packages of cable and satellite providers, which is huge step up from the far less accessible FOX Soccer or beIN Sports (or, heaven forbid, GolTV) of years past.
The news gets even better for Chelsea fans, as NBC has picked all but TWO of our first 13 matches for live TV coverage. The two missing are the visits of Cardiff City (Oct.19) and West Brom (Nov.9) to the Bridge. This compares quite favorably to all the other big names in the league: Manchester United & Liverpool have had FOUR, while Manchester City, Arsenal, and Spurs have all had FIVE matches not picked live TV broadcast. [Full schedule.]
To be fair, while all 10 national NBC slots have been assigned, about 14 NBCSN time-slots remain open for now - to be assigned in the "coming weeks" - presumably so that NBC can ensure that the juiciest match-ups are on TV every week. Still, thank you, NBC.
Liverpool vs. Stoke City will officially kick off the "Football on TV in America" revolution on Saturday, August 17 at 7:45 A.M. EDT on NBC Sports Network. Chelsea's first appearance will come a day later on the same channel when a live and in High-Definition Jose Mourinho makes his second league debut, at home to Hull City (11:00 A.M. EDT). Chelsea's national NBC debut will come on September 14 when the Blues travel to Everton.