English soccer’s top-flight Premier League is reportedly considering splitting its rights package in the US for the first time with interest from several major broadcasters in the country.
National network NBC presently holds the rights, but its six-year deal is due to expire at the end of this season and rivals ESPN, CBS and Fox are all expected to make bids to acquire the property, according to Sports Business Journal.
With that in mind, the Premier League is exploring the possibility of splitting its package in the US between two broadcasters for its next six-year cycle.
Interested parties must submit bids by 8 November.
Premier League rights have been held by NBC on an exclusive basis for the past eight years.
Before NBC snapped up the rights for the first time from 2013, Premier League action was shown in the US by a combination of Fox and ESPN.
A split package, which the league does domestically with Sky, BT and Amazon, could bring in more revenue from what is a key market for the competition.
According to The Athletic, the English top-tier will offer up four packages in the territory.
The first will be all 380 matches, to be split between the bidder’s various platforms. The second would include all 380 games but shared on a co-exclusive basis between two partners.
The third and fourth are single, exclusive packages of 190 games each.
Last month, Bloomberg reported that Comcast, the US media giant which owns NBC, would have to agree to a substantially increased rate to renew its Premier League deal.
The league’s 20 clubs met last month to discuss the US media rights situation, and are understood to be looking to attract bids through an open tender instead of renewing with NBC and Comcast pre-emptively.
Comcast is understood to be focused on working to extend its rights deal with the Premier League and believes a bid of $300 million per season – exactly double the $150 million it currently pays – will be necessary, with the league seeing an opportunity to dramatically increase its media rights income from the US.
If it did double its annual fee from the previous cycle, it would in total be paying out almost $2 billion over the six years.
The Premier League is reported to be eyeing a fee substantially higher than the $175 million-per-year which ESPN is paying for US rights to Spain’s top-tier LaLiga, a competition which is seen as less of a draw for viewers than its English counterpart.
The US is one of the Premier League’s most significant international markets, with clubs regularly playing pre-season games Stateside to increase their popularity and audience share.
Meanwhile, 10 ViacomCBS, the Australian arm of the US media giant, has secured domestic broadcast rights to England’s FA Cup, the prestigious knockout cup competition, for this season.
The agreement with the Football Association will see the competition broadcast live across ViacomCBS’ Network Ten channel and Paramount+ streaming platform in Australia.
ESPN, the major international sports broadcaster, has shown the FA Cup in Australia for the past two seasons.
FA Cup rights in Australia are held by IMG, the international sports marketing agency, which has a distribution deal with the FA covering all markets except western Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, where the Pitch International agency sells the rights.
IMG has a six-year deal with the FA running until the end of the 2023-24 season worth $730 million.
The FA Cup officially kicks off with the first round proper on 6 November and will continue through to the final at the national Wembley Stadium in May 2022.
James Ralley, the FA Cup’s head of broadcast and media rights, said: “The Emirates FA Cup is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year and our agreement with 10 ViacomCBS is a great example of the competition’s continued importance around the world.”
ViacomCBS is seeking to develop a strong portfolio of soccer rights in Australia and recently agreed a five-year rights deal for the domestic top-tier men’s A-League and women’s W-League.