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NBCU nets 6-season US rights renewal with Premier League

NBCUniversal LLC has put the Premier League back in its U.S. rights net for another six seasons.

The Premier League selected its long-running partner from a host of other bidders — reportedly including ESPN Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Warner Media LLC, ViacomCBS Inc. and Fox Corp. — to carry all of its 380 matches each season, from the 2022-23 through the 2027-28 campaigns. The pact also covers Spanish-language rights.

Scored after a second-round of bidding, the deal will extend NBCU's coverage of the U.K.'s top-flight soccer circuit to 15 seasons. Financial terms were not disclosed. Under the six-year pact expiring next May, NBCU has been paying a collective $1 billion. Reports indicate NBCU's outlay may have reached $2.7 billion this time around.

Plans call for the Premier League to air on broadcast network NBC (US), cable channel USA (US), steaming service Peacock and Spanish-language offerings Telemundo (US) and UNIVERSO (US), among other platforms. NBCSN (US), which had been the soccer circuit's primary English-language outlet, is shuttering at year-end.

NBC Sports said it is averaging a total audience delivery of 609,000 viewers across its English- and Spanish-language Premier League TV match windows this season — its best mark through this point of the season since 2015-16 and up 14% from last year.

Matches have also been appearing on streaming service Peacock, and Comcast executives hope the soccer matches will further drive sign-ups. Executives at ViacomCBS have noted that the company's soccer portfolio, headed by UEFA Champions and Europa Leagues, have been a strong subscriber acquisition driver for its streaming service, Paramount+, with soccer ranking only behind the NFL on the sports front in that regard.

Last May, BT, BBC, Amazon and Comcast Corp.'s Sky scored Premier League pacts in the U.K. for a reported combined outlay of some $7 billion for the 2022-23 through the 2024-25 seasons.

The Premier League renewal represents a win for NBCU, which recently lost NHL rights to ESPN and Turner Sports.

In announcing the renewal, Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters called NBCU a brilliant partner over the last nine seasons. "NBC Sports has significantly strengthened the popularity of the League in the United States in that time through its fantastic coverage and promotion," he said in a release.