Bloomberg Businessweek reports that NBC’s expensive bet on the English Premier League had a strong start, with the first three live games telecast on NBC and NBC Sports averaging a 0.5 rating, according to preliminary estimates, which is 0.2 points higher than ESPN and Fox Soccer’s opening weekend last year. The Swansea-Manchester United game, which was broadcast on NBC, drew almost 800,000 households.
“In this business, we tend to be hopeful publicly but privately pessimistic,” says Jon Miller, president of programming at NBC and NBC Sports. “With this we were very pessimistic internally, but it exceeded anything we could have dreamed of.” He added: “We think this sport is very much on the rise. And we think we can catch it at the right time and make it really jump.”
Last October, NBC outbid Fox, ESPN and others to provide U.S. coverage of the English Premier League, paying $250 million for three years. According to the AP, this is nearly triple what Fox had paid for U.S. broadcast rights in the past.