Before the start of the 2018 Premier League season, NBC Sports announced a big, and unwelcome, change to its coverage. Since NBC took over the U.S. broadcasting rights for the Premier League, all games had been available to subscribers, whether on one of the network’s many TV channels or through its streaming service. But with the introduction of NBC Sports Gold, the network expected diehard fans to pay for all the extra games they use to get for free. But, for the past two weekend’s round of games, the service has been broken or barely working.
Last weekend, NBC Sports Gold website couldn’t keep up with the demand as fans across the United States tried to watch Liverpool v Burnley and Newcastle v. Stoke City. There were complaints about the login page not working and there was no way to sign up for the service if someone wanted to. I tried for over an hour and got nowhere. This weekend, users had similar issues and the only NBC Sports Personality to step say anything seems to be Premier League studio analyst Kyle Martino, who pushed along a tweet with a link to in-studio coverage for the Manchester United v. Southampton game.
We love you, we hear you & they’re working on it. For time being 👇🏻
Becks, Robbies & me. https://t.co/jlSZ0t8Ym3
— Kyle Martino (@kylemartino) September 23, 2017
NBC Sports PR twitter page seemed to go quiet despite the numerous complaints from aggravated fans. On Saturday I reached out to NBC Sports to get a comment. This morning, this is the short statement they rent back in response to my questions.
“We had a service interruption due to a technical problem. We are working to resolve the issue and are in the process of connecting with those subscribers who were impacted.”
NBC took over the Premier League’s coverage in 2013 and it’s all-around coverage was an instant success. For years, Premier League fans struggled with tape delayed games, a lack of availability, and deep-Internet searches to find illegal streams. Fans had to rely on illegal streams to follow their teams overseas. NBC changed that by allowing fans to get every game they wanted with their cable subscription and by dedicating time and effort to good pre and post-game shows.
The success showed other networks soccer’s potential and forced NBC’s hand when it came to re-upping it broadcasting deal and NBC had to pay about $1 billion to keep the rights through the 2021-22 season. And with that price tag, NBC needed a way to pay for it. So, the network introduced Gold and a subscriber package. But with these issues, it’s going to be hard for NBC to reconnect with the tech savvy American soccer public.