NBC unveils its English Premier League broadcast plan

Arlo White, left, and Rebecca Lowe listen during Arlo White, left, and Rebecca Lowe listen during a joint NBC and English Premier League press conference in New York. (April 16, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

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NBC revealed its plans Tuesday for covering English Premier League soccer, an array of coverage that prompted the league's chief executive, Richard Scudamore, to say, "If my grin never leaves my face, you will understand why."

The network plans to show all 380 matches live -- with on-site announcers -- in the United States during the 2013-14 season on one of its many channels, notably NBC Sports Network, which will carry 154 games.

Mark Lazarus, the chairman of NBC Sports Group, called it "a groundbreaking deal for us" during a media event held on the "Football Night in America" set at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

The deal, which was secured in October, reportedly cost NBC $250 million over three years.

The season will culminate on May 11, 2014, with 10 games being shown simultaneously on NBC-owned outlets.

NBC also plans extensive other programming built around the games.

Arlo White, a Briton who has called MLS games in Seattle, will serve as the lead play-by-play man, calling more than 75 matches. The lead analysts will be Lee Dixon and Graeme Le Saux.

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NBC executives said they sought a play-by-play voice who grew up with the sport, perhaps a small jab at Fox's decision to train Gus Johnson as its soccer play-by-play man in time for the 2018 World Cup.

White traced his career arc to calling fictional Leicester City games into a recorder at his grandfather's house when he was 6 years old.

"Our goal and No. 1 objective is to be true to the sport," executive producer Sam Flood said.

Still, NBC hopes to convert casual or non-fans of the sport into soccer viewers by exposing more Americans to the game at its highest level.

"We're not going to make this a secret society where you don't feel welcome," Flood said.

Scudamore said the EPL is "not unhappy with our current partners" at Fox. But he said during NBC's presentation of its plans, "I've never seen our 20 clubs more excited than when these guys came."

There will be cultural gaps to bridge, such as NBC pushing for as much access as possible, even though there is less tradition of that in English soccer than in major American sports.

Scudamore promised to be cooperative, but only to a point.

"I can't say there will be cameras in the locker room," he said, referring to a common American practice after games. He said he favors preserving the "mystery" of what goes on behind closed doors.

"It's not all bare-naked exposure, so there are some cultural differences there," he said.

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The channel breakdown provided by NBC has 20 games on its broadcast channel, 154 on NBCSN, 76 on Mun2 / Telemundo, nine on CNBC, seven on NBC Universal and six on USA.

Others will be available through "Premier League Extra Time," which will be offered to distributors at no charge for any customer that gets NBC Sports Network as part of his or her television service.

In a typical week, there will be games at 7 and 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Saturdays, 8 and 11 a.m. Sundays and at 2:30 p.m. for weekday games.

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