If you’re living in the U.S. you’ve probably seen the ubiquitous promotion by the NBC network for the English Premier League (EPL). The commercials featuring comedian Jason Sudeikis as American Football Coach Ted Lasso taking over Tottenham Hotspurs are hilarious. If you’ve just seen the short 30 second spot it’s worth checking out the long version: Link
While it may seem only natural to a European that the world’s most popular sport is readily available for television viewer consumption in the U.S. if you’ve lived here for a while you know just how far soccer has come in the U.S. 30 years ago there was virtually no soccer on TV. 21 years ago it was a big deal when a few World Cup matches were shown live on TV. Around 10 years ago specialty cable channels like the Fox Soccer Channel and Gol TV became available for the die-hard fan willing to pay a little extra. And now today we have a major over the air network (NBC) aggressively promoting the sport in an attempt to bring in new fans.
NBC paid $250 Million for the EPL rights for the next 3 years. That’s right an American network willing to pay very good money for a foreign professional club league with very few American players. This contract surprised a lot of industry observers and clearly signals that the sport has arrived in this country. Team Handball has made some inroads with beIN Sport’s broadcast of the EHF Champions League last season being a good sign hopefully of things to come. Perhaps it’s only a matter of time before we see Coach Lasso taking the reins at SG Flensburg.