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NBC is moving some Premier League matches behind a paywall

If you’re not in the US, this doesn’t really affect you.

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Here in the US, we’ve been spoiled for choice ever since NBC bought the rights to televise the Premier League here. We got every single PL game on our cable - far more than England, which if you’ll recall is the home of the Premier League, ever got or currently gets. It was an amazing deal and it really opened up soccer fandom to a whole new generation of people who no longer had to scour the internets for feeds or anything like that.

That deal just got a little less amazing today.

NBC announced this morning that up to 130 matches every season will be shunted from NBC’s cable channels to “NBC Sports Gold”, an app that currently provides coverage of, and I mean no offense by this term, lesser sports (in a viewership number sense) such as cycling and lacrosse. NBC’s spin on this is that the Sports Gold app is available to “cord-cutters and cord-nevers”, and gives them a way to see matches that they wouldn’t have previously had access to.

The service, called Premier League Pass, will cost $49.95 a year, which isn’t really all that bad - that’s basically four bucks a month, which if you don’t have cable, is a great way to see a bunch of Premier League games without hunting for illegal streams. And even if, like me, you’re a dinosaur and you still have cable, it’s not a huge additional outlay to be able to watch every game.

NBC says that every team will appear on League Pass “a minimum of three times a season”, but that big games will still be on their TV services:

“We are still going to have all the big matchups like the Manchester derby, Arsenal vs. Chelsea, Liverpool vs. Man United … all those big matchups still stay on NBC and NBCSN,” Miller said.

What is unclear is if those “big matchups” will only be available on TV, or whether they’ll be available on the League Pass service, either live or as replays; if I had to guess, I would assume they’ll be available as replays only. You’ll have to decide for yourself whether the opportunity to watch Brighton v. Swansea or Watford v. West Brom is worth the $50 you’ll pay to not have to miss/otherwise acquire any Arsenal games that will be on the service.

UPDATE 9.15 PM PT: Looks like Premier League Extra Time is going away as a result of this, so this is a net loss for cable-only subscribers.

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