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Commentary: NBC Sports Network big upgrade over Fox Soccer

Last week was the start of something new for American fans of the English Premier League; it was also the start of something great. For years now, Fox Soccer Channel has dictated how we watched a sport loved across the world, but after the debut of NBC Sports Group coverage of the EPL on Aug. 17, I believe we can now breathe a sigh of relief.

Back in October 2012, NBC Sports Network bought the rights to show EPL matches when it outbid Fox and ESPN, although Fox will still carry the UEFA Champions League and ESPN, the Fifa World Cup, who had been airing the matches together for nearly two decades, with a bid of roughly $250 million. I never had anything against the way Fox broadcasted the matches at the time, but after experiencing NBCSN, I can tell you without a doubt in my mind that I don’t want it to go back to the way it was.

When Fox Soccer aired the matches, you were required to have a Fox Soccer 2 Go subscription if you wanted to watch any matches that were not aired live on TV. This subscription could be purchased in two separate ways. A monthly subscription would have cost you $19.99 per month, or you could opt to pay for the subscription annually, paying $169.99, saving you roughly $70 a year. With this subscription, you gained access to watch thousands of matches from the EPL to the Champions League on your computer and mobile devices, but it cost you a pretty penny.

This brings me to the best part of NBCSN coverage of the EPL. Not only will NBCSN air all 380 EPL matches, but they also offer both Premier League Extra Time and NBC Sports Live Extra at no extra cost to everyone who has NBC Sports. Premier League Extra Time is a collection of extra channels that air any match not shown on an NBCUniversal designated channel and NBC Sports Live Extra offers EPL viewers the capability to stream every match live using a desktop or a mobile device for no extra charge. The NBC Sports Live Extra app is supported by both Apple iOS and Android.

This may sound too good to be true for EPL fans, but currently the only downside to NBCSN airing the matches is that not every cable provider is currently carrying NBCSN. However, NBCSN claims on its website that it is working hard on adding other providers to a list that already contains WOW!, AT&T U-Verse, DISH and DirecTV.

NBCSN is receiving positive feedback from fans too, as last weekend’s EPL debut earned an average of 792,000 viewers and the best rating for an EPL opening weekend in the U.S. with a 0.8. These numbers show a 43 percent increase from last year when the matches were still shown on Fox Soccer. This significant increase is due partly to the sport gaining more fans across the U.S. but also because of the coverage offered by NBCSN.

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