By JOE REEDY
Updated: May 21, 2022 02:00 AM
Created: May 21, 2022 01:44 AM
With the Premier League title race coming down to the final day of matches, NBC is pulling out all the stops in its coverage of Championship Sunday.
To ensure the network is covered in case Manchester City or Liverpool win the title, it's top announcing team will be in Manchester and the studio crew at Liverpool. It marks the first time in NBC's nine years of covering the Premier League that its studio team will be in England for the final weekend.
"It has been something I was thinking about since January when it looked like we were going to have this crazy season going and Liverpool was making its run," said Pierre Moossa, the coordinating producer for NBC's Premier League coverage. "In early April, we decided we were going to be there. The season is too special."
Going into the final game, Manchester City (90 points) has a one-point lead over Liverpool (89). The clubs have combined to win the past four Premier League titles. City is the defending champion and claimed the crown in 2017-18 and 2018-19, while Liverpool ended a 30-year domestic league title drought in 2019-20.
Moossa said splitting the top announce team and studio crew in different locations serves the viewers' best interest. The announce team of Arlo White, Lee Dixon, and Graeme Le Saux will call the Manchester City-Aston Villa match on NBC.
The studio crew of Rebecca Lowe, Robbie Earle, Robbie Mustoe, and former U.S. National Team goalkeeper Tim Howard will anchor coverage from Liverpool, beginning at 9 a.m. EDT on Peacock. USA Network joins in at 10 a.m. with all the matches starting an hour later. The Liverpool-Wolverhampton Wanderers match will air on USA Network.
Arsenal-Everton (CNBC), Norwich City-Tottenham (SYFY), and Burnley-Newcastle (Golf Channel) are the other matches that will air on NBC-owned channels, with the other five only on Peacock. Arsenal and Tottenham are fighting for a spot in the top four, which would give them a spot in the Champions League, while Burnley is trying to avoid relegation.
"It's exciting for the viewers because the last day matters for a lot of the teams. Everybody plays it cool for most of the season, but there have been a lot of fist-pumping and shouting after games because they realize how tight the race has been," Howard said.
The close race has also translated into increased ratings for NBC. Heading into Championship Sunday, Premier League ratings are up 22% over last season, with games averaging 501,000 viewers. It is on pace to be the most-watched season since 2015-16.
A record 12 matches have averaged 1 million viewers or more, breaking the previous U.S. Premier League mark of eight.
The Aug. 28, 2021, match between Liverpool and Chelsea averaged 1.4 million viewers, making it the most-watched Premier League match in U.S. history. The April 10 match between Manchester City and Liverpool averaged 1.1 million on USA Network for the second most-watched cable match in U.S. history.
Coverage of Championship Sunday between all the NBC networks has averaged 1.5 million to 2 million viewers in each of the last five years.
This is the final season of NBC's current six-year, $1.1 billion agreement with the Premier League. Last November, it won the rights to a six-year, $2.7 billion contract that kicks in next season.
"The interest that fans in the U.S. have in the Premier League is amazing. When we went to the Kentucky Derby a couple of weekends ago, there was a lot of interest in people coming up to our set and wanting to talk about it," Mustoe said. "There's so much crossover. I feel like the timeslot on Saturday and Sunday mornings has helped people get into it."
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