Last weekend, on August 17, NBC launched its new coverage of the English Premier League, after paying $250 million for the television rights to every soccer match played in the EPL over the next three years. Fox had been paying a third of that price to air a much smaller slate of games than NBC will. NBC’s execs seemed to have made a big gamble, betting that flooding the American market with English soccer would draw casual viewers in, boost NBC’s ratings, and increase the sport’s exposure in the U.S. The reward was the highest overnight rating in U.S. history for a Premier League season opener.
"Highest rating ever" may sound pretty impressive, and with last week’s talk about record viewing numbers, making history, and “new milestones,” you’d be forgiven for thinking this is a new era for soccer and America. Indeed, some commentators expect this new coverage to send it hurtling past America’s big four sports — football, basketball, baseball and hockey — to claim the top perch. Brian Ross at Huffington Post predicts that within 10 years “the NFL will be the No. 2 league in American sports.”
Don’t start trading in your Peyton Manning jerseys for Wayne Rooney ones yet, though.
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Before television took over the airwaves, Rockefeller Center was home to the National Broadcasting Company during the golden age of radio. This promotional film from around 1948 chronicles the rise of the media company from a small collection of 20 affiliated stations, formed in 1926, to more than 170 stations two decades later. The 24-minute documentary, courtesy of the Prelinger Archive, introduces the network and goes behind the scenes at Rockefeller Center, peeking into the mail room, sound recording studios, and music library.
The Office was going to fail this year. Steve Carell as Michael Scott was the once-in-a-lifetime Lucy/Bunker/Tyler Moore kind of a marriage of character and actor that is at once original, groundbreaking, and spectacular. His absence this year meant the most potent, essential ingredient to The Office's recipe for success was missing. Continuing the show without replacing that ingredient would make for a bland new series, but any substitute producers choose would inevitably change the show in a way that's off-putting to most viewers. But here's the thing: The Office came close to pulling the new recipe off.
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