Your quick, neophyte viewer’s guide to Premier League Saturdays
The Premier League makes its debut on NBC Sports in a little over three weeks, giving fans in the United States an unprecedented amount of access to games from the world’s most popular soccer league. For sports addicts, however, that can be a dangerous thing, with early kickoffs allowing fans to roll out of bed and straight into the peak of another country’s soccer weekend.
There’s a sublime pleasure to starting your sports weekend before people in your life have even considered coffee, but it can also be the start to a full day in your pajamas, with soccer bleeding into college and pro football, bleeding into fall evenings of basketball and hockey. Kiss your wife on the cheek, say goodbye to your children, and get used to ignoring their agape mouths when they comeback from Ice Age 12 to see you’re still on the couch. You’ll be sympathetic at first, but soon you’ll be tired of apologizing for incorporating the Premier League into your weekend ritual.
Don’t worry. We’re here to help. No, we’re not going to help you find a balance. All that’s over. We’re here to help you get the most out of your Premier League weekends; specifically, those Saturday mornings where the league’s early kick offs will really test your commitment.
Heed the following:
DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THAT EARLY KICKOFF
That 7:00 a.m. Eastern start is daunting. That’s what time most Premier League weekends will begin each Saturday, usually with a game that’s worth your time (Aug. 17th’s features Liverpool). While that commitment may seem imposing, there is something mundane about two hours you’ll spent on the quiet of morning watching soccer before the life around you stirs.
But don’t underestimate that commitment. With most big college football games kicking off in the early afternoon (at the earliest), we’re talking about moving your day’s new kickoff up five or six hours - the perfect amount of time to take in the Premier League Saturday before transitioning to your other favorite sports.
If you’re an alarm clock person Monday through Friday, you’ll want extend that routine an extra day. If you’re not an alarm clock person, you might consider the investment.
PREGAME IS NOW PART OF THE PACKAGE
For those familiar that routine, the days of waking up to the teams’ handshakes are over. Early games on NBC Sports Network will be preceded by Premier League Live - a 45-minute pregame show that will lead in each day’s matches. While most early games are going to kickoff closer to 7:45 a.m. Eastern, your weekend starts at the top of the hour.
KEEP SUPPLIES ON HAND
If you need your coffee, have it on the shelf Friday before you go to bed, and if you’re somebody that needs to snack on something through the games, make sure the Captain Crunch is in supply before kickoff. Once the games start, you’re not going to want to venture far from your screen. With Saturdays typically featuring three successive kickoff times (7:45 a.m., 10:00 a.m., 12:30 p.m. Eastern), you’re either going to remember to stock up or become famous at the local pizzeria for being the person who calls at 11:00 a.m. on the nose.
HAVE YOUR LAPTOP, MOBILE DEVICE HANDY
If you get NBCSN at home, you also have access to NBC Sports Live Extra, where games will be streamed live to your desktop, mobile device, or tablet. If somebody’s monopolizing the televisions in your house, you’ll still have a way to catch games, and if you’re lucky enough to have your set tuned to NBC or NBC Sports Network, your laptop or tablet becomes a great way to check for stats and updates at NBCSports.com or keep track of the conversation at ProSoccerTalk.
But don’t underestimate the power of soccer and social media. Twitter, in particular, has a dense and ardent soccer community. For U.S.-based fans often watching in that morning’s peace, Twitter becomes a great way to connect (and complain) with others.
THOSE COMPUTERS WILL COME IN HANDY AT 10 A.M. EASTERN
Enjoy that 7:45 a.m. game and the luxury of watching one game at a time, because the next kickoff time (10:00 a.m.) will feel like watching the early NFL kickoffs. On a typical Saturday, you’ll get five or six games starting at the same time, leaving you monitoring NBCSports.com to keep track of the latest goals, cards, and controversies.
So keep that laptop or tablet handy, because whatever games aren’t available on NBC Sports Network, you’ll be able to stream via NBC Sports Live Extra. If your game looks like it’s over, you can jump to another spot in the league to see England’s evening games wind down.
SWITCH TO NBC FOR THE MAIN EVENT
Most Saturdays, the day’s final match will be featured on NBC - big, national broadcast, over-air NBC. On the season’s first weekend, that means defending champions Manchester United will kickoff at 12:30 p.m. Eastern against Swansea City. In the weeks that follow, Everton-Chelsea, Swansea-Arsenal, Arsenal-Liverpool, and Manchester City-Tottenham will get that regular, prime spot on NBC.
AND BACK TO NBC SPORTS NETWORK FOR THE POSTGAME SHOW
After each day’s matches, Premier League Live will wrap up the action from NBC’s International Broadcast Center in Stamford, Conn., part of the over 600 hours of studio programming set to augment the network’s live coverage. That total includes Match of the Day - a two-hour highlights show modeled after the BBC program of the same name, set to air after Saturdays’ games.
Premier League addicts are going to get a full Saturday worth of programming, every Saturday. And for those who will incorporate Premier League soccer into their existing rituals, NBC’s offering a full day’s worth of action to fill that morning void before you favorite sports start.
But regardless of how much you take in, there’s always Sunday, were the league typically allocates two high profile games. And in the soccer world, Monday Night football’s also a thing.
And no matter who much Premier League you take in each weekends, Saturdays take a little getting used to. As well as some preparation.