Who Reigns Supreme? Fox Soccer Channel, Setanta Sports or GolTV
If you’re a soccer fan in the United States, you’re familiar with the three most accessible 24/7 soccer networks, Fox Soccer Channel, GolTV and Setanta Sports. But you may be very surprised at the latest EPL Talk study where we closely examined a typical week for all three networks and calculated how often they broadcast different leagues, and what comprises their overall programming.First, some background. EPL Talk studied the TV guides for all three networks for the same week: From Saturday, March 31st at 12:01am through Friday, April 6 at midnight. We surveyed each program and, based on what type of program it was, we labelled it as belonging to one of six categories. More details about how the survey was conducted appear at the foot of the article.ProgrammingSecond, here are the results followed by a description and analysis of the findings. The first series of pie charts focus on what comprises the programming at the three major soccer networks:The majority of programming (32%) at Fox features replays of matches. Particularly, Fox Soccer Channel tends to often repeat the Premiership matches throughout the midweek. Fox also relies heavily on news and highlight shows (31%) including “Through The Night” from Sky, “Fox Soccer Report,” “Football Asia,” J-League highlights and other programs.Only 18% of Fox’s programming features live matches (or ones that are shown on a same-day delay [SDD]).Entertainment shows, such as “Fox Football Fone In” and “Dream Team” comprise 4% of its programming. And infomercials, which are played during the morning hours, take up 15% of FSC’s programming, almost more than the live and SDD matches.I found it surprising that 42% of Setanta’s programming in the U.S. focuses on sports such as rugby, Australian Rules football and gaelic football. Much of this programming is played late in the night, though, and Setanta — in comparison to Fox — doesn’t feature infomercials.Twenty eight percent of Setanta’s programming focuses on replays from matches played earlier that day or week. Some of this, like Fox, include reruns of the Premiership matches from the weekend, or Le Championnat matches from France.Schedules change week-by-week for all three networks, but in this particular week, Setanta devotes 17% of its programming to matches that are live or on a same-day delay. Thirteen percent of the Irish broadcaster’s content focuses on news and highlight shows such as the “EPL Review Show,” “Football Asia,” Chelsea TV and Manchester United TV.Out of the three networks, GolTV replays more of its matches (36%). The network replays many of its best matches from the weekend (such as Bundesliga, La Liga and Serie A) throughout the week. However, GolTV does feature the most news and highlights with shows such as Arsenal TV, Liverpool TV, “American Soccer,” and Bundesliga, Serie A and La Liga highlight shows, among others.Eighteen percent of its matches are shown live or on same-day delay. Incredibly, the vast majority of those occur on Saturdays and Sundays. On Saturday, March 31st, GolTV featured 14 hours of live and/or same-day delay matches, while the network numbered 12 hours on Sunday.Infomercials comprise 13 percent of its programming, while one percent focuses on entertainment (“Soccer Academy.”)LeaguesLet’s take a look at the three networks to see how much programming time they feature on the different leagues. Some of the findings may surprise you.Incredibly, 50% of the soccer matches that Fox Soccer Channel broadcasts are comprised of the Premier League. Of course that’ll change when the new season of Major League Soccer kicks off this weekend, but it just goes to show how much Fox relies on the coverage and how often it replays the EPL matches.Twelve percent of Fox’s matches are from the Serie A, which will increase significantly beginning with the 2007/2008 season because Fox will then own the rights. The Champion’s Cup (10%) is an anomaly and scores highly due to a few games being shown this week both live and replayed.With Setanta, 42% of the matches it broadcasts feature the Premiership, while 21% focus on the UEFA Champions League. The Scottish Premier League (SPL) is also well represented at 15%. Note: What I neglected to include was one match from the Dutch Eredivisie in the pie chart.GolTV broadcasts a wide range of soccer leagues, but the lionshare is commited to Spain’s La Liga (37%). The EPL, surprisingly, is 13% of GolTV’s soccer matches that the network broadcasts, all thanks to Arsenal TV and Liverpool TV (and the subsequent times the programs are replayed).Additional ThoughtsWhile GolTV broadcasts the most live/SDD coverage on weekends, the challenge is that the network offers little original or new programming to watch during the week. The exceptions are Arsenal TV and Liverpool TV, as well as the “American Soccer” show. But without the UEFA Cup and Champions League, GolTV offers fewer choices during the week.In a perfect world, soccer fans in the United States will embrace all three networks and watch the best bits that suit them. There is, after all, much to choose from.Which network is the best? It all depends what you like and what you want to see. All three offer pros and cons.Additional notes about how the research was conducted: Live/SDD matches only include soccer matches, not other sports; and the Arsenal TV and Liverpool TV programs were each categorized as 2 hours of replayed matches, with one hour of news/highlights.