Tonight’s match between Spurs and Chelsea was a perfect example of how Fox Soccer Channel has lost the creme de la creme of Premier League TV rights in the United States.
In the incredible 4-4 London derby — described by BBC London as the best match of the Premier League season thus far — Setanta Sports had the first dibs on the game and showed it on their network. Fox Soccer Channel, meanwhile, had the second choice match which featured a very predictable 2-0 win for Manchester United against Bolton (although Wanderers definitely had their moments in the match and opportunities to narrow the scoreline).
The shame about the sensational four-four draw between Tottenham and Chelsea is that the majority of soccer fans in the States were unable to watch the game. While the number of subscribers to Setanta Sports continues to grow, the challenge for many viewers (myself included) who refuse to switch from cable to satellite (or are unable to attach a dish to their home) is that Setanta is not currently available via cable television.
Until this happens, many soccer fans will miss out on these games of the season, and will miss out — for example — on this Sunday’s Manchester United against Liverpool must-see match from Old Trafford (only available via Setanta). Fox Soccer Channel, thankfully, still has their Sunday big match of the week to save them. This Sunday it’s no less than Chelsea against Arsenal.
With ITVN pulling the plug on Setanta, soccer fans in the States now have only three main options to receive Setanta. Those are DirecTV, Dish Network and Setanta Broadband. The first two may not be ideal for many viewers. Depending on where you live, satellite television is often more expensive than cable TV. Setanta Broadband, meanwhile, is an excellent option for fans who are tethered to their computers but isn’t ideal for those supporters who want to sit and watch the match with friends or family members in the comfort of their living room.
While Fox’s choice of Premier League coverage continues to dwindle season after season, Setanta Sports has grown in strength. The biggest challenge for Setanta, though, is providing an easy way for people to view its programming.