Imagine for a minute that you’re one of the executives at either Fox Soccer Channel or Setanta Sports, and you have to decide which Premier League matches you’ll show on the final day of the season on U.S. TV. All of the matches on May 11 kick off at the same time: 10am ET/3pm GMT.
Here are the choices that Fox Soccer Channel has to choose from:
Chelsea v Bolton
Everton v Newcastle
Middlesbrough v Manchester City
Sunderland v Arsenal
Tottenham v Liverpool
And here are the choices that Setanta Sports has:
Wigan Athletic v Manchester United
Portsmouth v Fulham
Derby v Reading
West Ham v Aston Villa
Birmingham v Blackburn
Which ones would you pick? As you can see, it’s not an easy decision. Seriously, this is the actual list of matches that both Setanta and Fox Soccer Channel have to choose from. Almost all of the teams still have plenty to play for whether it’s a place in Europe, trying to escape relegation or attempting to win the Premier League title.
If I was Fox Soccer Channel, I would choose Chelsea against Bolton at 10am ET followed by Spurs against Liverpool on tape delay at Noon ET. Later that day or night, as time permits, they can show Everton against Newcastle.
Setanta Sports has a luxury that Fox Soccer Channel doesn’t have — being able to show matches concurrently on both Setanta Sports and Setanta Xtra, the overflow channel. If I was Setanta, I’d show Wigan against Man United on Setanta at 10am ET, and Birmingham vs Blackburn on Setanta Xtra at the same time. Then, at Noon ET, I’d show Portsmouth against Fulham on the main Setanta channel and West Ham against Aston Villa on Setanta Xtra.
The challenge is that it’s very difficult to know which games will feature all of the drama. The Chelsea and Man United matches are the easy ones (as long as both teams are still fighting for the title on the final day of the season). Predicting which relegation matches will be the ones to televise is a different matter entirely especially because they’re so unpredictable. Such was the case a few years ago when Norwich needed to win on the final day of the season, but lost 6-0 against Fulham instead.
Which matches would you choose to broadcast and why?