How ESPN Would Change The Face of Premier League Coverage On U.S. TV
Imagine it’s Saturday, August 15 2009. This is not just any Saturday, though. It’s the kickoff of the 2009/2010 Premier League season. Leeds United has been promoted back to the big league. Man United is hoping to win their fourth EPL title in a row, and Arsenal will play their first new season without Arsene Wenger in charge. A big weekend of soccer awaits.
Looking at the TV guide (aka crystal ball) for that opening weekend, here’s the schedule for TV viewers in the United States (all times Eastern):
7:45am: Leeds v Chelsea (ESPN3) [High Definition]
10am: Crystal Palace v Liverpool (ESPN3)
10am: West Ham United v Newcastle United (Setanta Sports)
10am: Queens Park Rangers v Middlesbrough (Setanta Xtra)
10am: Manchester City v Bolton Wanderers (Fox Soccer Channel)
12:15pm: Fulham v Everton (ESPN3)
8:30am: West Bromwich Albion v Wigan (Setanta Sports)
10am: Blackburn v Portsmouth (Fox Soccer Channel)
11am: Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur (ESPN3) [High Definition]
3pm: Aston Villa v Arsenal (ESPN3) [High Definition]
It’s a dream come true for Premier League fans in the U.S. of A. With ESPN’s penetration into the homes via cable and satellite, ESPN3 (formerly ESPN Classic) would bring the EPL to the masses with high production values, some of the games in HD and the best picks of the games every weekend. ESPN would sublicense the TV rights for the other matches to Setanta and Fox Soccer Channel. The three networks working together will be able to show every single Premier League match live.
The dream of watching Premiership soccer on ESPN is not that far off from reality. According to soccer writer Ives Galarcep today, “The word I just got from a source at ESPN is that ESPN is definitely interested and the feeling around the network is that a large bid is coming because ESPN has big plans for expanding ESPN Classic into potentially an ESPN3, with the English Premier League as one of the station’s marquee draws. That whole scenario may wind up being wishful thinking but what is clear is tht ESPN is interested in the EPL rights.”