Television companies that feature the Premier League throughout the season face the harsh reality of trying to keep their viewers returning during the three months in late Spring to early summer when the Premiership is on break.
The issue is especially troubling for soccer networks such as Fox Soccer Channel, GolTV and Setanta Sports. They must face a difficult time trying to convince advertisers to run commercials in the summertime when soccer diehards watch far less coverage between the middle of May to the middle of August.
The situation is compounded when you take into consideration the summer tournaments that focus viewers on one channel. During Euro 2008, my TV was tuned to ESPN and ESPN2 for more than 62 hours.
In an informal poll conducted by EPL Talk, 19% of our U.S. readers watched zero hours of Fox Soccer Channel programming during June. For FSC, these are pathetic results when you consider that during the EPL season, many EPL Talk readers will watch 32 hours or more of Fox during a typical month.
When it comes to soccer on TV networks, we have little to no loyalty. Whoever will show a tournament such as Euro 2008 will automatically get our allegiance for an entire month every four years. If the coverage of the Premier League suddenly switched from Fox Soccer Channel and Setanta Sports to another network such as ESPN, we’d switch allegiances overnight and go whichever way the wind blew.
While Fox shows replays of classic Premier League matches as well as MLS and USL games during the summertime, I feel that FSC’s summertime selection is shortsighted. If I was in charge of programming for Fox, here’s what I would do:
- Get the viewers involved. Fox could easily take their list of archived programming they have and list it on their website and allow viewers to vote for the classic games they’d like to see on the channel. This way, viewers feel more involved in the programming and are more likely to watch the classic matches rather than stumble across them on Fox.
- Improve the marketing. Fox Soccer Channel should be packaging its programming together into blocks of time that would be easier for viewers to remember. For example, there could be “FA Cup Thursdays” during the month of July that show some of the best FA Cup finals. Or what about “Grand Slam Sundays” where the best Sunday matches are strung together on Sunday mornings or evenings. The list of possibilities goes on and on.
- Give us an EPL Review Show marathon. This was an idea suggested by one of EPL Talk’s readers last summer. Why not take all of the EPL Review Shows and run them back-to-back as a marathon so that viewers could learn more about the history of the Premier League from season to season? I know I would definitely watch it.
The kickoff of the new Premier League season is 45 days away but, for me, there are few reasons to watch Fox Soccer Channel between now and then. I can’t wait for the new EPL season to begin, but Fox obviously needs to do something to reverse the summer doldrums. GolTV and Setanta Sports are in a similar bucket too, but at least Setanta will be showing a lot of friendlies this summer involving Premier League sides while GolTV will have some of the World Cup qualifying matches.
What are your thoughts on what Fox should do during the summer months to keep soccer fans returning? Post your opinions below by clicking the comments link.