FRI, 2:30PM ET
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Fox Soccer Channel Acquires Champions League TV Rights in US

Breaking News: Fox Soccer Channel has beaten ESPN to the US TV rights to the UEFA Champions League.

This is a massive coup for Fox Soccer Channel and a huge blow for ESPN. Plus this is the second time in 2 weeks that ESPN has lost Champions League rights to Fox. Just two weeks Fox Sports Latin America won the Latin America Champions League rights.

More details to come. But in the meantime, what’s your reaction to the news and do you think Fox can do a better job of covering future Champions League seasons?

This entry was posted in General, Leagues: EPL. Bookmark the permalink.

About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
View all posts by Christopher Harris →

71 Responses to Fox Soccer Channel Acquires Champions League TV Rights in US

  1. Matthew Semisch says:

    Hopefully FSC will acquire the US TV rights to Derek Rae, as well.

  2. Dave says:

    What year will this new deal begin?

  3. Anon says:

    Any news on US tv rights for the EPL?

  4. Dano says:

    To answer your question succinctly… no. No American network can adequately cover the Champion’s League matches. When I watch the matches, I prefer seeing them over the internet on a lower quality stream, but with better statistics, commentary and post-game analysis. The times I’ve seen an ESPN match, they butchered the names and the announcers had no idea what was going on. They try to refer everything back to American terms (i.e.: what this play would mean in Baseball or American Football).

    Watching American networks cover football is like watching a Chinese network cover hockey. It’s pointless, makes no sense and sounds better with the mute on.

  5. Marc says:

    I just hope Costigan or Bretos won’t be doing the play by play.

  6. David Andrews says:

    Can’t Fox then use Sky Sports coverage of the Champions League? Just like Setanta sometimes does.

  7. Simon Burke says:

    I am guessing this occurs after next season is completed??

    EPL TV rights later today gaffer?

  8. Double Pivot says:

    AWESOME!

    ESPN’s years of shitting on our beloved sport are over. Blanked in England and now losing this.

    And no more f******g Tommy Smythe.

    But I do hope Derrek Rae moves over to FSC.

  9. W says:

    This is not so good news. Remember that Fox Soccer Channel is not an HD Channel so we won’t get the Champions League Final in the oh-so-opulent “High Definition”!!!! Bleh!!!

  10. Rich says:

    I’m with W on this one — I’m spoiled by my HD! But here’s something else I’d like to know: will more games be broadcast? ESPN has to worry about every other sport, but hopefully FSC will show many more complete games, even if on tape delay.

  11. winstongator says:

    w – I am concerned about the HD also. Could fsc sometime get HD feeds? All the games I see/dvr are on espn2hd and the picture quality on fsc is a big drawback for me .

  12. kma says:

    ESPN does not broadcast the CL in HD until the Final.

  13. nick says:

    Thank God !!!!!!!!
    No more Tommy Smyth and his drivel………………

  14. John says:

    Not happy about this.
    In addition to picture quality, I hope Fox will stop showing the first half with a 2 or 3 minute delay so they can get the commercials in. For a 24 hour channel it appears there’s not enough time in the day to allow themselves to preview games AND have commercials. Pity.
    While their use of the word ‘Live’ is not as misleading as NBC’s Olympic coverage, it still bugs me.

  15. kma says:

    I can’t believe you’re complaining about a two minute delay. Get a grip, dude.

  16. manubhoy says:

    The good thing about this is that it might expedite FSC HD, providing they keep the EPL too. I wonder if this will make it more or less likely that ESPN will make a full court press for the EPL rights?

    One thing I worry about with FSC and the CL – the great thing with ESPN having the rights was that you could always watch 2 games at once because of ESPN deportes carrying Barca or Real Madrid. Perhaps Fox Sports en Espanol would do the same?

  17. John says:

    Either do it right or not at all.
    Grip got.

  18. Gary Hunt says:

    This is good.

    Get football off of ESPN with it’s lack of interest in the game and onto a channel that is dedicated to the sport.

    Good news. Hope Fox can secure the EPL rights now.

  19. Kevin says:

    I think this could be good news but I think FSC has to make some decisions. The most important to me is who announces the games. Please either get the international feed or hire guys like Derek Rae to do the games from the studio.

    -Add much more pregame, postgame and halftime shows. Please for the love of god. No more Christian Miles. Can we actually get some decent pre/post game analysis from people who know the game.

    Upgrade the picture. Doesn’t necessarily mean HD but the general picture quality is much better on ESPN.

  20. Hank says:

    I see this, overall, as a negative for soccer fans.

    Pros:
    A dedicated soccer channel means more games may make it on air.

    Cons:
    1) No HD!
    2) Fewer TV’s have access to FSC. Probably not an issue for the readers of this blog, but a negative generally.
    3) No matter how annoying Tommy “Onion Bags” Smythe is, the ESPN commentary team is much better than what I’ve seen in-house at FSC (unless they get Bobby McMahon in the booth).

  21. Hank says:

    … I’ll admit though, I’ve sort of grown accustomed to that onion loving bastard.

  22. Robbie says:

    Haha, No more Tommy Smythe and Derrick Raye, No more Tommy Smythe and Derrick Raye lalalalalalalalala. Gaffer thanks for the great news. Finally all our wishes have come true. I’m throwing a party, its party time. Wooooooohooooooooo!

  23. Dan says:

    This sucks!

    While espn may not have the best coverage of the CL in the world it is certainly better than what fsc could just because they have so much more potential than fsc. Yes, Tommy Smythe is Sh*t and I don’t like hearing him any more than the next, but Derek Rae is pure class. It also seemed like espn was trying to improve their football coverage, think of euro 08 with Andy Gray and trying to improve with Seedorf in the booth for last years CL final.

    Also fsc could get hd but who knows how long that will take. Espn already has 2 or 3 hd streams. Espn also has 360 and classic/deportes to show more live matches. Fsc only has their espanol channel. This also probably hinders the creation of an espn3.

    Overall espn has much more potential to become better with their football coverage and in my opinion is already on par or better than fsc in many aspects. Just please get rid of tommy Smythe!

  24. Robbie says:

    Well it just goes to show what ESPN really this about our beloved football here in Norh America. Fine the production value is good but they dont seem to care about it anymore. They are now completey shut out of the football production. This will have a massive effect on on the World Cup production. Tommy and Derrick are out of jobs. Then the American public dont care about soccer anyway. After that it really boils down to the NFL, flyfishing, Nascar thats what rakes int he dough. ESPN jsut showed ther’re true face and they lost. FSC won simple as that.

  25. NJ says:

    The success of the game in the US will be a product of viewership, and ESPN has a bigger reach then Fox Soccer. So Tommy Smyth may be gone, but so is the potential of reaching more homes and more viewers therefore expanding the games reach domestically. Now we’ve cut out another channel carrying the game. It will be very interesting to see how aggressive ESPN was in bidding for EPL rights. By the way Gaffer, any chance GolTV is coming back to DISH?????? I miss La Liga.

  26. Ivan says:

    This is good news and bad news. Fox Soccer Channel MUST now become a household channel, and become part of EVERY American home. No excuses!!!
    And, HD is a must before this coming Fall.
    And, as someone already mentioned, FSC desperately needs competent commentators: no more Max Bretos and Christian Miles: these guys are retarded.
    Let’s see who gets the EPL rights now! If ESPN doesn’t get those, it means absolutely no soccer on the ESPN family of networks…(MLS and USMNT don’t count). So much for ESPN promoting the game in America…

  27. Martin says:

    FSC has some of the worst Soccer coverage in the industry. I have seen more accidental shots of cubicles that I have seen lineups on FSC. I hope they figure out their equipment by the time they start broadcasting the Champions league games.

  28. eplnfl says:

    Until we know what happens with the EPL rights it’s too early to judge the effect.
    If ESPN is shut out of the EPL then it will be a big setback for soccer in America. Yes, for American soccer.

  29. todd says:

    anyone who thinks FSC put on a good show are kidding themselves. espn may not be perfect.. but moving from the worldwide leader in sports (bleh) to a niche channel that doesnt even have the self respect to show matches live or mention rival channels by name. we as football fans in america have come to appreciate FSC.. its our favorite local shop cause they carry our favorite brands. but there are certain benefits to shopping at walmart. and progress is moving more towards espn.. not channel 228 or whatever it is. the longer i have to worry about how i can view the match, the longer this sport will be inferior in our country.

    ill say it, one thing thats killing the sport in this country is ‘soccer fan’. coming a close second, FSC and Setanta. the three biggest sports in this country have their own dedicated channel.. NFL Network, MLB and NBA as well. but thats a supplement to the product for hardcore fans. for us, we are slaves to whoever has the lunchtime kickoff. we are a long way off, and as long as FSC or Setanta have any pull, we are not getting any closer.

  30. DC Cavalier says:

    Whether people like ESPN’s presentation of the ECL or not, in America, if you not on ESPN, then you really aren’t in the best marketing position.

    Hockey used this same logic when it went to Versus instead of ESPN and while they have gotten some more money for doing so, they is no doubt that the league would be better off if games were on ESPN where they would be projected better nationally.

    I appreciate Fox Soccer Channel’s dedication to covering the game, but I just don’t see ECL coverage on FSC better than it is on ESPN, including ESPN 360.

  31. Simon Burke says:

    Question, will Setanta have any games still? Right now ESPN has the major game and Setanta has a load of others… Did FSC buy them all and then will sublet to Setanta?

  32. John says:

    There was an article on this site on December 8, 2008 that said FSC will have an HD feed by the end of 2010. That’s right before the quarterfinals of the Champions League begins, so no worries on picture quality…

  33. Lud says:

    Yeah some of the ESPN staff seems to be hostile to the beautiful game, but I think its unfair to characterize EPSN’s play by play as American ignorance (last few ECL’s I watched were done by Europeans.) Most of the studio commentators are former players who have played in Europe as well. That said ESPN is cheaper and more widely available in the US than FSC or Setanta. I for one am not that stoked about Fox taking the reins. I hope if ESPN gets EPL coverage they will cover it as much as Fox does tho, and not like they’re doing MLS now.

  34. Wat says:

    Well this is terrible news. I don’t get FSC or FSE. I can’t spend the money to upgrade our service to get that. So looks like I’ll be one of the masses who will no longer get to watch champions league games. F you ESPN and F you Fox.

  35. 50 says:

    seriously bummed.
    espn=basic cable.
    FSC=upgrade package…im not paying an extra $35 a month just for FSC.(the worst “dedicated” football channel there is) i guess itll be the pub and shitty online streams for me…..will the alternate game still be carried by setanta in the US?

  36. Robbie says:

    Fox Soccer has taken the blog by Jamie Trecker of their webiste. Some other websites have been saying the aquisition by Fox Soccer for Champions league rights hasn’t been confirmed. So we need to hold the horses until their is an official announcement by either Fox Soccer Channel or ESPN enitities. Very interesting why they took his comments of their site.

    Cheers,
    Robbie

  37. andy c. says:

    looks like i’m keeping my $5 per month sports package for sure now.

    i was never in love with espn’s broadcasts. hopefully fsc will do what they do for epl matches and play the commentator feed from england or whichever country is covering because fsc’s commentators are GARBAGE SUPREME!!!

  38. Jay says:

    FSC is horrible. dont care that its a dedicated channel for football they do a horrendous job of covering everything. ESPN did a great job covering the CL. Nothing they showed was by ESPN anyways so the only thing people here can complain about is the announcers and that is just personal opinions.

    Only good thing about FSC(besides EPL games) is that they show EPL/FA Cup review shows and Sky Sports News.

  39. Ryan says:

    If FSC tries to Pay per view the CL like they used to do with the FA cup I will drive to Sasketchawan or Toronto or Vancouver or wherever the heck they are and break all of their equipment.

    Other than that, I’m pretty indifferent to this whole possible deal.

  40. Steve says:

    Confirmed. Jamie Trecker has taken the “FSC gets Champions League rights in U.S.” post off his Twitter blog. Somebody at FSC must have told him to take it off since probably there’s still no agreement. Without any confirmation from FSC or ESPN, to me, the Champions League rights are still up in the air. There is also no press release on either multichannel.com or sportsbusiness.com which always posts any new sports programming agreements. And Yes, they do include soccer TV agreements.

  41. Scott says:

    stop ripping your hair out over the HD thing on FSC, its already announced late last year that FSC is going HD in 2010!!

  42. cftv says:

    I was hoping that ESPN was going to keep the CL, acquire the Premiership, and become the end all be all of soccer networks just because I understand penetration that ESPN/ESPN 2 has to regular Joe Sports Fan in getting over the game as a sport that a fan of sports should be interested in .

    For me personally it sucks because we got ESPN 2 at work and would plan our lunches/breaks around watching the Champions League and with the games on FSC.

    One thing to think about that Fox could do is farm out the 2nd choice game to their Fox Sports Net Affiliates like Fox Sports Florida, Detroit, North, Midwest, Northwest, West, South, Pittsburgh, New England and such to give the games visibility since most of those channels are on basic cable service and not offered with your digital cable box or in some cases a sports package. I fully expect FSC to rerun the CL games throughout the week since the rights had to cost them a pretty penny but can be used as nice filler as even ESPN Deportes will randomly show CL games from earlier this year as filler programming. I wonder if the deal is just the rights to the game or if the deal includes any shoulder programming like a UEFA CL produced preview/review shows and/or classic games from the vault.

    What an interesting turn in the whole soccer rights chess match that is going on with the Premiership up next to make their move!

  43. Christan Young Fleming says:

    I, as well as millions of other Americans these days, have to put cable upgrades at the bottom of my list of priorities. I like Fox Soccer Channel and became a soccer fan during the 2006 World Cup. Yes, I have a lot to learn about the game, and look forward to learning as much as I can. Unfortunately I can’t learn about or enjoy soccer if I have to buy games on pay-per-view. I can understand making a game a pay-per-view event within 100 miles of the game, but across the Atlantic?? Really?? Like they’re losing out at the stadium because more people in Iowa aren’t showing up for the game?? If the world wants America to buy into soccer…and we all know what kind of money Americans spend on NFL/NBA/MLB….. the world needs to wet Americas appetite with LOTS of QUALITY (ie. HD) coverage for FREE…for a long time. People need to realize how many DECADES Americans grew up watching, and listening to on the radio, their favorite football or baseball games broadcast for free on one of the 3 networks. My country would have never developed such an addiction to these sports if they hadn’t been available to the general public as a source of healthy, cost free distraction from the hardships of day-to-day life. These are the economic times to develop the “love of a game”.
    I hope Fox Soccer Channel is run by people with the brains and the guts to recognize this window of opportunity and use it to flood American homes with international soccer, particularly the homes who need a healthy, low cost distraction from lifes hardships,therefore allowing Americans to fall in love with the game of soccer.

  44. john says:

    I think that it’s sad to see the rights go to FSC. ESPN did a great job with the CL in all aspects. Not everyone gets FSC and therefore it will be more difficult for an average american sports fan to see these games. More people watch ESPN in the first place over FSC; including me. But I think that more people will see a soccer game on ESPN and become drawn into the sport than having to buy FSC just to see the game.

  45. eplnfl says:

    The last few comments are really well placed. FSC at least on Comcast cable is on a sports package cost extra $$$$$. These days the cable bill gets cut first.

    ESPN did a good job, some people may have wanted more or different things, but the basic presentation was quality and ESPN began to see the value and audience had increased it’s soccer offerings across the board. Hopefully it won’t be a complete pull back from soccer by ESPN.

  46. Kevin says:

    I think it’s a blow for fans. Does anyone think, as Fox does with the Prem, that the good Champions League matches aren’t going to be pay-per-view? At present, with my ESPN Deportes subscription, I can see every match on every match day if I so choose. Fox now has Italy, England, Argentina, MLS and assorted other stuff. Where does Champions League fit in, and how much of it will we see on free television?

    ESPN did (does) a very good job, Tommie Smyth’s blatherings notwithstanding. And none of it is PPV. I’m thinking that we can say goodbye to those days, just as with any big Premiership match, unless you want to pony up $20. Ugh.

  47. SSReporters says:

    Max Bretos yelling his way through Man United/AC Milan in the Champions League Quarterfinal in 2009-10 would kill me.

    I hate this move.

  48. eplnfl says:

    For those who may not have seen him Max’s work with the MLS broadcast over the weekend was quite good. Yet, he is not quite ready to be the next Derek Rae, but maybe no one is.

  49. Nathan Low says:

    Derek Rae is atrocious. His accent is nauseating. His partnership with Smythe is the worst in soccer. Good riddance. If only Allen Hopkins still worked for FSC, he could do the UEFA games with Bretos–two great, young American commentators–that’s how it should be!

  50. Eric says:

    Nathan – you must be joking. Max Bretos’s commentary and analysis of football is an absolute farce.

    On another note, as annoying as the ESPN ticker is at the bottom of Champions League matches, I reckon I will come to miss the ticker as massive advertisements for worldsoccershop.com, Sylvania blu-ray player, and all the other stupid shit they use 1/5 of the screen for.

  51. Stewart says:

    Anyone who puts Rae and Bretos in the same sentence is doing Derek Rae a huge disservice. His talent really belongs on Sky or BBC. The loss of the Champions League by ESPN might make him return home unless Fox try to steal him as others have said. The gravitas and sense of drama Rae gives the Champions League nights are a big reason why ESPN’s coverage looks and feels so much better than their domestic soccer coverage. Better enjoy the next few weeks.

  52. Jamaica2099 says:

    I guess me and my fellow Jamaicans seem to have a huge difference of opinion from Americans if Fox Soccer Channel got the rights to broadcast the Champions League over ESPN.
    While ESPN calls itself a multi-sports channel. This is true, but only for Americans. ESPN International which caters to Latin America and the Caribbean doesn’t even carry Rugby or Cricket which many Jamaicans see as different variations of American NFL and Baseball. FSC as the name implies is 100% football with news reports, highlights, other football leagues live and delayed from Italy and Argentina.
    The main reason many subscribers have ESPN lies with the fact that it is part of the sports package with Jamaican cable companies. And this was as a last resort when the cable owners saw Jamaican subscribers only ordering the S ports MaxPack which included the Caribbean Sports channel SportsMax, FSC Jamaica and the just purchased Setanta Sports for $750.00 while the other sports channels like ESPN, Tennis and the Golf channel on a separate package were being ignored. So the choice was made to include all the sports channels as one package at the same cost.
    And didn’t ESPN start out small; from pebble to mountain. So will FSC and the Powers That Be will already have plans for the HD format available in time for the Champions League.
    Football crazy. Indeed we are. So here’s hoping the Champions League comes to FSC.

  53. FMYLIFE says:

    Two words: Christian Miles.

    FSC has A LOT of work to do. Hopefully this is the beginning of the makeover they drastically need. A weekly football show in a “pub?” Get real.

  54. Jerry Falzarano says:

    I am not thrilled with Fox Soccer Channel getting the Champions League rights. However, this could work if they would air the main match on the fox Network itself. Beides that, I think it diminishes it, as this is arguably the second biggest tournament in the world behind the Wolrd Cup. What do you think?

  55. brandon says:

    its gonna suck with the announcers they have and until they go hdtv

  56. Jose says:

    i guess it all depends on whether FSC improve or not. For starters i personally like the espn commentary for uefa cl. The FSC commentary is whack (not in good way) unless they do like they do with the epl and the european announcers do commentary.

    And how many games will they show. Currently on espn its 4 a week with them showing 2 a matchday with one on espn2 and the other delayed on classic.

    Now if there was an FSC2 and in HD that would be sweet.

    But for the most part if there was a poll on where this is good or bad, it would be bad

  57. ulster_red says:

    Hallelujah……no more Tommy Smyth……there is a god after all!!!!!!!!!!!

  58. John says:

    FSC plans to braodcast far more European champions league games than espn did.
    Also they will most likely use British announcers, like their EPL broadcasts do.
    And they will be going hdtv in late 2009 or early 2010.

  59. Christopher says:

    I think this is a good thing… I’d like to see FSC exceed, and hope that HD will be available in time. Also, If Fox is able to air some of the games not only on FSC, but on FSN and their main FOX channel, this will definately be a huge upgrade from ESPN which hardly ever airs on ABC… Kind of a dissapointment I had with ESPN. Hopefully FOX will be able to get the General public more aware and excited about the champions league tournament than I feel ESPN did.

  60. Paul says:

    Max Bretos doing CL games???? UGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!! Does anyone really like his “YEEEEEEEEAAAAGGGGHHHHHH!!!!” other than himself???

  61. George V says:

    This looks like is going to be a major “blow” for soccer. If Fox wants to raise their audience they must do better than just be included in expensive cable and satellite packages. Soccer still not that important in the US that will make people spend the extra “bucks” on their TV packages to watch European soccer games playing during mid-week at working time hours.
    I must say that a few years ago when I signed up for Dish Network I did get Fox Soccer Network, but latter I realized that I was paying $20.00 a month just for that channel. Off course I did get many other channels in that package, but they where worthless then as they are today, so I had to get them just to be able to see Fox Soccer.
    I drop it and was please to have some Champion League soccer games on ESPN2 without paying that much extra. Until now Fox never really did anything to be available to more people, and this deal with UEFA is not going to help, because I’m not going to pay more for it.
    I can still watch the games for free on the internet, anyway.

  62. John says:

    Who wants to watch games on the internet when you can comfortably watch the game in your living room or whatever on your big tv set.
    Fox Soccer Channel is well worth getting. You get EPL, Italian Serie A, Argentine league, UEFA (Europa) cup, Champions league games, and other soccer games.

  63. Rob H says:

    I just added FSC to my DirecTV package to wath the Gold Cup games and the picture is HORRIBLE (can’t tell one player from another!) on my 55″ widescreen HDTV!! I will NOT be paying $13 a month to get FSC to watch Champions League if FSC does not get an HD channel up!

  64. Wayne says:

    This Sux,

    Dose Fox Soccer Channel have HD format?
    FSC has alot of work to work out. Hopefully they don’t have the MLS announcers calling the game….

  65. Chris says:

    My only problem with the move to FSC is getting someone in an ordinary bar or restaurant to turn on FSC or even have it. CL matches are often on weekdays, which means getting out of work and heading to the nearest place with a set. At least there was no problem getting someone to turn on ESPN2.

  66. jay says:

    This is horrible news. Champions League on ESPN2 was basically the only TV I watched regularly. The announcers were great, the coverage was great and it was in HD. FSC is blurry, the announcers weak and it lacks the passion.

    Now what is ESPN2? Women’s softball, flyfishing, NASCAR and boring baseball!

  67. mj says:

    I hope FSC can do a better job than ESPN but i dont think so unless Derick Rae and Tonny smithe would be coming over. Secondly, what would happen when there are more than two matches been played? As far as i know there is only one non HD FSC channel. Thirdly, have you ever watched a football game on FSC without the commentors pronouncing the name of the playes wrong or just plain killing the excitment of the game with their dull commentaries? I just hope FSC can prove me wrong.

  68. rodrigo says:

    This is probably the worst news i’ve heard in recent time….ESPN was one of the reasons why i loved watching CL football…now i have to listen to brats like Nick Webster,,CHristina Miles and other fools who know nothing of European Football let alone football on the whole…why is this happening.?????

  69. gentiville says:

    I miss Champions League on ESPN2….Fox Sucks balls. I cant believe they didnt show Inter vs Barcelona today booooooo.
    When espn had a game on, you could go on espn360 and watch the rest of them for free..Fox wants $10 a game and its a shity streaming video..

  70. Justin says:

    Well I don’t have fox soccer channel so this bugs the hell out of me. I can no longer watch UEFA like I have been in the past couple of years and that is one of the main reasons why I grown more accustomed to european soccer. Who cares about the EPL and La Liga on ESPN. That is garbage in my mind. I want to see games that matter and that are interesting. I do not want to see Bolton vs. Manchest UTD. GARBAGE. It’s a shame that a channel that isn’t even on cable gets these games.

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