International weekends always seem very surreal to me. It’s the luck of the draw whether England will be on TV. Plus you get a see an awful lot of football through a new set of eyes when you watch different national teams playing that you may have never seen in years or never at all. Ultimately it’s one weekend where you have to consult your TV guide. Or better yet, EPL Talk.
Here are the World Cup qualifiers on U.S. TV beginning on Saturday, March 28 and ending on Wednesday, April 1 (all times eastern):
Saturday, March 28
10:30am Iran v Saudi Arabia (Fox Soccer Channel)
11:00am Wales v Finland (GolTV & ESPN360)
1:15pm England v Slovakia (Setanta Premium & PPV)
1:15pm Northern Ireland v Poland (Setanta Premium)
2:00pm Israel v Greece (Setanta Sports & Setanta Broadband)
3:00pm Germany v Liechenstein (GolTV)
3:45pm Slovenia v Czech Republic (Fox Soccer Channel)
3:45pm Netherlands v Scotland (ESPN360)
3:45pm Republic of Ireland v Bulgaria (Setanta Premium)
4:45pm Portugal v Sweden (Setanta Sports)
5:00pm Spain v Turkey (GolTV)
6:00pm Mexico v Costa Rica (Telemundo)
6:10pm Argentina v Venezuela (Setanta Premium & PPV)
6:45pm Montenegro v Italy [tape delayed] (Setanta Sports)
8:20pm Colombia v Bolivia (Setanta Premium & PPV)
8:30pm Lithuania v France [tape delayed] (Setanta Sports)
9:00pm El Salvador v United States (ESPN2)
Sunday, March 29
5:00pm Ecuador v Brazil (Setanta Premium & PPV)
7:10pm Peru v Chile (Setanta Premium & PPV)
Tuesday, March 31
8:30pm Venezuela v Colombia (Setanta Premium & PPV)
Wednesday, April 1
10:30am Kazakhstan v Belarus (Fox Soccer Channel)
11:00am Bulgaria v Cyprus (Setanta Sports & Setanta Broadband)
2:00pm Turkey v Spain (Setanta Sports)
2:30pm Scotland v Iceland (ESPN360)
2:30pm Czech Republic v Slovakia (Fox Soccer Channel)
2:45pm Wales v Germany (GolTV & ESPN360)
2:45pm Netherlands v Macedonia (ESPN360)
2:50pm Italy v Republic of Ireland (Setanta Premium)
3:00pm England v Ukraine (Setanta Premium & PPV)
4:00pm Greece v Israel [tape delayed] (Setanta Sports)
5:00pm Andorra v Croatia [tape delayed] (Setanta Premium)
5:20pm Ecuador v Paraguay (Setanta Premium & PPV)
5:45pm France v Lithuania [tape delayed] (Setanta Sports)
7:00pm Bolivia v Argentina [tape delayed] (Setanta Premium)
7:30pm USA v Trinidad & Tobago (ESPN2 & ESPN360)
7:30pm Poland v San Marino [tape delayed] (Setanta Premium)
7:30pm Wales v Germany [tape delayed] (Setanta Sports & Setanta Broadband)
9:10pm Brazil v Peru (Setanta Premium & PPV)
While it seems like a ton of football matches, many of them are shown only on Setanta Premium — which is Setanta’s pub channel in the United States — or on pay-per-view (PPV).
That’s the case for England’s matches against Slovakia and Ukraine. You have three choices to watch the game. One, you can find a local pub (use the venue finder) and pay an admission price (often $20-$25). Two, you can watch the game on pay-per-view (Time Warner is charging $20, others may charge $25). Or three, which we don’t recommend, is that you can watch the game illegally.
I completely understand where Setanta is coming from in terms of wanting to make money to pay for the expensive rights to World Cup qualifiers, but to me, there has to be a better way than paying $20 to watch a match while you pay $15 for an entire month of football on Setanta Sports (and remember, the match against Slovakia is just a friendly). The tricky part is walking that fine line between not upsetting the pub owners who pay thousands of dollars each year for the right to show these big international matches versus making sure that consumers pay a similar amount if they choose to watch it on PPV from their own home.
The easy answer is to show the England matches on regular US television such as Fox Soccer Channel or Setanta Sports. But, as evidenced by Fox’s TV ratings for their England v Kazakhstan game from October 2008, the ratings for Premier League games are often higher than England internationals.
What do you suggest, and will you be watching either of England’s games? Click the comments link below and share your opinion.
Don’t forget to play the EPL Talk Predictor game where you can predict all of the World Cup qualifying games as well as the Premier League matches and cup tournaments. It’s free to register, free to play, and a lot of fun.