Details of FOX Sports/ Setanta UEFA Champions League Packages


I was fortunate to be invited on a conference call with FOX Sports International and Setanta Sports to discuss the new UEFA Champions League packages for the US market beginning next season. FOX takes over as the primary package from ESPN and Setanta has acquired a separate package which includes exclusive broadband rights.

Here are some quick points about the deal.

  • Fox Sports Net will air 16 Tuesday matches from the qualifying rounds in August until the semifinal. Areas without an FSN owned station will probably see the matches on an FSN affiliate like CSN or Sun Sports, for example.
  • Fox Soccer Channel will show two live games per week and three games on tape delay during the group stages.
  • Setanta will have two live games each week during the group stages.
  • FOX is looking into the possibility of using on site commentators from the international feed.
  • FSC will have live pre and post game shows as well as a daily 30 minute wrap up show.
  • The final for each of the three seasons of this package will be shown on Fx in HD. Fx is in as many homes nationally than ESPN 2
  • Setanta will be re-launching its broadband product next month with enhanced video quality.

I’m curious to gauge the view of our readers as to whether or not you feel this package is satisfactory and also whether or not you will miss ESPN’s coverage of the event?

25 thoughts on “Details of FOX Sports/ Setanta UEFA Champions League Packages”

  1. Good riddance, ESPN. Please focus on college basketball, college football, poker, curling, etc. The ESPN networks are a joke, anyways.
    ESPN has treated football/soccer like a bastard child for years. I am so looking forward to watching Champions League games without a ticker telling me that the Yankees are 4/2 up on the Crocodiles. Ugh.
    This is FSC’s big chance to become a household name and push into every American home. I hope they don’t blow it.
    The games should start ON TIME. It is almost 2010 and I am sick of watching the Premier League games with a 3-5 minute delay!!!
    No Max Bertos, Christian Miles, or any other misunderstandings during the pre- and post-game shows. The only person who is qualified to talk about football at the moment is Bobby McMahon. All other are amateurs who are there just because they have English accents.
    And, yes, HD is a MUST!!!Hopefully before the end of 2009.
    I like the spread of games to the local Fox Sports Net stations, as well as the final being shown on FX.
    All in all, a good move, although I will miss Derek Rae and Seamus as commentators. These guys are good!!!

  2. I am disappointed, largely due to the loss of HD. Seeing the final in HD for each of the next 3 years is frankly not enough. I also hope that ESPN continues its soccer magazine show.

  3. Does Setanta get to cherry-pick games? What is their tie-in? Until now, ESPN usually shows the best English team’s game on ESPN2 on Tuesday and Wednesday, and Barca and Real Madrid the other days on ESPN Classic.

    If Setanta gets to cherry-pick games–the way they get to with the EPL on (I believe) Saturdays, then quality of coverage could go down. Imagine not being able to see Man U or Liverpool or Barca last round. Is that the taste of things to come? Could you look into that Kartik?

    For the economics of fans, ESPN2 is regular cable on Comcast, as is the regional Fox Sports channel. At that level you lose a game a week, apparently. If you go to premium and get FSC, you’ll get more matches–but it’ll cost you.

    As for the quality of coverage of individual matches, I suspect it will skyrocket.

  4. What channel have you guys been watching the Champions League on before? ESPN has only aired the final in HD. Every other match has those gigantic black bars down the sides of the screen.

  5. ESPN is looking for EPL rights and seems to have thrown out the Champions League to spend its money more wisely on EPL?
    I am in favour of this as long as we get the international commentary…
    Yesterday I was watching the ITV (england) coverage online of England/Ukraine game and was struck by how many times there was NO COMMENTS from either commentator as they let the football game get into its flow…when needed they interjected analysis/opinion/coverage of events
    Then last night I was watching ESPN coverage of USA/T&T…the fellas on there NEVER SHUT UP
    Not being a yank, I have tried to give the US coverage a fair crack…but yesterday was the final straw for me…Derek Rae and Adrian Healy are the only two that I would listen to…put those two with Bobby McMahon and FSC has a quality team for pre/half/full time analysis
    Anyone else will dilute the quality

  6. At what point do soccer commentators begin to leave ESPN for FSC similar to what happens when NFL rights change networks?

  7. I had hopes that ESPN might become a competing soccer presence in the US. In general I like the production quality of the Champions League broadcasts and the HD US National Team and MLS broadcasts. But ESPN is clearly rethinking their commitment to soccer in the US.
    My concern with FSC is that it appears to be a shoe-string operation with amateurish production quality on their daily news show, and shockingly abysmal picture quality on the BPL broadcasts. If the addition of Champions League leads to improvements in broadcast image quality and an upgrade in their regular non-game programming, then I am all for it. BTW, Those Sylvania HD ads they are running set my teeth on edge. I’d LOVE to have more HD football. We ain’t getting ANY from our current primary national source for soccer.

  8. ESPN really lost out, especially with the UCL Final to be played on a SATURDAY beginning next year. Forget about the regular weekday UCL matches — TV ratings for those in North America probably won’t be much different than they were on ESPN.

    As for the final? Oh, baby. Because it’s on a SATURDAY, that could be a much bigger deal than people think, if it’s marketed right. ESPN got just over a million viewers for last year’s weekday final. If contested by a pair of top teams, like say Liverpool and Barcelona next year, watch for that ratings number to EXPLODE because it’s on a Saturday.

    Give that a few years of steady growth and it could have a bigger worldwide TV audience than the Superbowl (this is NOT wishful thinking — I’m serious about this). At which point forget FX, it’ll be on the same regular Fox affiliates that show NFL games on Sunday and the World Series and the BCS championship games.

  9. I am interested what choice game the FSN Regionals will get since its in the most homes and for people who watch at work where in a lunch room or a break room that have cable TV but aren’t wired for Digital Cable which FSC is on while FSN if your area is serviced is on your basic cable tier. Also why is FSN only getting a Tuesday Game on the Regional and why not a game on Wednesday as well?

    I really hope that ESPN is going to put their eggs into the Premiership basket by getting the rights to the 7:30am game and 1st choice game on Saturday Mornings at 10am, the Sunday Morning at 11am game, the Monday afternoon game, and 1st choice for midweek games for ESPN 2.

    Leaving Fox and Setanta to fight for the 3 to 4 10am games that are produced and syndicated throughout the world 1 of which that can air live on each station and the other ones used as tape delay content, the noon game, and the early Sunday Morning game.

    I don’t think ESPN has any room for the Saturday noon game because of College Football and Basketball games obviously and would be FSC’s best chance to still air marquee match ups if they are looking to stay relevant in terms of being able to show the big teams.

    I hope FSC receives the 2nd choice 10am game as well but could see Setanta making a hard push for it because of the need to have a team in the Big 4 play as they need subscribers and they won’t get subscribers if they are stuck airing the next level of the league weekly among the group of Tottenham, Villa, Everton, West Ham, and Newcastle games if they manage to survive the drop while Fox grabs the other Big 4 team week in and week out if there are 2 playing at 10am on Saturdays. I don’t really mean that as a slight but for Setanta to have subscribers they need to have 1 of the Big 4 playing week in and week out to keep a subscriber base outside your absolute hardcore that will watch any game presented.

    That said they could do a deal where FSC and Setanta agree to split the 2nd choice game week to week at 10am leaving both sides a chance to get pick which game they want while being at the mercy of the Premiership Schedule Makers on alternate Saturdays. Setanta can continue showing the Championship Games at noon against the Prem on FSC.

    I just think having the prime games at 7:30am, 10am on Saturdays and the 11am game on Sunday’s airing on ESPN 2 is the best thing for the growth of the sport and league as a sports property in the US because of the visibility that the ESPN Machine provides.

    If it doesn’t work out in 3 years and ESPN isn’t happy with the numbers the games are drawing there is Fox and Setanta if they can last that long business wise who will be more than happy to take the Premiership back off the hands of ESPN with a much more visible and popular property than it was 3 years previous just because of how many sports fans there are that who just check ESPN and ESPN 2 to see what is going on in the world of Sports on Saturday and Sunday Mornings.

    I don’t see the sport of soccer blowing up in popularity like UFC where 300k to 1.2M households will pay 50 bucks a month to watch soccer games like UFC is doing but I could see them drawing new fans to the sport that are intrigued by this foreign league that is filled with drama and teams that you can either love or hate depending on which team Joe American Sports Fan decides to support.

    I don’t think Derrick Rae or Tommy Smyth will jump to Fox just because they can both still call international games for ESPN’s English speaking broadcasts that can be called from the studios Bristol for their international markets ESPN still services as I think they call La Liga games together as well as any Champions League rights they get in Asia. Both guys seem settled at their age on the East Coast and i doubt either of them would want to move to LA where FSC is located. That said I could see the duo calling games from the monitors in Bristol like they currently do for the Champions League for the North American Market if ESPN does win the rights to the Premiership.

    I really think that FSC being based in LA and not in New York hurts the production as I think the production would be better if they were based out East because10am is a whole hell of a lot later than 7am is for the early games. I hate that there is no futbol coverage from 5am to 9am on Saturday and Sunday Mornings on FSC. I am an early riser on the weekend and I want some futbol to watch.

    That time frame would be a perfect time to air my idea that the Gaffer brought up to Shane O’Rourke from Setanta who blew the idea out of the water while the Programmer at FSC that Chris talked to last year thought it was an intriguing idea of airing the old EPL Review Show in chronological order. Those recordings are sitting in some vault collecting dust and would be a great primer for new soccer fans that want to get into the history of the league and how we got to where we are today as the program really does give a great run down of what happened as a snapshot of the week that was the Premiership. If they started with the first year of the Premiership that would be amazing but if they choose like 98 or 99 and worked their way to present day that would beat the hell out of airing paid programs like they currently air from 5am to 9am Eastern. That could even be an option for ESPN Classic to do as well if they wanted to get into the history of the Premiership. I am sure TWI who has produced the show for years still have those recordings. They really need to be dusted off if you ask me!

    I am really looking forward to how the Premiership Rights will shake out this next month with 3 different companies playing chess with each other all making moves around the chess board.

    All that said I am really shocked that ESPN did lose the rights to the CL as I figured they were a shoe in to continue broadcasting on ESPN 2, Classic, and Deportes.

    The next 6 weeks or so are going to be fun to see how all this turns out!

  10. kartik, you constantly claim MLS is failing and that they are letting american soccer down, but you are smart enough to know much of mls failure is due to ESPN and its failure to promote the product and build the brand. if mls had this deal with fsc, fsn and fx it would be much better. can they make a similar deal?

  11. your fsc, gol tv, etc are all better than espn.

    footy needs dedicated channels to grow in the states away from the glow of the arrogant and hostile journalists that attack the game for no reason.

  12. God, that phrase gets so overused in this blog.


    There is no need to have off-site commentators calling the football matches from a studio somewhere. If they need to run promos during matches, an on-screen graphic would suffice. But let’s have the Sky/ITV commentary. There is no reason why not.

    If I’m watching the World Series in Europe, I’d rather have Buck and McCarver than a Brit calling the action. Same principle. Please, Fox, give us the direct feed from whichever British network is covering the game.

  13. last comment on just using the local crew is the right idea, it gives the game more of a real feel, more like being there or at least the country it’s played in.

  14. To Juan-John, what are you talking about, any Champions League match between 2 good teams already draws a worldwide TV audience far greater than the pathetic Superbowl can ever dream of! The Champions League final regularly draws a worldwide audience in excess of 1 Billion viewers & that we only increase now that it will be broadcast on a Saturday.

    1. The UEFA CL Final does not draw that many viewers, fool. It only outdrew the Super Bowl once.

      The Liberators Cup Final is just as entertaining, btw

  15. gentelmans date16/09/2009 I pay for besiktas -manchester game 9.95 your country money but your company they dont show us no game please return 9.95 to my credit card back invois # 327485 authorozeytion 376666402 please thankyou GUNGOR AKCELIK

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