The English Premier League: Finding Your Match

The final weekend is upon us. And with all the English Premier League fixtures kicking off at the same time, the age-old question arises: where the hell do I watch my match?

Stateside, where I live and watch, three channels will show live games. Villa, Newcastle, Sunderland, Chelsea, Hull and Manchester United fans need not worry. Your matches will be live on Fox Soccer Channel and the two Setantas. If you support West Ham, Middlesbrough, Arsenal, Stoke, Blackburn, West Brom, Man City, Bolton, Fulham or Everton, you’ll need to show a little patience. Your match is on delayed broadcast. Liverpool, Tottenham, Wigan and Portsmouth supporters: time to rent the van and organize that road trip. Setanta Sports Canada is the only one who has what you need. It’s on a delay as well, but you can use the extra time to stock up on fireworks and Cuban cigars.

These aren’t your only choices. Many will huddle around the old laptop and soak up a p2p stream. I can’t officially condone this. Not simply because it undermines the licensing agreements of the big broadcasters, but it looks like crap on my poor old Mac, and the constant wait while the buffering corrects itself is liable to make me toss my laptop out the window.

I myself am fortunate to be living in Boston, surrounded by a million Irish pubs who are willing to open their doors as early as 7am, sharing their satellite feeds along with eggs, toast, black pudding and pints of cold lager.  There are plenty of places to watch around here, and plenty of people crowded in, eager to roar, cheer, cry and moan right there with me.

Like many Americans, I’ve got FSC at home. Setanta has been tougher. For years, it was only available as part of satellite packages. But you could always go to Setanta’s US Website and use their venue finder to find bars and clubs in your area to catch a match.

Things are getting even easier as cable companies have started carrying Setanta. You can now enjoy it in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Arizona via regular cable. Between Fox and Setanta you’ll be able to enjoy more English top flight matches without a satellite package.

Even with the decent Stateside coverage, it is still a matter of which games get shown live. Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United supporters are generally in good stead as the appeal of the “big four” holds sway. The broadcasters see the market for the big clubs and give them precident. The licensing rights can dictate which channel will show which match, but odds are the big four will be shown on one of these channels and probably live. Hull City fans have not enjoyed such consistent viewing luck this season.

In the final weekend, though, these channels have caught on to the undeniable appeal of the relegation battle. Mid-season, Liverpool v. Tottenham wouldn’t likely get the bump from Villa v. Newcastle, but the broadcasters realize seeing who plays in the next UEFA Cup or who secures second place isn’t as exciting for most viewers as watching a struggling side try to keep its head off the chopping block.

With all the advances in technology, I don’t understand why we still have these limitations. We should be able to see whatever match we want, in good quality, via the web.

I hope leagues soon see that offering their own, high-quality broadcasts through the internet would be the best way to slake the thirsts of fans worldwide. Premier League TV. Supporters could pay for a year’s subscription and watch all the EPL they want through their computer without the inconsistencies and poor quality of p2p streaming. Hell, the EPL and other leagues could save all the money they spend on legal battles over streaming, and fight the phenomenon with a better internet product. The leagues would control the rights, and advertisers would buy spots directly from the EPL, et al.. If they want to maintain the deals with the traditional television entities, they can always put a system in place to black out parts of their own direct feeds in areas when that particular match is available through Fox, Setanta, Sky or whoever. I don’t see the need, though. We can get the goods right from the source.

With all the advancements in modern media, supporters shouldn’t have to scour the land for a broadcast of their match. The demand is there. The technology is there. The providers need to make it happen.

7 thoughts on “The English Premier League: Finding Your Match”

  1. Ethan…didn’t realize you are from the boston area. I’ve got to ask…

    Any Pub suggestions? Whats your personal favorite?
    When the hell is Setanta going to expand,its already on Comcast….why only it certain areas of the city. Its driving me mad!

    Okay maybe 2 question and a rant. Anyway, hopefully I’ll run into you at the pub sometime, so you can buy a loyal reader a beer.

  2. Kevin,

    I go to the Phoenix Landing in Cambridge. Also, the Boston Irish Emigrant site lets you click on any match and it will show you which pubs are offering it.

    Setanta claims RCN is carrying in Boston, but I don’t have it in my current package. I may look into it for next season. Otherwise, I’m considering doing Setanta broadband through the web.

  3. Thanks for the response. I have heard good things about the Phoenix Landing, though I haven’t been myself.

    That site is excellent thanks.

    Yeah I have comcast, but don’t live in one of those towns/areas that do have it. I have the broadband as well, it just means I can’t watch it on my huge TV.


  4. I would the Phoenix Landing, it’s been a while but a great place, especially if your a Liverpool fan.

    Setanta Broadband wasn’t the greatest but it got me through this year as I can’t get Setanta on Cox in RI. For a while it was a bit annoying as it was a windows media stream that only played well on Windows PC’s – as a Mac owner this was a bit frustrating, but easily solved with VMWare and a copy of windows xp.

    However, Setanta Broadband has recently upgraded their streaming system. They now use Microsoft Silverlight and Autobahn plugins. Autobahn is a video acceleration technology that seems to work great.
    Now the video is in a wide screen format, it’s so much better than the old stream and looks great on my 42″ plasma. It also plays excellent and full screen on a Mac in Firefox. Additionally it features a DVR now so you can record shows to watch later, which is great for those mid-week games if you’re like me and they start during work hours !

  5. You are totally correct in stating that the Premier League should wake up and start offering official streams to its international audience.

    I’m out here in L.A. where there are a few dedicated bars, but they won’t open at 5am for these games, leaving me with the internet. I would gladly pay for reliable, clean streams.

    And I’m sure several of my fellow fiends forced to watch shady feeds would agree.

    Shearer sure is talking cocky…

  6. @kevin…you should be able to hook up your laptop to your tv through a PC/video cable that is hooked into the back of your tv
    Unless you have an older big screen/DLP model..but Big Screen tv’s over the last 4 years all pretty much have that hook up in the back

  7. I don’t know what cable company carries Setanta in New York. I have Time Warner and no such luck. On another posting on this site, you should read what I and others are saying about Setanta-i that replace Setanta Broadband. Setanta-i for me started off great and you can record. But for the past few weeks, there have been continuous streaming problems, and it’s causing a lot of people to cancel. I am hoping for the best but as is also noted, customer service is limited to emails and not to personalized responses, if anything. Which channels will cover EPL next season? Has there been an announcement?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *