I had a discussion last week with a veteran of the soccer television industry, and I asked him whether soccer schedules these days were more or less confusing than how they used to be five or even 10 years ago. His response was a laugh followed by a definitive answer. Things are much more complicated now.
For soccer fans in the United States, the past weekend and the next few days are going to be a little haywire. Not that we’re complaining at the sheer amount of soccer available on U.S. television, but trying to keep on top of it is becoming quite a chore. Consider the fact that to watch the majority of games from the top European leagues and the Champions League qualifying rounds, you need a “tool belt” consisting of ESPN2, Fox Soccer Channel, Setanta Sports, FSN, Fox Sports en Espanol, Setanta Xtra, GolTV, DirecTV (for extra matches) as well as Setanta-i, UEFA.com, ESPN360 and FoxSoccer.tv. That’s a total of 12 different possibilities.
A Tivo or DVR will definitely help, but it’s not going to solve all of your problems. For example, my Comcast DVR still shows 3-4 different hunting and fishing programs in the span of time of the Wigan against Manchester United game that’s scheduled this Saturday. And a Tivo or DVR is not going to help you with ESPN360, Setanta-i or FoxSoccer.tv, although those channels do offer recording or replay abilities.
And then again, who has time to watch all of these games anyway? By Fox acquiring the rights to the Champions League and offering all of the games in one fashion or another, we’ve finally reached a point in our soccer watching experience where we have to pick and choose what we want to see.
The other challenge is that there are few places to go where you can get all of the soccer schedule news in one place. LiveSoccerTV.com definitely helps as does this site (and the comments added by you the readers).
We’ve reached the peak of soccer in the United States where we literally need a spreadsheet in front of us to track down who will be showing which games. Some of the soccer TV networks in the United States need to do a better job at sharing their schedules in a more timely fashion, but in their defense, the schedules sometimes aren’t firmed up until days before a game.
Does anyone have any tips or suggestions of how to keep track of all of the games without going insane? Please post them below.