Yesterday, the Premier League announced which December matches have had their kickoff times rescheduled so they can be shown on television worldwide. Even though Fox Soccer Channel, Setanta Sports and ESPN haven’t announced which games they’ll show for that month, I’ve been able to deduce which games will be shown on US television by matching up the network’s schedules with when the games are shown.
Note that there are still several timeslots where I don’t yet know which clubs will be featured, but I have most of it figured out on the updated Premier League TV schedule for residents of the United States.
Browsing through the updated TV schedule for the rest of the year, I thought it would be interesting to see which TV networks are the biggest winners and losers in terms of which teams will be broadcast.
Here are my findings:
- ESPN have really been unfortunate so far this season that the timeslot for the early Saturday kickoff no longer features high-profile games. Last season, the Liverpool derby, Manchester United against Liverpool and countless other high-profile games were played at that time. This season, Man United — the team that would draw the highest TV ratings — hasn’t had one Saturday early kickoff yet.
- Don’t forget that ESPN also owns the rights to the Monday kick-offs for this season. Compared to previous seasons, the level of talent available on Monday nights has been hit or miss. Same this season.
- Looking ahead between now and the end of December, here are the high-profile games that we know will be televised by ESPN: Arsenal v Tottenham (early Saturday kickoff, October 31) and Liverpool v Manchester City (early Saturday kickoff, November 21). And that’s really it. Just two. Of course, once the final TV schedules are confirmed for US residents, we’ll know if ESPN has picked up any other big matches.
Fox Soccer Channel
- Fox Soccer Channel has been able to hold on to the crown jewel of Premier League TV timeslots which is the Sunday 11am ET/4pm GMT game.
- Fox has also been blessed by a turn in fortune this season. In previous seasons, the late Saturday kickoff (12:30pm ET/5:30pm GMT) was usually a dour affair featuring so-so teams. This year, the timeslot has been rejuvenated with several delightful encounters.
- As a result, here are the big games between now and the end of December that the network will feature: Chelsea v Man United (Sunday, 11am ET, November 8), Man United v Everton (Saturday, 12:30pm ET, November 21), Arsenal v Chelsea (Sunday, 11am ET, November 29), Man City v Chelsea (Saturday, 12:30pm ET, December 5) and Liverpool v Arsenal (Sunday, 11am ET, December 13). ESPN has two big matches. Fox Soccer Channel has five.
- Historically speaking, at least over the past 2-3 years, Setanta has had a larger quantity of the juiciest matches mainly because they had more coverage than Fox Soccer Channel. This season, though, they lost the early Saturday morning and Monday afternoon timeslot to ESPN. At the time, it seemed like a big loss, but judging by the reduced number of high-profile matches in those two timeslots, maybe it wasn’t such a loss at all?
- Here are Setanta’s big matches between now and the end of December: Liverpool v Man United (Sunday, 10am ET, October 25) and Everton v Liverpool (Sunday, 8:30am ET, November 29). So, Setanta has two big matches. ESPN also has two, but Fox has five.
The Premier League hasn’t announced the TV times for January through May of the season, but based on now through the end of December, Fox Soccer Channel will be the best of the three destinations to visit, followed by Setanta Sports and then ESPN. In reality, though, it’s imperative that English football supporters in the United States subscribe to all three to watch the best of the Premier League.
And remember, the best of the Premier League isn’t always matches between the big four or cross-town derbies. We’ve seen plenty of exciting games this season such as Sunderland against Wolves, Man City versus Arsenal, the Manchester derby and Aston Villa against Wigan, to name a few.