Fox Soccer Channel Wins EPL Rights On US TV for 2010-2013

fox soccer channel Fox Soccer Channel Wins EPL Rights On US TV for 2010 2013Fox Soccer Channel and the Premier League today announced that Fox Sports International has won the bidding for the rights to show the Premier League on US television for the 2010-2013 seasons. Fox has also won the similar rights for Central and South America to its associated company, Fox Sports Latin America.

Commenting on the announcement, David Sternberg, Executive Vice-President and General Manager of Fox Sports International, said: “We are delighted to extend our relationship with the Premier League to 2013. Together with our distribution partners across the Americas, we look forward to bringing our viewers another three action-packed seasons of the world’s most prestigious domestic soccer competition.”

Premier League Chief Executive, Richard Scudamore, said: “Fox Sports has been a long term partner of the Premier League and has always provided excellent coverage for the competition. “I am sure they will continue, together with their affiliates, to showcase all the best match action across a range of programming and technologies for the benefit of our fans across the US, Central and South America.”

The news is surprising in that ESPN didn’t mount a more serious challenge to win the TV rights. Although it is very likely that Fox Sports International will license out some of the rights, as they do now, to ESPN (for the early Saturday and Monday afternoon kickoffs) as well as to Setanta Sports (for two of the Saturday 3pm GMT kickoffs, as well as the early Sunday game and midweek matches).

For Fox Soccer Channel, winning the Premier League TV rights for another three years at the same time they own the Champions League rights is a massive coup for the Los Angeles-based organization.

About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013. View all posts by Christopher Harris →
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39 Responses to Fox Soccer Channel Wins EPL Rights On US TV for 2010-2013

  1. AtlantaPompey says:

    That’s great for FSC. I hope they do continue to license out some of the rights to matches just like they do now. I would even like it if they could license out some of the matches to the Fox Sports Net Regional stations. With such a large network, there is no reason to not see every single match live and in HD.

    • Efrain says:

      @AtlantaPompey

      That would be great if FSC would play the games on the FSN regionals!! Now that I have DirecTv, it was great being able to pick and choose what CL games to watch this week, most in HD! If they kept all the games to themselves, and spread them out over their regionals, anyone with Directv (and the sports pack package) could literally watch every single Premier League game!!

      Gaffer,

      you think there is any chance FSC would do this? They do it for the CL so why not for the premier league? Your thoughts….

      • The Gaffer says:

        Efrain, it’s entirely possible that Fox may try to put some of the Premier League games on Fox Sports Net. I wouldn’t expect that there would be a lot of quality programming on during Saturday or Sunday mornings on those networks.

        But if I was to make an educated guess, Fox’s first step would be to try to sublicense many of the games to ESPN and Setanta Sports to help defray the costs to acquire the Premier League TV rights.

        After that’s done, they could look at showing one or two of the Saturday morning games on Fox Sports Net – but a lot of it depends on the other Fox networks and whether they’d be receptive to showing more soccer than they already are. Plus, there’s the question of whether they will be able to sell advertising for games carried on Fox Sports Net.

        We’ll find out more in the coming days/weeks.

        Cheers,
        The Gaffer

    • Panda says:

      No one seems to notice it, but ESPN is at it’s max when it comes to broadcasting sports. During the Premier League season their focus is tied up too much on college basketball and football and the NFL. They’d never be able to give the Premier League the proper time and attention.

      The only option ESPN had was to make an ESPN3 and have it dedicated to soccer/world sports. In a better economy, I think you would have seen it happen and they’d compete with FSC and Gol and would probably win the viewership battle.

      For now, I think ESPN is satisfied with their situation because they can reap the rewards of soccer flourishing in this country without being fully invested.

      In terms of growing their soccer interest, they’re going to be in a holding pattern for a while. If ESPN UK is as successful as it seems it will be and the World Cup is another ratings bonanza and the economy bounces back you could see ESPN finally make their push and they could easily do it by first acquiring the smaller leagues like the Bundesliga and maybe even the Championship.

  2. ovalball says:

    Presumably, if ESPN sub-licenses, we won’t have the same eleventh hour madness we had this year. Personally, I’m OK with this as long as FSC goes HD as scheduled. Let’s face it, Fox is *in* to soccer, while ESPN still seems to be thinking about it. Maybe they’re not too impressed by the ratings so far. Who knows?

    If ESPN doesn’t sub-license again then this is a setback for the game in general, simply from the channel/audience availability standpoint. However, there’s lots of time between now and then.

    • The Gaffer says:

      Less eleventh hour madness, indeed Ovalball. But based on the viewing figures ESPN has seen so far — and I’m sure Fox’s willingness to help subsidize the costs of acquiring the rights for the next three seasons, I believe ESPN will be a player in the Premier League.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

  3. man99utd says:

    This is huge. I would guess the upcoming HD helped. All in all I like FSC’s coverage. I wish they would spend a little more on their production studio. More importantly I hope they do not sublet the big matches out to ESPN and Setanta. Maybe its time for a FSC2 (HD of course).

  4. man99utd says:

    Gaffer,

    I hate to follow-up so soon, but…When do the MLS rights go up for sell again? If FSC had the EPL, CL, and MLS would it enable them to become a part of the basic cable package?

  5. Mat says:

    Whatever — if it’s in HD, I’ll watch it. I make a point of watching the ESPN matches because of the HD.

  6. Mat says:

    Get that?

    H f’n D!

  7. Martin says:

    Screw FSC and their stone age non-HD broadcasts!!

    Soccer on FSC (and GOLTV, I guess) remains the only thing on TV that I will watch in non-HD, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. If FSC goes HD, channel 619 suddenly gets A LOT more viewing time in my house.

    Based on past experience with when networks say they’ll have HD, and when they actually deliver HD, I’d say its a longshot they deliver on their promise of January 2010. Of course, since they’re already way behind every other channel that has HD (almost all of them) and has had it for years now, maybe they have a chance. Ya got a little over 2 months. Step it up!! And ya better not up your subscription rates for something you should’ve had for the past 2 years…

  8. Efrain says:

    @AtlantaPompey

    That would be great if FSC would play the games on the FSN regionals!! Now that I have DirecTv, it was great being able to pick and choose what CL games to watch this week, most in HD! If they kept all the games to themselves, and spread them out over their regionals, anyone with Directv (and the sports pack package) could literally watch every single Premier League game!!

    Gaffer,

    you think there is any chance FSC would do this? They do it for the CL so why not for the premier league? Your thoughts….

    • AtlantaPompey says:

      Pompey-Spurs was on Fox Sports Espanol last weekend. I didn’t understand a word of it, but was glad to watch the match live. I wonder if that is the only channel willing to show a live match, or if other FSN regional networks would be willing? While I’ve seen midweek replays of EPL matches on other FSN networks, I have not seen any others live before this past weekend. Has anyone else?

  9. Bright says:

    Good for FSC. Bad for the growth of the game in the U.S. Until FSC is offered on lower-tier satellite and cable packages fewer people will continue to see the games.

    For instance, look what happened in the change from ESPN to Fox for Champions League. I would like to see the ratings of CL on ESPN compared to Fox. Fox shows only one game a week on the regionals when the CL is in session and keep the rest for FSC. There seems to be a point of diminishing returns for Fox if they keep all the games on FSC. (I’ll leave DirectTV out of this equation since it’s but a fraction of the viewership.) They have the air time on their family of channels. For instance, do the reruns of Bernie Mac on FX get more viewers than a CL game? Even if Bernie Mac (I’m not being facetious, Bernie Mac was being aired on FX during the games today) had higher ratings wouldn’t you use that as an introduction into world-class football to entice people to buy a higher tier for FSC? It seems the cross-promotion would be worth it alone. (On another note, it seems FSC doesn’t do nearly enough to promote itself during the CL games airing on the regional channels.)

    I only hope that FSC and ESPN have an agreement to farm out more of the EPL games because it seems the CL has had limited exposure after Fox bought the rights and I would hate to see that happen with the EPL. (The Gaffer has already done the number crunching and FSC doesn’t get the numbers ESPN2 does.)

    Didn’t mean to go on and I have no idea how these things work. Just wanted to put it up for general discussion.

    • Berkeley-B says:

      I haven’t seen a single Champions League game this season. My place at here at university doesn’t have FSC and there is no free broadband option… ugh. I miss ESPN 360s coverage :(

  10. Mike says:

    I don’t know how realistic this is, but I would like to see FSC remove Setanta from the equation and run those games on the regional FSNs.

    • Nick says:

      I agree about removing Setanta from the equation. I have Comcast and they don’t offer the channel on any of their packages, and from what I’ve heard most cable subscribers do not have the option to purchase a package with Setanta in it. Until they increase the availability of the channel they should keep the games within the Fox and ESPN family.

      • The Gaffer says:

        Remove Setanta and you can say goodbye to mid-week Premier League matches as well as early Sunday kickoffs and the 2-3 games they show on Saturdays. Losing Setanta would be the worst thing for Premier League soccer fans in the United States because Fox and ESPN don’t have the network channels to show all the games. Setanta has two channels.

        Setanta is slowly but surely being added to more cable and satellite providers and has been making good progress with Comcast especially. See http://www.setanta.com/us/availability-by-state/ for more details.

        Cheers,
        The Gaffer

        • Ivan says:

          Agreed, Gaffer. Setanta, w/ Setanta Extra on Ch-622, have been very good for football fans in the US. I wouldn’t want to lose them, and I don’t mind paying $15/month. I just wish they hadn’t cancelled the Friday Football Show and the Monday night show. That was quality analysis. Too bad Setanta UK went caput…

  11. CFTV says:

    Personally, I hope in this next go round that FSC either decides to keep the 10am 1st choice game on Saturday or that ESPN 2 outbids Setanta for that game and does a doubleheader on Saturday Morning. Same thing with the Sunday Morning 8:30am game where I rather see the game on FSC or ESPN 2 than on Setanta. I have no problem if Setanta decides to keep a combo of the 3rd, 4th, or 5th, or 6th choice game at 10am as well as 2nd choice mid week games as the 1st choice game should be on FSC, the Regionals, or ESPN 2 but its ridiculous to have the top games of the week in those time periods broadcast to the least amount of perspective audience. Until Setanta is in more homes and drops their expensive pricing package they will continue to be a small potatoes operation that will never be more than a minor niche channel that general American sports fan will not ever of heard of them or what they have to offer.

    And we are lucky to live in the country with the most amount of futbol matches on TV and the interwebs!

  12. eplnfl says:

    Well good for FSC and for the US soccer fan. You would have to think that FSC was left to make the bid with knowledge by all involved that ESPN would continue to be a player in EPL TV rigths through the sub-license.

    What maybe of greater long run interest is if any online rights went along with the deal. Will either FSC or ESPN be able to have the games available online via a ESPN 360 type of service?

    We can only hope that the long term contract will allow for FSC to continue with production improvements to their broadcasts to their EPL and Cl coverage. I think we all know and appreciate how dedicated to the game the FSC staff is. Yet, all the effort in the world can not overcome a poor production. The Gaffer has commented on the poor quality of the commentary of the CL games. When we see the ESPN production of the Monday night EPL games we see the full potential of a broadcaster to put you in the stadium while sitting in you living room an ocean away.

    Hopefully, with rights deal assured FSC can move ahead with confidence to give the viewer the best broadcast possible.

  13. RIP says:

    I think maintain the status quo is good for premier league fans. I wonder if FSC would sublicense a 10 ET game so it will be possible that there could be 4 games on at that time, ESPN, FSC, Setanta and Setanta Xtra. That would be great news for EPL fans. Of course they should just do a “Total” Premier League package so we can get every game and in HD.

  14. FSC actually do a decent job, and thankfully they made sure that idiot Steven Cohen is no longer polluting their channel. I have only been able to watch FSC when I had some of the USA channels (In Canada, and my current provider doesn’t have them listed). They do seem to farm the games out to other channels, so hopefully I don’t miss any of the games I want to see.

  15. Danimal says:

    I think FSC expects to sublicense, but Gol TV was probably the only other bidder.

    Setanta is evidently keeping up payments on its piece of the Champions League package, but its meek yielding of half the EPL sublicense back to FSC (and subsequently to ESPN) tells you they couldn’t bid. ESPN can’t really fit in that much EPL since they have college football/b-ball, NBA, and NASCAR on weekends, so they are probably content to see what FSC will offer and at what price.

    Only the 11 am Sunday game and 1-2 live games on Saturday (plus another on tape) is really essential for FSC at this point to drive viewership.

    They did get the CL specifically in hopes of getting to a “digital basic” tier nationally like MLB Network, The Golf Channel, and Versus (although the latter two get help from having Comcast as owner).

    Lastly, MLS and FSC/FSE have a contract through 2010. FSC will definitely broadcast MLS in HD in 2010, assuming the HD feed launches as planned. As The Gaffer noted, ESPN and Univision have deals with MLS through 2014.

  16. Leeboy says:

    You won’t all the games in HD. Only matches shown live in the UK are shot in HD – usually every match that is moved from a 3pm (10am US) Saturday or Sunday kick-off time. I’m sure they’ll all go HD eventually. Gaffer, any chance you could stick this point in an FAQ or something?

    • The Gaffer says:

      Good question. Let me see what I can find out.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • RedMD says:

        Gaffer,

        If ESPN didnt put up a serious bid like we all expected, what is the possibility that they only subletted matches this season as an ongoing advert for their world cup coverage this summer, and then afterward just plan to “get out of the game,” so to speak?

        • The Gaffer says:

          I don’t think so, RedMD. They lost the Champions League, and the acquisition of the Premier League games was definitely a big win for ESPN. Yep, the EPL programming is the perfect programming to promote their World Cup coverage. But I feel they’re in it for the long run even beyond WC 2010.

          Cheers,
          The Gaffer

  17. AJ says:

    Well, for me this means a couple things:

    1: Piss poor picture quality taped-delayed games on my FSN regional a few days later.
    2: Soccer won’t grow in this country
    3: Just a matter of time before Setanta finally goes under we get rid of them
    4: Someone mentioned lower league rights for ESPN. I like that. Try This:

    You soccer coverage on ESPN
    Saturday Morning (Noon kick-offs) on ESPN: EPL
    Later time on (3:00 KOs) ESPN 2: Championship
    Sunday Morning ESPN: La Liga
    Later on ESPN 2: Championship
    ABC in the Afteroon (other than NASCAR weekends): EPL

    That’s how you do it. I just would hope that FSC doesn’t start to run out of money forking out for CL & EPL every year.

    • nothap'n says:

      That could only come close to working if there was an ESPN3. ESPN2 or ABC will not even imagine removing college football or basketball to show EPL games, let alone any Championship games.

      ESPN just does not have the space to add any additional sports or programming. Ask any Nascar fan and they will vent about the frustration they deal with in having their programming shuffled all over the place when a college football game runs long. That was before they added a La Liga game and two EPL games per usual week.

      ABC only shows Nascar for about two months on nine Sundays of the year, but they mainly focus on college football/basketball on Saturdays.

      As of now, I can watch all eight Champions League games per day and most Europa League games on DirecTV and between FSC/Setanta/ESPN we have 9 out of 10 EPL games being shown live this weekend.

      Other than picture quality, which FSC is working on, I don’t know how much we can really complain.

      Honestly, in the US we can only watch about 5 out of 15 NFL games per week, maybe 3 out of 15 MLB games per day, or 1-2 out of 15 NBA/NHL games per day. In our own country!

      Yet we get 9 out of 10 games from England…amazing we complain all that much.

      • The Gaffer says:

        I don’t see Fox Soccer Channel starting up a FSC2 for many years. They need to make FSC profitable first.

        Cheers,
        The Gaffer

        • nothap'n says:

          Gaffer, how much does it cost Setanta to run Setanta Xtra for the Saturday game each week? I wondered why Fox Soccer Channel also couldn’t have an Xtra-like channel, where, for example, they could show the Burnley-Wigan game live instead of on delay and all 10 EPL games could be shown live this weekend.

          I wondered because it’s not like they need to fill programming or gather advertising for anything other than that 2-hour period on Saturday.

          • The Gaffer says:

            Nothap’n, not sure how much it costs Setanta to run Setanta Xtra, but I do know that Setanta has offered Xtra to other satellite providers (and ITVN, RIP) in the past, but DirecTV has been the only ones to take up the offer.

            As for Fox, again, I think they’re concentrating on how they can make a profit from the first channel before they think about adding another one.

            Cheers,
            The Gaffer

        • nothap'n says:

          Thanks Gaffer, not a huge deal about an extra Fox Soccer Channel, since it would mainly require me to get an additional TV to try and watch 4 games at once on some Saturdays. Also, if the Wigan-Burnley type games aren’t shown live I think most of us can live and if we really need to watch it, shouldn’t mind watching in on delay anyways.

          My main point from before was more about ESPN not having the space to add much more of the Premier League. The early morning Saturday and the Monday afternoon games seem like all they can handle. I guess I could see them being able to also add an early Sunday game, but that’s about it. At most, they could always have a Saturday double-header if they did the really early Saturday game followed by a 10am EST game, but I don’t think they have the interest in showing that much football to be honest.

  18. Leeboy says:

    What an insight! Thanks dad

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