The anticipation and excitement of Fox Soccer Channel launching in HD has been building for ten months now ever since the January 2010 date was first announced last April. Soccer fans across the United States have been drooling at the prospect of watching their favorite Premier League team and international football in glorious HD on FSC. However, the roll-out by Fox has been underwhelming to say the least especially in the communications department.
In the past two weeks, there has been little to no new communication from Fox Soccer Channel on its website, in press releases, in the media or on its channel about the latest developments regarding the HD situation. The only recent clues have been Fox Soccer Channel adding the HD logo to its programming beginning last Thursday, a short promo on Fox that mentions that FSC is now in HD, and a brief mention before this past weekend’s Premier League games that the matches were “Available in HD.”
However this has left soccer fans throughout the United States perplexed, feeling bitter and wanting more information. As far as EPL Talk can tell, no cable or satellite provider is actually broadcasting Fox Soccer Channel in HD. So when Fox adds a HD logo and proclaims “Available in HD,” the network is sending a confusing message to soccer fans and have left them scouring the Internet for any details on the latest developments. But there’s little to no news on FoxSoccer.com so viewers have been venting their frustration and asking questions on sites such as BigSoccer and this one, EPL Talk.
Yes, Fox Soccer Channel has fulfilled its promise by broadcasting its programming in HD, where available, but it is falling down on its responsibilities to inform viewers what the latest situation is. Instead of boasting “Available in HD” on its network and its website referring soccer fans to the Fox Soccer Channelfinder (which is practically useless after you’ve used it once), the network should be doing more to answer the questions of its viewers. Why not create a specific section on the FoxSoccer.com website that answers HD-related questions? How about creating an interactive map that shows coverage areas where FSC is being shown in HD by a local cable or satellite provider? Why not create a Fox Soccer Channel-related Twitter account solely to answer HD questions? Yes, for soccer fans in the United States, it is that important.
Fox’s decision to boast that its Premier League matches this past weekend were “available in HD” was a poor choice of words. Factually it’s correct, but if no one is able to actually watch the games in HD, the only thing it does it cause soccer fans to become more frustrated and more anxious.
The other thing that the “available in HD” message causes is expectations that are not managed. When soccer fans read “available in HD,” they expect immediacy whether it’s days or weeks before the words become true. But the sad fact is that there may be some viewers in the United States who will be waiting months if not longer to see Fox Soccer Channel in HD. And how annoying will that be? Sure it’s not Fox’s fault, but it’s building false expectations.
While Fox Soccer Channel has been very quiet recently regarding the launch of HD and their talks with satellite and cable providers, the network hasn’t said a word about Setanta’s announcement six days ago that the broadcaster had agreed terms with Fox Soccer Channel. And it has been very quiet about the March 1 launch of Fox Soccer Plus, the network that will feature much of the programming that Setanta Sports currently carries. I completely understand why Fox may not be willing to announce the details right now until all of the decisions have been made, but the reality is that soccer fans are excited (and impatient at the same time) and they’d rather get some information right now than none. The “radio silence” from Fox Soccer Channel is obviously not working for the soccer community right now. In the day of the Internet, companies need to be more open and quicker to respond.
What are your thoughts about the way that Fox Soccer Channel is handling the news about the availability of HD? Are they doing everything they can or are they not doing enough? Share your feedback in the comments section below.