Fox Soccer Plus Could Have a PR Problem

As the Setanta era of soccer broadcasting in America comes to a close, and Fox Soccer Plus looks to fill in its spot, the good people at Newscorp will have to wrestle with one important difference between Setanta and Fox Soccer – the Fox brand. Will consumers spend money for a stand-alone Fox channel that is not so distinct from the myriad of other Fox offerings?

I am a U-Verse customer and subscribe to the hefty U450 package which gives me a total of 31 Fox channels. That package includes FX, Fox News, Fox Business, Fox Reality, Fox Sports en Espanol, a whole slew of FSN stations, a bunch of High Def channels, and, of course, Fox Soccer Channel. In fact, every single current Fox offering is available to me under the U450 umbrella. When Fox Soccer Plus is added into the U-Verse line-up, it will be the only stand-alone Fox product that I would have to purchase as a separate channel.

Fox Soccer Plus will have a difficult challenge in getting people to both feel good about their product and buy it. To the consumer, the logical question is going to be why do I have to pay for Fox Soccer Plus when FSC is already part of my package? My package gives me both ESPN and ESPN2. I get both Fox Sports West and Fox Sports West 2. Why don’t I get both Fox soccer channels in my package?

Furthermore, there is a very thin line that Fox has to walk in allocating which games go on which channels. If viewers are continually frustrated by seeing Stoke v Bolton or CSKA Moscow v Sevilla on FSC while Fox Soccer Plus gets Manchester United v Liverpool or Chelsea v Inter, there are going to be some angry fans. Truthfully, Fox probably cannot continually do that because they have advertising to sell and sponsors to make happy on FSC. However, every good game that is only available on the premium station is going to be a paper cut in the finger of people who don’t understand why that game is not on their normal sports package.

This is a problem Setanta never had. There are probably only a handful of viewers who realized that Setanta’s games were shown under a Fox license, so people never made the connection that it was Fox deciding which games were part of the sports package and which were only available on the premium channel. Fans who missed a big match because they did not subscribe to Setanta may have felt the loss of the game, but understood it was because they did not pay for it. Now, if they miss a big ManU or Arsenal game that is shown on Fox Soccer Plus, they will be pissed at Fox for reserving it for their “first class” fliers while the rest of us are watching Wigan play in the mud sitting in coach.

Finally, throughout most of Setanta’s tenure, their only competition for EPL games was FSC. Now, with ESPN in the mix and planning to double their EPL coverage next year, the case for Fox Soccer Plus is a lot less compelling. Between FSC and ESPN2, the average viewer will already have access to about half the EPL games. Adding the premium station for another couple of games seems like a bigger extravagance. If Fox decides to flavor the Fox Soccer Plus stew with more original programming, they risk angering viewers who wonder why FSC does not have access to that type of material too.

Of course, if you are a rugby fan or really want to follow the Coca-Cola Championship League, Fox Soccer Plus may make more sense. However, those fans are in the distinct minority of American consumers of European sports. It is the EPL that makes the FSC go, and it will be the EPL that will drive subscribers to Fox Soccer Plus.

I was never a subscriber to Setanta. As I was plunking down about $100 for over 500 channels, it seemed silly to spend $15 for just one more. Similarly, I am also going to hold back on Fox Soccer Plus. Fox will have a big challenge trying to convince me, and the rest of the soccer fans out there, that it is worth it to spend money on the premium channel without relegating the FSC brand, in which they have heavily invested, to a second class status.

59 thoughts on “Fox Soccer Plus Could Have a PR Problem”

  1. Who the hell would pay 15$ for one channel!!???
    Seriously, i know that you love the game and all, but 15 dollars?!!
    FS+ will fail.

    1. Those who watch 2 or more games every week on Setanta. They will come to the conclusion that each game costs them $1.50, or about 75 cents per hour of football entertainment.
      I cannot think of a cheaper form of entertainment.

  2. Is it set in stone that FS+ will only be available if you pay specifically for that channel? Or is there a chance a cable company can pick it up and put it as part of the sports package? I have never had the option of getting Setanta on any cable company I have had over the last few years. I am pretty sure I would spend the extra $15 as I am a premier league fanatic. Would be doubly nice if it just became part of the digital sports package that I already have.

  3. i understand some can afford it, but if your paying over 100$ for satellite and HD too, forget it, ill just look for those games on FS+ through some live stream on the internet…
    im pretty sure i speak for everybody else. except those 65,000 that are willing to pay already.

  4. They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same over and over again hoping for different result.

    Currently, all Fox channels enjoy a dual revenue stream. However, this will no longer be the case with the premium channel, unless their idea of premium is advertising and high subscriptions. Which can happen, and Honestly, it is better than the current format they have, Plus is in HD.

    The problem with this model is that tops you are not going to get more than 500K subs, and advertising is all about eyeballs. You see, as a sponsor, I want to put my money where I am going to get the biggest bang for my buck. This is not golf we are talking about here. This is a sports for the masses. And in order to make this new channel a must have channel, well you will have to now take the best matches from the sister station and put in on the premium one. So now sponsors are confronted with a new business reality that may no longer met their demands. On the negotiation table all is possible, but I guarantee you that all this does is devaluated FSC and Fox en espanol.

    And this is the scenario Fox just walk in to. In order to justify the $15 premium charge, they will have to show over 60 percent of the good matches on their premium channel.

    Now as one of the FSC sponsors, I would want to put my money were the big eyeballs are at, and I am not sure if is a good idea to advertise on a premium channel.

    So, I am all for capitalism, but someone did not think this through.

    Good luck to Fox, but remember, that a couple of years back, the best EPL games were on PPV, and we all know how that work out. Setanta just close for business due to lack of subs and heavy sub-licenses fees.

    But guess what, Rupper is going to make this work, because he always does.

    Good luck with that.

    1. Setanta was mostly advertising free — there were a few spots for USA Rugby and stuff, but no “real” ads since the audience was too tiny for them to sell. So Setanta just filled the breaks with schedule teasers, logo spots, and during rugby matches there were some nice highlight capsules from past Rugby World Cups. Anything though was better than the Big 10 network which I’ve seen take commercial breaks in the middle of a half and skip ahead when they get back.

      1. I’m assuming that if FSC+ is a premium channel costing $15/month, it’ll be commercial-free like Setanta. Hell, it had BETTER be. That’s why you pay the extra $$$. All the premium movie channels — Showtime, HBO, etc. — are commercial-free, aren’t they?

  5. Love Setanta, going to miss it. That said I was happy to see that FS+ will carry the Rugby
    As far as paying $15 a month, that’s a steal! especially if you record with a DVR. You couldn’t buy a pint and a prawn buttie for that in the smoke!

    1. That’s my justification for it as well. For $15, I get every match they show all month. If I went to the pub to watch one Pompey match, I would spent that easily. Two matches? I would spend at least twice the amount I would spend on subscribing to the channel.

      With a DVR, I’m getting 15-20 matches per month that I would watch and can pick and choose to watch them when I want to rather than just when they are being shown.

    2. I was able to get the Setanta-i/PPV deal for $149/yr. I have my computer hooked up to my 47″ LCD. I had nothing to complain about. The broadcasts looked great full screen @16:9. Either way, I’ll probably pickup FS+ for the rugby. But I do think it is a step down compared to the deal I could get with Setanta.

  6. If FSC+ is only going to replace Setanta I believe that Fox is going to have a big problem with getting this channel on cable networks. Time Warner never carried Setanta. Not even having the option for the channel and missing games really isn’t ideal anymore. I believe for this to work for FSC they need to make the channel available across all cable and satellite providers.

  7. ESPN UK is a standalone channel, and costs around £9 per month, or less if you get Sky Sports. They don’t have first pick EPL matches, and only show 46 per season, but they also show SPL, Serie A, Bundesliga, UFC, French Top 14, Russian Premier League, UFC etc. The business model works in the UK, but over here sports channels are premium like HBO in the States. A package with Sky Sports is around £34 per month

    1. I don’t know how long ago that was but I currently pay £68 for my Sky package which does include HD but not ESPN UK.
      I will not pay another £10 for ESPN because they only get 1 Prem Game per week and I don’t think it’s worth it.

    2. That deal has been working out for us as ESPN360 has been broadcasting Series A, Bundesliga, and Spanish Premiere League as well. I also enjoy catching an EPL match on the weekends with my morning cup of coffee (it’s a great way to start the day :)

  8. If DirecTv actually picks this up in HD, then I have no problem paying the $15. I paid for Setanta for a year at that cost, but dropped it this season as there was always another match to watch elsewhere for the most part.

  9. I agree. I will gladly pay 15 a month if it means getting 3 or 4 games I watch. If the Championship is thrown it, then its a no brainer for me. I would love to see the Portuguese league. That would be the cherry.

  10. My My we all have short memories. Ive lived in the states 20 years and it was only a short while ago that u had to pay $20 just for the big game on sunday,plus extra for all the cup matches. ive had sentanta for a couple of years & its been brilliant, along with FSC sat mornings have been heaven watching 4-5 live games. We all remember years ago having to go to your local pub on sat-sun to view games,with beers and brekki it cost a fortune(but what great times!!) so if your a football nut like me and have lived here any length of time yuor paying less now to watch games (with lots more choice)than u were 10 years ago.

  11. $15 a month is an absolute steal when you compare how much it would cost to actually go to these games. If it is in HD, I will be 100% for sure getting it. If not in HD, I will have to think about perhaps streaming the games online instead.

  12. All Fox need to do is allow it to be added to the Sports and Entertainment pack or whatever variants there are – that way we can all see the channel and not have to pay premium costs. Our cable bill is high enough without adding $15 for just one channel no matter what is on it. Like people say there are enough free soccer games out there to keep us occupied. I don’t want to go down the British route where Fox turns into Sky and all games are on premium channels. Fox Soccer + is the first rung on a slippery ladder – believe me Fox would like nothing more than to do the Sky Sports route – turn sport into premium channels like we have to pay for the movie channels – no thank you.

    1. I’d like to see FS+ in the Comcast sports pack even if that goes up from the current $5/mo. It’s worth it for FSC and the occasional matches on ESPN Classic and Gol TV, and then there’s ESPNU and FCS, but it’s full of filler like TVG (horse racing!) and outdoor stuff.

      We could be moving in that direction eventually, but we wouldn’t see it for a while because rights contracts are generally multi-year. I don’t know how lucrative Sunday Ticket on DirectTV is for the NFL, but if they saw $30/mo premium channel on the cable and dish operators as being more profitable than selling rights to CBS and FOX I’m sure they’d do it.

  13. I wonder if the sat/cable providers pushed Fox in the direction of the premium channel. It seems like FiOS was happy just to replace Setanta with FS+ without much publicity. I think $15 isn’t a bad price if we eventually get HD but they need to add another league. I don’t think English Football and Serie A will be enough programming for them to attract viewers.

  14. Being a football and rugby fan, Setanta was awesome and cheap for $15/month. I recorded several rugby matches a week from around the world all year long. It also allowed me to see nearly every MCFC match (league and cup). With the new sports line up and the loss of all southern hemisphere rugby (the most entertaining in teh world, imo), I’m going to have a hard time ponying up the $15.

  15. I will miss Dempsey and Dolan. I paid for Setanta and do not have FSC. Now I am going to pay 14.99 for half the games and no SPL. I have watched some of the FSC produced shows and they are dire! Fox football phone in FM- FSC is shopping most mornings. FSC+ better show sky sports news and not be shopping in HD. If more of that is what I can look forward to it will be the pub and ESPN for me.

  16. 180 dollars / 120 pounds to see 1 year of all his live football / rugby in the USA is not bad, yes we want everything free but still when compared to nothing or high PPV rates for one game a month a few years ago – this is for me a good deal. Will FSC+ have adverts? will they show more half time analysis, I remember a while ago we got a game with a live feed from SKY same announcers and cool graphics example – speed of the ball traveled to when it hit the net – I would like to see more of this, I don’t know the costs/regulations in doing this. Also hopefully they will be able to show more off season friendly games as well.

  17. Another author who is very uneducated when it comes to the amount of rugby fans in this country. The numbers of registered players (let alone unregisterd fans) is much higher than most people think and I’ve been to several pubs that will forgo showing a soccer match in favor of rugby. I just wish EPLTalk would stop commenting on rugby and belittling it and stick with a sport that everyone else belittles (I love both sports, but soccer fans get pissy when people who don’t like it rip their sport, so try being in my shoes).

    That being said, would everyone been a little more happy paying $15 per month if Fox went with the name “Fox Sports Premium” or “Fox Sports Europe”???

    1. Jason-

      In no way was I trying to slight rugby, and I am sorry if you got that impression. In fact, I said that if you are a rugby fan, as opposed to a soccer fan, buying FS+ may make sense.

    2. Jason, relax a little bit. This is, after all, EPLTalk. I too am a rugby fan, but am under no delusions about the popularity of the sport here in the U.S.

      At least if I tell people I’m a soccer fan they may nod their heads. If I mention rugby they just get glassy eyed. “Is that one of them there furrin sports?”

      I said elsewhere today that Wayne Rooney could walk through my town unrecognized, but I guarantee you Jonny Wilkinson and Dan Carter together could get clear across the state!

  18. I subscribed to Setanta because I support Liverpool (who seemed always to be on Setanta last year and the year before) and I like Australian Rules Football. There’s no question it was an extravagance, though, and with Fox Soccer + not picking up AFL and not likely to be as Liverpool-centric, I suspect I’ll drop my subscription soon.

  19. 95% of the time at home. If i’m up for it, i’ll go to Fado’s Irish Pub in Atlanta to watch it. It’s always fun to be around people who wear footy kits watching the beautiful game.

  20. Always difficult when you have people talking about things that they have NO idea about.

    Setanta had FIRST choice of the 1000am matches, and always has had that since the new deal went into place. Sky 4 will play at 1000am on Saturday but usually not against each other! FSP will carry that over to it’s new base. IN the US, ESPN has the early SAturday game and the Monday game. FSC has a 1000am and the late Saturday kickoff. In addition, they also will provide delayed telecasts by the truckloads. For $3.50 a week you can see all the footie you need to! It’s $3.50 a week! And if you unsubscribe in the close season and pre season it’s a $154.00 dollars a year. You’re kidding right?

  21. I have lived without Setanta because Cablevision wont carry it. I got Setanta-i for the first time at the beginning of the season and liked it alot, but I will just go to the pub for the matches that are on FS+. I will a little annoyed that I can’t TiVo the games when I can’t make it to the pub.

  22. Is it so far fetched to think that the Fox Plus we see on Monday will not be the Fox Plus we see on September 1? That Setanta going bust in January (instead of June) accelerated Fox’s plans to offer this channel properly for next season? that Fox isn’t trying to permanently replicate the failed Setanta business model?

  23. The problem for me is by comparsion. For $5 a month (Comcast) I get FSC, GolTv, NFL Network, the regional Fox Sports Network, and a few other sport channels. I only care about FSC, FSN and GOLTv. I never had access to Setanta, but can’t see paying $15 to watch less football than I can see on FSC and GOLTv. I realise its all a matter of opinion, but that’s 3 times the money for 1/2 football.

  24. I toyed with getting Setanta last year when it began being offered in Boston on Comcast. After thinking I just couldn’t justify it – not when you can get the Sports package with Fox Soccer, GolTV, NFL Network (in HD), MLB Network (in HD), Big Ten Network (in HD), NFL Red Zone (in HD), Versus and a handful of other channels for $7 a month total.

    With that said you’d have to think Fox Soccer Plus will follow the Setanta model until this summer, at which time Fox Soccer will figure out what it wants to do with the channel. I mean you have to wonder about the business strategy of Setanta when it just had a firesale – perhaps a subscription based service isn’t the way to go.

  25. For the price of a few Cheese Burgers people are moaning about $15 a month for Setanta. This is gonna be a sad week for soccer fans in the US.

  26. I have had Setanta ever since it first became available on DirecTV, and I got it mainly for the rugby. I like the EPL, but not as much as I like the Guinness Premiership, Heineken Cup, Magner’s League, and 6 Nations. I am very worried that Fox Soccer Plus is not going to going broadcast as much rugby as Setanta did. I am, on the other hand, very excited about being able to see, for the first in the U.S., European and international rugby in HD, though I’m not sure that’s a guarantee with DirecTV. Will be waiting anxiously to see after March 1st.

  27. I am paying $15 for Setanta Sports for the past 1 year and I think it make sense. I am pretty happy of what I am getting on Steatnta. If you are a big soccer fan like me for example $15 is fine………….Like the guy who wrote the material. He has a U450 and does not want to pay $15 for FSC+, but at the same time paying more for HBO and other channels. I guess is up to priorities.

  28. $15 a month to make sure I don’t miss any Manchester United games or any other big games is not a big deal to me. If you are a fan of the game you should pay the money and stop whining about it. You don’t have any other option.

  29. i’m a big rugby fan and soccer fan,15buck a month is stubid ,i pay 19 99 for setanta they show more live games,this fox soccer plus channel is suk for the next 3 month,so many many D as for delay,so 15buck a month aye,stick it up your ahem fox

  30. i dont think they will show rugby in HD only few soccer games hand picked to show HD,sad that there no more rugby spuer 14 and tri show alot replay and delay which i will canel my dishnetwork sub

  31. Some good points but… $100 for 500 channels? You really think so? Look, you pay for what you watch, not what you don’t watch. Do you watch HSN? QVC? Oxygen? SOAPnet? JCTV? The Word Network? BET Gospel? VH1 Classic? Wealth TV? Ooh, I know, the Soundtrack Channel? Probably not, so right now you really pay $100 for 490 channels… oh wait, there’s more: SiTV? Nickelodeon? Noggin? Cartoon Network? Boomerang? Disney? TBN? World Harvest TV? LOGO? The Inspiration Network? Family Network? Lifetime? Lifetime Movie Network? etc. etc.

  32. My biggest issue is availability of the channel in HD. FSC is apart of the standard Fios and Comcast packages, and neither has FSCHD yet.

    I didn’t have any problem with the $15 buy-in for Setana, but never picked the channel up because it was not available in HD. High Def is the major selling point for me personally. I’m more than likely going to bite, but only if Comcast or Fios picks up the networks HD feed.

  33. When DirecTV offers the channel in HD I will consider paying the extra $15 per month. I’ll stream watch until then since stream quality isn’t that much behind SD quality. When a free preview comes around I’ll check it out and see if it’s worth the price. I don’t agree with the business model and don’t think it will work in this country. If it was NFL it would work, but there aren’t as many soccer/rugby fans in the United States than NFL fans.

  34. not enough new content for my liking…way too many repeats no new shows from SKY Sports
    Very poor offering IMHO from Fox
    I will pass

  35. directv has finally confirmed the switchover via twitter. said to be a seamless transition. bout time they said something!!!

  36. There have been numerous DirecTV tweets regarding the Setanta/Fox Soccer + transition. I look for both FSC and Fox Soccer + to go HD when the new satellite becomes active. It is currently being tested and should become active in early April…

    Here is the tweet from DirecTV: “We expect FSC+ to launch on 3/1, in place of Setanta on Ch. 621. FSC+ will be SD at launch. More on HD when dates are finalized.”/b>

  37. So much for the revolution that people were talking about?

    what were people saying???

    “screw Setanta now I don’t have to pay $15 for 1 channel”

    How did that work out?

    “Yes now that Fox is launching a second channel I will get to see the games in HD”

    Sorry, 2/3 of the games are not even filmed in HD

    “All games should be free and shown in HD”

    Really, you might want to try talking to people in the UK (who know the country where EPL is based and where millions of people watch) who pay much more than $15 to see 1/3 of the games we get to see here.

  38. Anyone know if TIME WARNER CABLE NEW YORK CITY will carry FSC+. I tried phoning em but they dont know their head from there arse!
    I’d pay if i have to just gimme the footy.

  39. The biggest problem for Fox is that FSC+ will not be available to most soccer fans since most cable affiliates won’t carry the channel. Fox needs to convince the cable companies to include FSC+ to their channel lineup for it to even have a chance of succeeding. For me the decision to pay or not pay isn’t even an option as my cable company, Cox, will not be offering FSC+.

  40. Simple economics really. $15 spent on FSC+ may be worthwhile to some more that ohers due to the value they place in it. To me, my passion is the beautiful game and for the cost of 3 lattes (whom someone else might prefer to spend their precious $15 on) I get to watch my beloved MCFC on TV more than I ever could in England, as well as all the ‘other’ big games. I think if you watch the channel avidly, you probably end up paying a measly buck a game. As others have mentioned, it was no so long ago that many of us begrudgingly paid up $15-20 per game (plus the added expense of breakfast and beer!). Now I can roll out of bed with my coffee and bleary eyes and watch the early game in the comfort of my own home.

    As a fan of the game in general, $15 is well worth continued coverage and availablility. What else would I spend my precious $15 on tha would give me so much joy?

  41. This is why Setana Failed – no? FOX are idiots if they don’t realize this!!!! I WANT MY ARSENAL!!! You Gobshitesarahpalinlovinecrapers!!!! Come on! I need my game. I’d rather go to A local pub in the AM than pay your monthly prenium – which is why Setana died – get it NOW??? show my farkin game you Gobshitesarahpalinlovinecrapers!!!! FOXSUCKBOLLOXXXX

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