Sunday, February 28, 2010 marked the final day of Setanta US’s history. The US division of the Irish broadcaster has gone out of business and most of its rights have been acquired by Fox and will be shown on Fox Soccer Plus, which launched March 1.
For many of us, Setanta has a been a large part of our life for the past several years as we’ve watched plenty of brilliant scenes on the channel including Liverpool beating Manchester United, and Manchester United lifting the trophy last season, to name just a couple.
But what will you and won’t you miss about the channel? Here’s my list:
What I Will Miss About Setanta US
- Watching live Premier League games on Setanta-i. Sure, the site had hiccups in the beginning, but I really loved how Setanta-i was so easy to use as well as all of the features and functionality the broadband player allowed which were miles better than the previous incarnation, Setanta Broadband. Setanta-i changed my viewing habits and allowed me to watch games wherever my laptop and Internet connection went.
- Memories of Special 1 TV. Just like Setanta-i had two different names, Special 1 TV was first known by the brilliant name “I’m On Setanta Sports” which was a genius marketing move to make the Setanta brandname familiar with audiences in the UK, US and elsewhere. The show was so popular that once people knew it was on Setanta Sports and were famiiar with the channel, it changed its name to “Special 1 TV” and became even funnier. It’s just a shame that Setanta UK went bankrupt and the channel wasn’t able to finance the show anymore, but you can still find the classic videos on YouTube.
- Paul Dempsey and Pat Dolan. Here in the United States, there are very few quality choices on a Saturday morning for expert coverage of the Premier League by pundits. “Fox Soccer Saturday” is too stuffy and scripted. BBC Radio Five Live is usually blocked. So when the duo of Dempsey and Dolan came on air via the Setanta Ireland studios, this was a godsend for viewers in the States where we could get insights and opinions on the game, and analysis we couldn’t find anywhere else. They both will be missed (but will continue doing their show for Setanta Ireland customers).
- Quantity and quality. For a few seasons, Setanta US had more Premier League coverage on its channels that Fox Soccer Channel thanks to Setanta Xtra (Setanta’s overflow channel for DirecTV customers). Plus, Setanta used to have the 7:45am ET Saturday game and the Monday games, in addition to its bounty of matches on Saturday and Sunday’s, as well as midweek matches. Plus on top of all this, we used to get more international and friendly matches on Setanta. Over the past 12 months, the number definitely declined but the quality was always there. Let’s just hope that Fox Soccer Plus does just as good a job and is available nationwide to viewers in a timely fashion.
What I Won’t Miss About Setanta US
- When were they going to be on cable? Setanta’s quest to be available on most TV providers in the United States was a long and arduous task. It wasn’t Setanta’s fault, but after several years of trying, I still didn’t have the option to subscribe to Setanta via my local Comcast provider. And the issue was the same for most soccer fans throughout the States. If you had satellite, you could get it with no problem. But the roll-out of Setanta on cable providers was painfully slow.
- Setanta promos. Some of the promos that used to run in-between games were awful. The latest one being the “We Will Be There” which is so full of itself and annoying that I quickly changed the channel or muted it whenever it was on. And because Setanta had very few TV commercials, we got to see the same promos over and over again for most of the season.
- Gameflash. During Premier League games, Setanta would pop-up the latest scores of Premier League matches near the top left corner of the screen and would ruin many a match that I was recording on DVR from another channel. After a while, I learned to get used to it but would still grimace whenever the scores popped up. Unfortunately, for Setanta, there were only two choices. One, use the Setanta Ireland feed and give viewers the option of watching Dempsey and Dolan and then, the gameflash. Or use the TWI feed and have no Dempsey and Dolan, but not be ruined by gameflash. To me, the choice was obvious.
Looking back on the history of Setanta in the United States, what will you and won’t you miss about the network? Share your opinion in the comments section below.