Why the USA Needs Match Of The Day

Fans of English soccer in the United States have everything they could possibly wish for: All Premier League games shown live through television and the Internet. A daily UK sports news program from Sky Sports. Matches shown in HD, when and where available. Ways to get around the BBC blocking radio commentaries. And an Internet that is thriving with discussions of every facet of the Premier League you could possibly wish for.

Except, there’s still one thing missing. The final thing that would make the English soccer experience in the United States complete. It’s Match Of The Day.

BBC’s Match Of The Day has been on air since 1964 and, even 46 years since it’s launch, still has an important role in influencing the opinions of soccer fans throughout the British Isles. But just as it’s required viewing in the UK, the program would be a perfect fit for the United States.

Here’s why:

The United States has one of the widest selection of Premier League games (and other leagues) in the world. However even with 20 hours or more of live Premier League games shown on US TV each weekend, there’s a massive gaping void when it comes to highlights of the games and the goals.

Take, for example, the average of seven Premier League games that are shown live on a typical Saturday across ESPN2, Fox Soccer Channel, Fox Soccer Plus and FoxSoccer.tv. You have to be a hermit to watch all 14 hours of Premier League action on any given Saturday. If you began your viewing at 7:45am, you would have to watch the 7 games one after the other (thanks to the help of a DVR player) with no break until the DVR finished showing you the last game at approximately 9:45pm that Saturday. That’s practically impossible even for the most hardcore soccer fan.

Imagine it’s a Saturday and you spent a couple of hours watching the early kick-off game on ESPN2. But for the remainder of the day, you had errands to run, chores to do and a family to spend your time with. After returning to your home by late afternoon, your obvious inclination is to find out what the results were from the day’s games and to watch the highlights. If you want to do this, your options are:

  1. Watch the games you taped. You can fast forward through each one, or skip to the end to see the goal highlights. But it’s messy because it takes a lot of fast forwarding and rewinding and you completely lose context out of what happened in the games,
  2. You can watch Fox Soccer Match Day on tape (from Noon to 12:30pm ET) and see goal highlights from some of the games shown on Saturday morning but not all of the highlights will be revealed due to some of the games being shown on tape delay later that afternoon on Fox Soccer Channel,
  3. You can visit a website such as 101 Great Goals and watch highlights from each of the games. While the experience is pretty good, it ruins the element of surprise because you’ll know what the final results of the games were before you click on the links.

While the third option is the most comprehensive in terms of guaranteeing you’ll be able to watch highlights from each game, the videos are technically illegal in that the company who has the rights to show the game highlights legally online if Fox Soccer Channel.

On a Saturday, there is no legal option to watch all of that day’s highlights in one program either online or on television. Again, I repeat, there is not one legal option. You can either stumble through the three options above or wait until 24 hours later to watch the Sunday night show, the Barclays Premier League Review Show.

If it was a weeknight, you could wait until 10pm to watch Fox Soccer Report. But soccer fans in the United States are left stranded on weekends in the States.

In a random tweet I posted on Twitter earlier this week, I asked EPL Talk followers whether they’d watch an American version of BBC’s Match Of The Day. Out of the 57 responses I received, the vast majority were in favor of the idea. However, the more I thought about it, the more I thought it would be better to just have a network air the original Match Of The Day program live on US TV rather than to create an American version of it.

I believe if Fox Soccer Channel acquired the TV and online rights to BBC’s Match Of The Day program, it could make a mint. The program would be a must-see for fans of Premier League clubs each Saturday afternoon and could be shown live at 5:30pm ET which is exactly the time the program airs on British television (10pm UK time). The program would fit nicely into Fox’s schedule right after the 3:30-5:30pm ET Serie A game ends.

It’s not just the highlights of the day’s Premier League action that makes Match Of The Day a must-see program. It’s also the analysis, no matter how good or bad people think it is, that is offered by the BBC pundits as well as the genteel Gary Lineker, as host, who is impossible not to hate.

One of the reasons why Match Of The Day would be popular in the States, other than providing excellent highlights, is that it has a magical appeal to the program because it’s been forbidden for so long. There’s a mystique around the show because Americans have heard Brits romanticize about it for so long. Plus, because it’s currently not legally available for viewing in the States (thus enhancing the mystique), many soccer fans end up getting it illegally through P2P file sharing such as BitTorrent.

While Match Of The Day may encourage some soccer fans to watch fewer live Premier League games on Fox Soccer Channel, there will still be many fans who prefer to watch live games in their entirety while others will prefer to watch a highlights package. Plus, the program would be the perfect gateway for new soccer fans to get initiated into the English variety of the sport and to encourage them to watch more games on Fox Soccer Channel.

I’m sure that although the TV rights to BBC’s Match Of The Day don’t come too cheaply, it would definitely be worth Fox Soccer Channel’s time to do their due diligence necessary to see how much it would cost and how it could frame advertising around the program. Because the BBC doesn’t feature any advertising, Match Of The Day runs 80 minutes without any commercials. While this may seem like a problem for Fox, I see it as an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to beam a one-of-a-kind highlights show that soccer fans would be very passionate and loyal about. The program could be “Brought to you by [insert advertiser’s name here].” What an opportunity to position one sponsor as the “one who brought Match Of The Day to you.”

It’s time for Match Of The Day to come to the United States. That time is now.

57 thoughts on “Why the USA Needs Match Of The Day”

  1. Definitely agree.

    I’d go further and say that ESPN should snag it.

    MotD is the perfect ‘on ramp’ for getting hooked on the EPL. It’s a pretty hard sell to watch 90 minutes of football where there might be no goals IF you currently have little or no knowledge of who the teams are, what’s at stake, etc. This is why I don’t watch MLS – no grounding in the players, teams, etc.

    But MotD guarantees goals and action in a short space of time, and explains the context of game, AND educates the viewers with their break-down of games afterwards.

    MotD is the gateway drug that leads to the heroin of 3 live games a weekend! If I ran ESPN, it would be a no-brainer. What else is on at midnight on a Saturday night?

    1. BBC America doesn’t own the rights to EPL highlights in the States. Fox does and I don’t see Fox letting that go to anyone unfortunately.

      The Gaffer

  2. Great post. I agree that non-football fans may start watching MOTD and slowly appreciate the game. Through MOTD they will realize that football is not just about highlights (as in American sports), but there is still plenty of exciting moments that do not involve goals.

  3. Option #3 – or you can go to footytube.com and turn OFF spoilers (i.e. absolutely no score will be shown). = Win. Of course, that still isn’t a match for MOTD, which I would kill to see in Australia.

      1. Cheers for that, but I have a feeling you mean via the net (either a torrents or website that streams it online). Unfortunately it only gets uploaded by Tuesday morning Australian time, which is too late by then. I hate watching highlights from the weekend after Monday – too much football happening these days to be stuck on the weekend action.

  4. I dont see why this is any different than watching Premier League Review Show on fox soccer channel every sunday night. it recaps and highlights every EPL game that week. and it strings them together seemelessly so it just looks like a REALLY fast soccer game. (it hides the timer) i even had a non-soccer friend ask me, “is this a real game? they are scoring so fast!”

    How is Match of the Day any different than the Premier League Review Show?

    1. Completely agree. Premier League Review Show is a great way to recap the weekend’s action in the EPL – it’s a must watch on Sunday night.

      What would Match of the Day offer that the Premier League Review Show doesn’t?

        1. <<>>

          That’s why by Sunday night, you have Sky Sports News and Fox Soccer Report. Really if they selling point of MOTD is the highlights, then there’s plenty of substitute over here. Now since the OP mentioned there’s more to that show than just the highlights, I can see his point.

    2. “How is Match of the Day any different than the Premier League Review Show?”

      Clearly you are incapable of reading and missed the whole point that MoTD provides analysis that no American produced show could ever get close to providing.

      Your opinion, thankfully, counts little as you hang out with retarded friends who actually think they score that often. Yet they would completely understand if it were an NFL or NHL highlights reel where ‘touch downs’ are scored just as often as goals are in soccer.

      1. I agree wholeheartedly. MOTD has the analysis that the EPL review show does not. While I love the EPL review show, MOTD is head and shoulders above it.

    1. Yes, Shearer is on sporadically.

      Lee Dixon provides *by far* the best analysis. Lawro is an idiot. Hansen is ok. MOTD2 is terrific.

  5. It is head and shoulders better than the EPL review show, so much more analysis and talk. I would think BBC America would be able to pick it up, it would definitely increase their viewership.

  6. Sorry but the real coup de grass would not be Match of the Day but rather Sky’s 3 hour Saturday morning show called ‘Soccer AM’.

    Its been going for years now and has top-notch guests (many are american) and is as funny as f**k. It was a real cult show at its outset but is now a big ratings puller and is essential viewing from 9am on Saturday mornings till mid-day. This leads you perfectly into ‘Soccer Saturday’ with Geoff Stelling who is the best footy presenter (not commentator) bar non.

    These are what you should be trying to get – not some old-as-the-hills format show that lost its gravitas 15 years ago.

    1. True Soccer AM is an amazing show, however MOTD is a highlights program and Soccer AM would need to be shown before the weekends matches. In that case it would start 4 am EST and 1am Pacific, so logistically I don’t think it would work to well. I would definitely DVR it and watch it until matches started.

    2. Soccer AM used to be good but is now, quite frankly, shit. The gags are crap and everything is predictable. Most the gags would be lost on Americans anyway.

      MoTD can provide a hell of a lot more to a US market than Soccer Am could ever dream of.

  7. Agree..MOTD always has been and always will be the best football programme out there…the analysis is top notch, even if Hansen was pissed that United won last weekend against his beloved Pool, he still gave a better analysis than anyone at FSC could dream of giving.
    I have always believed its all in the presentation though…MOTD is at the end of the day, has one theme song and we are off and running in a well designed studio, settle yourself into your chair (nice cup of tea and a slice of toast) and the presenters/analysts speak in a calm composed way and give their professional thoughts that are grounded on the fact that they have all “been there…done that”
    Lineker, Hansen and the rest are all former professional players that still live and breathe the game and when they speak…I listen, I don’t have to always agree ;), but I listen
    Compare that with what fox throws at you of a sunday afternoon…awful theme music jarring your nerves, advertisements everywhere, sitting in a (insert air quotes here) pub …in LA
    the presenters are rushed through each game and voice over the highlights as they read their “script” of the goalscorers/highlights (not always accurate BTW which considering the games have sometimes been over for 24 hours really does my head in)
    Then we are subjected to more of the god awful theme music as we go to YET ANOTHER ad break and the presenters shout and speak as fast as they can to squeeze everything in……….it just wears you out! and its still only quarter to 2 of a sunday!!!!!
    I watch MOTD each week online….never bother with the FSC….in fact I rarely even watch FSC anymore unless the game is not on anywhere else…the picture is poor, the build up analysis awful, half time analysis chopped in between loads of ads, the theme music poxy, the ads on the screen DURING the game annoying and the overall package is a very very poor one.

  8. Super Sunday + on FSC is another option for highlights. I DVR it and usually watch it Monday when I get home from work, or some time on Sunday evening. It is usually on right after the 11 a.m./Noon game on FSC and usually includes highlights from all the matches that weekend.

    1. Dave, good point. I forgot about that show. But I believe Sunday afternoon is still too late for highlights of games that finished over 24 hours earlier.

      The Gaffer

  9. I agree with the Gaffer that MOTD would be a terrific addition to what is presently offered to us here in North America. The idea of it being shown at the same time here as in Britain appeals to me as well. Furthermore, the type of analysis you get from the MOTD panel is much better than anything Fox or ESPN offers at this time.

  10. Fox Soccer Report shows all the goals & higlights from the Saturday EPL games on their Saturday night show… dont think they’ve missed a lot of them in the last few years… plus the most important games from Spain,Italy ,France and Germany… thats more than enough..my 2 c…

    1. Fox Soccer Report is one of the worst shows on television. Not necessarily the highlights, but their awful anchors. It’s Jeremy St. Louis and then a host of awful anchors.

      1. Fox Soccer Report is awesome, I actually like most of their anchors which is more than I can say for MOTD. Yeah they’re unprofessional at times but I kinda like that… it looks like they don’t take themselves too seriously and are having fun. Also Terri Leigh is way hotter than Gary Lineker.

  11. MOTD works in the UK because, on any given Saturday, there are only two matches shown on live TV. However, I do think it would be a nice thing to have in the States, if only for the novelty. The highlights are usually good (and much longer than anything there is on Sportscenter,) but the analysis is very mediocre. Hansen talks in one word sentences and Shearer talks about nothing at all.

  12. I don’t understand why FOX don’t show any of there English cousins channels programming here in the US. I know they show Sky Sports. ESPN2 shows ESPN UK’s game feed on a Monday Afternoon. Sentanta used to show UK and Ireland programming feeds and coverage.

    I myself would like to see Match Of The Day shown live here but the same comments that The Gaffer said FOX own the rights to the EPL here in the USA and it would not be in there best interests to show them.

    Besides BBC America sucks anyways.

    I myself am able to watch MOTD on my tv every Saturday night on my dvd player. I am a member of a commuity where I am able to download UK tv shows broadcast that night. Once I have the programme I put it on my USB stick into my DVD player which supports Divx.

    I have some invites available for this site if anyone is interested?

  13. There is one solution which ive been thinking about a lot. BBC to allow overseas visitors to their website to purchase the equivalent of a TV license. Thus giving you access to MoTD, MoTD2, Football Focus… and all other BBC shows via the iPlayer. I would be prepared to pay more for that than any satellite subscription.

    As for MoTD in America, it would lead to an education for soccer to kids that is desperately lacking at present – especially with the analysis that follows games, picking out defensive frailties etc etc… It still amazes me, as somebody who has coached out in the States for the best part of the last 5 years, how many kids have never watched a professional game. A picture really does paint a thousand words and watching MoTD subtlely teaches kids.

  14. I haven’t seen the Premier League Review show in a while and maybe that’s the problem – it feels as though the show times are all over the place, plus it’s more of a magazine show as opposed to an analytical or commentary one. Super Sunday is ok but it can be better produced, better set, and quite frankly, a more established host (maybe an ex player Robbie Earle type)

  15. For me it’s not so much about the punditry or the broadcast time, it’s about the way the Match of the Day highlights are edited and presented. It’s very carefully put together so that the featured games appear to have a flow to them, as opposed to the “here are the goals and good chances” approach, which is what The Premier League Review Show feels like to me. Other thing is that the commentary is all in the present tense, which feels a lot more natural than the past tense voiceover on shows like FSC’s Super Sunday +.

    1. Daryl, excellent points. The BBC, for all of the criticism they get from football supporters out there, do a bang-up job with MOTD, which is another reason I feel the show would be a big hit in the States and would definitely elevate the level of coverage Stateside.

      Whenever I go back to the UK, it’s definitely something I always look forward to watching. If I could see it legally on US television, it would be a dream come true.

      The Gaffer

    2. And, Daryl, it’s much more than that. *After* the commentated highlights, they show edited ‘packages’ highlighting individual players’ movement off the ball, or how a back four should/should not play together, etc. I have learned so much about soccer watching this and apply those lessons in my own weekend matches all the time.

  16. can’t say i miss lineker, hansen and lawrenson’s analysis at all. prefer to select the best game every weekend (usually arsenal or barcelona) and watch it in full. best analysis out there comes on podcasts like guardian football weekly and 5live world football phone in. well done to epltalk for having the likes of jonathan wilson, andy brassell and tim vickery on your own podcast. i wouldn’t bother with MOTD even if it were shown here, for the same reasons i don’t watch the hightlights show on FSC. prefer to watch a whole game any time.

  17. 1, Is MOTD syndicated anywhere outside of the UK?

    2, With the Premier League planning to roll out a 24 hour network starting in August to their overseas partners, I am willing to bet that they will have an extended highlight program on Saturday and Sunday Night. With Fox likely to pick up the Premier League’s programming on FSC + I think it’s likely we will see a program like MOTD following the last delayed first run game Fox has rights to on Saturday’s.

  18. well said and completely agree. I’ve turned several friends who didn’t care for soccer into hardcore fans by watching MOTD with them. Now they’re constantly hitting me up for new MOTDs

    Obviously the analysis is not as in depth as what you can find in podcasts and online, but that’s what makes it perfect for people new to the sport.

  19. i always get my fix for highlights at footytube which is a great website for match highlights. I think that they should make a MOTD for the MLS though. It would help the league gain more attention especially when people are as you say “burned out” from watching the European leagues already. But then again by the time all the MLS games finish we wouldn’t be burned out to watch the games we’ve recorded on a DVR .

  20. MOTD starts at 10.30pm GMT which I hink is the perfect time. Gives most people a chance to get back from the pub or pack the wife and kids off to bed. I think it would be a must for the U.S. It would be the one programme I would miss if I moved to another country.
    There’s an English guy who uploads it on demonoid about an hour after it finishes live. I noticed there are a lot of Americans and Australians who get it from there, most of which are english people living abroad.
    Great show, and a must for the EPL fan

  21. Because the BBC doesn’t feature any advertising, Match Of The Day runs 80 minutes without any commercials. While this may seem like a problem for Fox, I see it as an opportunity.

    I disagree, but not on principal. MOTD is amazing in that they air game footage for as long as they do — here in the states we’re lucky to get 60 seconds max of highlights.

    But the format just wouldn’t work and I don’t think american broadcasters would go for it. ESPN or FSC would never air 10-15 minutes of straight highlights as they’d lose a lot of revenue.

    Or, if they did do commercials after every highlight, the show would take three hours as it’s already 90 or so minutes without commercials.

    Great idea, but just not a reality…sadly.

  22. As much as I would love to see it, I don’t see Fox buying any programming from BBC (especially in light of James Murdoch’s recent comments). If anything Sky’s Goals on Sunday seems a more likey choice. I invested $14.99 in an IP masking device two years ago and while you can debate the legalities, it’s worked great in viewing and/or listening to programming (like MOD of the BBC website) on the interenet that would otherwise be blocked in the US and/or outside the UK.

  23. hey i know of a website that posts the match of the day highlights and commentary for the saturday fixtures by sunday mid-day.

    They will initially post the first set of highlights out there on saturday postmatches, but by sunday all of the previous day’s games have been uploaded from MOTD. Just trying to help!

  24. Gaffer,
    What makes MOTD is the analysis – Hansen, Lawrenson, Dixon, etc. are usually spot on with their takes on the weekend action. The only MOTD that will work is the BBC version not some Yankee version!
    btw – can you help me? BBC Five live commentaries are now blocked on my Iphone. Any solutions around this problem? I actually prefer listening to the commentaries on the weekend, while I do my chores around the house, and then watch MOTD on Sunday night. Thanks in advance.

  25. I’m lucky enough to have access to every match of the day over the interwebs (within a few hours of it’s GMT release) and I must say, it’s head and shoulders the best review show available for any sport.

    Yes, ANY sport.

    It’s got ALL matches with actual live commentary, not the voice-over stuff they’ve been doing with smaller matches on the review show lately. It’s got loads of commentary from people like Martin Keogh and Alan Shearer (bleh, for me), but most importantly, because there’s a MOTD for each gameday, you get much longer highlight reels.

    The MOTD highlight for Man Utd vs. Man Citeh was great, playing nearly 2 minutes of uninterrupted action at the end there.

    Really, MOTD>Review show. The only thing I like about review show is the little highlight things of cities and stadiums before matches.

    I still don’t know why FSC doesn’t start a MLS review programme of a similar fashion, even a MLSsoccer.com programme would be nice. I’m tired of watching all the clips online (and finding out the result before I watch the clip).

    1. Steve:

      I just returned from 4 years in Belgium, where I had a Sky Satellite system and am going through MOTD withdrawal. What is “interwebs” that you cite in your message and how does it compare with My Private Network? Thanks!


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