Why We're No Longer Watching the Same EPL Matches

For the past several years in the United States, the majority of soccer fans who were watching Premier League matches saw — for the most part — the same games. The vast majority of us watched the Saturday 10am ET game on Fox Soccer Channel, as well as the 12:30pm ET one and the match of the week on Sunday at 11am ET. Of course, many of us also watched the other games available too, but not always.

Now, thanks to the re-launch of FoxSoccer.tv which allows soccer fans in the United States a chance to watch the Premier League games live that used to be shown on television on delay, the number of live Premier League games shown on US television each weekend has increased by 42% from 7 to 10.

Trust me, I’m not complaining. However, what it has done is that the chances of we soccer fans in the United States watching mostly the same Premier League games has vastly decreased. Gone are the days where we can all reminisce about how wonderful that 10am ET game was that was shown on Fox Soccer Channel. That’s because at 10am ET, there are often six live Premier League games being shown at the same time.

For me, this past weekend, I managed to watch five of the nine games shown live during Saturday and Sunday. They were Birmingham against Arsenal, Bolton against Man United, Tottenham versus Portsmouth, Burnley against Blackburn and Liverpool versus Sunderland. While I enjoyed the majority of the games, there still were some cheeky posters on EPL Talk complaining that I had not written about Chelsea versus Aston Villa or West Ham against Stoke. The reality is that it’s impossible for me to see all of the games. And as I explained earlier this week, the first opportunity there is to watch highlights of the Premier League matches legally isn’t until late Sunday night.

The increased quantity of live Premier League games available on United States television and/or Internet each weekend will change the viewing habits of soccer fans Stateside. In the past, there was no guarantee that your favorite team, especially if they were from the lower half in the league, would be available on television or Internet each week, so it meant that soccer fans could mix up their viewing habits more to see various Premier League teams. But now that every Premier League game is available in the U.S., I believe that soccer fans will definitely make more of a conscious effort to watch their favorite club. That means they may not necessarily have time to watch some of the most enticing games each weekend.

For example, how many of you watched the brilliant game between Tottenham Hotspur and Portsmouth from the weekend, which I thought was a thoroughly entertaining game in which Spurs really showed how they’re enjoying their football right now. At the same time, Portsmouth was no pushover and they could have easily scored a couple except for some solid defending by Spurs and some herculean saves from Heurelho Gomes. And did you see the painful-to-watch injuries that happened to Hermann Hreidarsson and then to the player who was substituted in for him, Danny Webber?

That’s just one example of an entertaining game from this past weekend and there were several of them.

To me, this increased quantity of Premier League games available makes a Saturday review show such as Match Of The Day on US television that much more vital than before.

What about you? With the increased number of Premier League games available each weekend, has it changed your viewing habits at all and do you feel overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of games available? Click the comments link below and share your feedback.

30 thoughts on “Why We're No Longer Watching the Same EPL Matches”

  1. I wish we got all the 3pm weekend kick-offs live in the UK… As you know we only get the matches that are moved for TV. I’ve seen a few 3pm kick-offs this season in my local pub thanks to Sky Italy (who show EVERY EPL match live with the international feed – bit of a grey area whether this is legal to watch or not, but if you have a big enough dish it’s simple enough)

  2. Doesn’t both the Fox Soccer Report that normally airs at 10pm on Saturday Nights and again late at 1am along with Sky Sports News that airs usually at 6pm on Saturday usually show all the highlights from around the Premier League? Sometimes the FSR is DB’d to 1am following a MLS game during the season and Sky Sports News is sometimes pre-empted by a taped Premier League Game but more times than not both outlets show the highlights. Sky Spors News usually airs a 2am Saturday Night highlight show too. WIth DVRs we have the ability to record these programs and watch them when we wake up on Sunday so we don’t have to wait till 1pm on Sundays when Fox does Super Sunday.

    Is Futbol the only sport where fans expect to be able to see every game on the weekend? No MLB, NBA, NHL, or NFL fan “expects” or even attempts to watch every game every night a game is played. How is that different than fans of the Premiership?

    1. Different thing altogether. The Premier League and for that matter most football leagues have a regular season that crowns a champion, plain and simple. Every game matters. In the NBA and NHL, teams play up to 82 games and sometimes teams with losing records make the playoffs where things start over. Baseball…150+ games per team and again…playoffs where it all starts over. Finally, the NFL is probably the league where people want to watch the most games, and some will go to sports bars in order to watch every game at the same time.

    2. CFTV, the Sky Sports news program aired in the States doesn’t show highlights of the games. Fox Soccer Report does show the goals, but it doesn’t air until after 1am when MLS season is on.

      I still think it would be a much better option to show MOTD live during Saturday evening with much better highlights and analysis than wait until the early hours of Sunday morning for a below-par version from Fox Soccer Report.

      CFTV, I don’t think we longer expect to see every Premier League game, but we want to see the highlights of each. That’s the gaping void that exists right now. There is no quality and timely highlights package show. The best legal option is to wait until Sunday night but by then the weekend is almost over.

      The Gaffer

      1. I have seen highlights of the games on Sky Sports News, before. The problem is on some weekends FSC skip Sky Sports News.

        A real solution would be a complement channel like NFL Red Zone.

    3. I beg to differ on that, the NFL has the redzone channel available across providers now which is a dream, and the sunday ticket. MLB has the same setup, so wanting it all is very common.

  3. Yes, my habits are changed. My priority watching is now:

    1. West Ham match. Hey, I have six more chances to watch them before they head down.
    2. The ESPN HD game. This is must watching even if Burnley v Bolton. And, obviously this Saturday, it takes precedence over *ALL* games. (See #3)
    3. The game with biggest implications for the title race. So one of the top 3, especially if they have a good match.
    4. Then the others, but usually not ‘watched’, but done on quick fast-forward, as was documented in a prior post.

    #3 will be balanced in the final weeks with watching Hull or Wigan matches as that will be important for any hope of West Ham to stay up.

    1. Sasha, Fox Soccer Report isn’t usually on Saturday nights anymore especially when MLS games are on. Take this past Saturday as an example. There was a MLS game from 9-11pm and from 11pm-1am.

      The Gaffer

      1. Gaffer,
        That’s a great point; it’s been such a long time since the 2009 season ended that I’d forgotten about that.

        Also, FSR doesn’t really show long-form highlights like the EPL review show or MOTD.

  4. Gaffer,
    I wasn’t saying you had to do the article. You are not the only person that writes for EPLTalk. Was just hoping somebody would have writen something about a team that socred 11 goals and conceded 1 in two days after looking like they had given up on the season.

  5. Fox Super Sunday + on FSC has full highlights of all matches right after the morning EPL game. So you can get highlights before Sunday night.

  6. No offense, but does anyone watch Fox Super Sunday +? I should watch it so I can see highlights sooner in the weekend, but I would much prefer a Saturday night round-up a la Match Of The Day.

    The Gaffer

    1. I watch it sometimes after the football season is over becuase it comes on just as the NFL games start. It’s an ok show they started doing somethings similar to Sports Center where do pieces near a bigscreen TV and analyse a game or goal. I have never watched Match of The Day so I can’t make a comparison of it.

  7. I must say I don’t feel overwhelmed by the choice – I only watch/pay online for really important games (like Man U v Liverpool last weekend). The video quality’s just not good enough to bother otherwise. I have a HD TV and, while I (STILL!) don’t yet have FSC HD, I’d much rather watch poorly downscaled games on a big screen than even worse quality on a computer monitor.

    BTW, talking of FSC HD (yawn), I haven’t seen much of a twitter campaign going on, at least to Comcast. Come on people, join in – I even signed up & learned the lingo specfically to harass @comcastcares!!

  8. This article provides an interesting conundrum. While I (and most people on this board) love the fact that now we have access to watch every EPL game live in some capacity, unless you follow a specific side, you are overwhelmed with choice. Listening to the EPL talk podcast and following EPL generally, there are 3 major storylines of interest to me: 1) 3-team race at the top; 2) race for 4th place and Europe spots; and 3) relegation battles. I want to stay up on all those plot developments, but that involves pretty much every game in the EPL! Something akin to MOTD would help alleviate having to put in 14-20 hours each weekend watching EPL soccer, but if I am to remain a generalist (i.e. not support a specific EPL side), then how do I determine which matches are the ones I should watch live and which ones to wait for the highlights on? (Some are easy, ManU-Chelsea Saturday morning is the EPL game of the week).

    Maybe its time I allow the Gaffer, the EPL talk crew and the commenters of this site to start making arguments as to why I should support their favorite EPL side. :-)

    1. Brad, hallelujah! I agree with everything you say about the highlights. We need them more than ever now!

      As for why you should support my favorite side, it’s Swansea City in the Championship. I don’t have an EPL side I support, which helps me stay unbiased. But some of the other bloggers on EPL Talk may be able to twist your arm in support of their favorite EPL club :)

      The Gaffer

      1. Your on target Chris, we need more highlights, but not just the scores, we need to see the near misses and developments of the play that lead to scores. That I think is the best part of MOTD, breaking down the game from a tactical point of view. It is something that is hard to get during the game and not a strong point of the US highlight shows.

        Given the large number of games each week we simply lose focus and then when MLS starts guys like me are given a mission impossible to see all the games especially if your going out to see your home team.

  9. Just a heads up to those that have Time Warner, they have added FS+ to the lineup in SD and HD as of today. Not sure if it’s a pay channel or part of a package as I already pay for all the sports packages. It’s the channel above FSC (231 and 1231 where I live). Watching a review show of this weekends Championship games. It’s fantastic!!

    1. Hi Andrew, may I ask in what part of the country do you live? Here in Columbus we were told that FS+ would be added today on 338 but it’s yet to appear. It’s going to be part of digital sport package. TWC said no HD for FS+ or FSC–they have no plans for either.

      1. I live in Hawaii. The HD definitely surprised me. I get a package that has NBATV, NHL Network, MLB TV so maybe it’s part of that. I also get a fox sports package for college sports that has FSC Atlantic, FSC Pacific, and CBS college Sports Network and a few others so it could be part of that package. Not quite sure.

        1. Thanks for the info. We’ll keep nagging TWC about the HD. I think we’re getting FS+ as part of the package you mention–waiting to see. They’ve been making other channel changes (non-sport channels) this week so we’ll see how it all nets out.

  10. This is a “problem” I have no problem dealing with. Especially if a particular game I’m watching turns into a snooze fest, I have the option of clicking over to another game… of my choice. The options available are bloody marvelous!

    1. Rub it in why don’t you Lad. Once I watch the ESPN game, I hunt for streams online, only to be taken down after 15 minutes. Then my wife forces me to play with me children

      1. Well, that is why I pay Foxsoccer.tv to be able to watch the games and only need to worry if their feeds get garbled… which hopefully will stop being a problem soon.

        I told my wife that having the ability to watch Super 14 at late night will be great for when the baby just doesn’t want to sleep. :^D

  11. Being a student, there are certain times of the year where things get so busy that the little free time I have I want to be able to watch the club I support. When I was in high school and middle school it used to annoy me at times when I would check the listings and not see my club playing.

    If the one game we had available turned out to be boring I would turn it off. Now, I have an option to flip to another match if I have the time. Choice is good and I’m glad the options are expanding.

  12. some Asian satellite companies actually do show every Premier League game, live. I seen a youtube video of someone channel surfing, I was amazed on how many Premier League games it stopped on. at the same time, I am asking, “Why not us?”

    Intenet technology for this kind of thing is nice but it’s not reliable. even legitimate streams fail more often than satellite tv does and it would be more enjoyable to watch from a recliner than a computer chair.

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