Dear Fox Soccer Channel(s): an Open Letter For the New Season

Within the last 12 months, you’ve done a lot to enhance your product and the growth of the game. The launch of the HD channel and Fox Soccer Plus, while not by any means perfect, have been a major plus. The announcement of the new Fox Soccer Tonight program is another good step for the network. But after the addition of ESPN to the EPL fray last season, it has highlighted many areas you could improve on in your coverage. Here are a few suggestions for the coming season:

Start your match telecasts at the correct time.

I’ll have to say, it impressed me that from the start of ESPN’s PL coverage, they would cut into whatever program was running at 2:55 PM to have ample time to show the lineups and a bit of the buildup for a 3 PM kickoff. In England (and Europe), a 3 PM kickoff means that at precisely 3 PM, the match kicks off! So why then do your 10 AM ET telecasts start exactly at 10 AM, leaving no time for any buildup at all? Invariably, you will squeeze in the lineups and either go to commercial or to the kickoff, meaning we’re left watching the match on a two to four minute delay. Yes, 2-4 minutes isn’t a big deal, but you’re a soccer channel! European soccer is the main reason we tune in. Please, Fox: start your coverage a bit early. I shouldn’t be able to find an illegal stream of the match online that is minutes ahead of what’s on my TV.

“You are watching FSC, in HD”

Luckily, I’ve been able to largely avoid FSC during the summer, and therefore haven’t had to hear much of this abomination of an advertisement. But when I hear it for the 20th time by next week and involuntarily throw my remote through my LCD out of anger, should I send the bill to you or to Comcast?

Warren Barton.

Look, I’m sure he’s a nice guy. But two years on, he’s still a statue on television. Every time he looks into the camera, I feel like he’s staring daggers right through me. Maybe spring for some acting classes for him; give him a beer before he goes on, something. Although I do have fun with a drinking game I came up with for every time he says “as well” in his analysis (he once said it 19 times during just the two starting lineups).

Pop-Up Ads

I don’t entirely blame you on this one. I’m sure making a sport with few commercials survive on a channel with a limited budget isn’t possible without them. But I think I speak for everyone when I say that they’re extremely distracting, especially when they pop up during play. At least wait for the stoppages (injury, goal kick, free kick, whatever) to display them. And please remove that “HD” tag from the corner of the screen. It’s like you’re mocking us.

Sincerely (I swear),

What other suggestions would you have to improve FSC and FS+ for the future?

40 thoughts on “Dear Fox Soccer Channel(s): an Open Letter For the New Season”

  1. Your first point is probably the best one and I support that suggestion 100%.

    I’d also support your Warren Barton comments inasmuch as he’s difficult to watch, though he’s not a terrible pundit. Most of FSC’s studio personalities are terrible and he can at least offer some fairly intelligent analysis from time to time.

    As for the HD logo and “You’re watching FSC in HD,” you’ve got no one to blame but your provider. With the recent pick up of FSCHD by DirecTV, FSCHD will now be seen by more people than ever before. FSC has been broadcasting in HD for nearly a year now. If your cable provider doesn’t pick up and deliver the signal, it’s not FSC’s fault. If only more people understood that…

    HERE’S MY BIGGEST SUGGESTION TO FSC (and it goes right along eith your initial suggestion): Give us the international feed in its entirety! Every match shown on FS+ is broadcast this way and I find it to be much more appealing. I’m not suggesting that you eliminate your in-house pre-match show, but end it five minutes early so that we can see and hear the international feed. Come back for half-time and bring us back when the international commentary resumes just before the second half. I don’t know about anyone else, but when FSC joins the international commentary, often mid-sentence, just after the kick-off I get a bit cheesed off. Certainly it’s nit-picky, but it would help.

  2. By the way, at least you get FSC in HD. In Montana, our FSC channel has a big ‘ol HD logo on it, but we don’t have it in HD because we don’t have the larger cable companies like Time Warner and Comcast. It’s dreadful. It’s why I look forward to watching on ESPN.

  3. I would brush off all the problems I have with FSC if I could get it in HD! Damn you comcast!! Get it done!!

    1. Agreed. Have the same damn problem here in Boston. Nothing like watching a crappy feed and two giant black bars on either side of the screen (because it doesn’t broadcast in widescreen either)

  4. Another nice open letter, thanks Phil. I get tired of morons criticizing writers on this site. A difference of opinion is one thing but there is no place for blatant hatefulness through this site. Why not just move on to the next story if anger is sparked inside of you….better yet, go elsewhere. I enjoy the educated disagreements and debates on this site. Let’s act like respectable adults please.

    1. Ahh, another dreamer…..but +1, Ballin.

      btw…@Gaffer. This is why I like the site “no thumbs”. If I want to “up” someone or “down” someone I’m happy to put my name to it, not be some anonymous troll.

    2. By the way, I wasn’t intending to offer criticism of this post. I was just trying to be clever.

      I think FSC, FS+, and are so much in their infancy that honest feedback would probably be welcomed on their end. I’m sure they want to get it right, without spending an arm and a leg to do it.

      You could probably find a contact at Fox Soccer to send this to. Especially if you have a lot of corroboration from the commenters on this site.

    1. Sam…..TW does not make nationwide decisions on these things. It leaves it up to their regional managers to make a decision based on their local economic situation.

      I, too, have FSC, but not in HD. However, I also have FS+ (no HD, but no additional charge) which all other TW subscribers do not have. It is a less monolithic approach, which gives local control to local people. Not necessarily a bad thing.

      Badger your local TWC manager. :-)

  5. Completely agree on the first one. I hate watching games on 4 or 5 minute delays. Its 2010. I want to have BBC live text running so I can keep up with other games, but then it says whats happening in the game I’m watching before I see it.

  6. I agree with your first point and half of your third point. As annoying as all the “HD” stuff is, I think they’re doing it to intentionally piss people off so that the cable providers will start broadcasting in HD. I have Time Warner who I think absolutely sucks, but apparently we might be getting HD some time soon in NY, so maybe it had an effect? To me the pop-ups are probably necessary since FSC just doesn’t have the volume they need (yet) to turn a good profit from advertising.

    As far as Warren Barton, I have really mixed feelings. I think he provides some of the more insightful commentary on FSC (which doesn’t say much), but man is he boring. He’s not just boring, though. I also find him incredibly negative and harsh. He’ll compliment players, but only very rarely. That’s a gripe I have with American soccer commentary in general though. I think English commentators are much better at objectively discussing the flow of the game, tactics, individual moves of brilliance, etc., while the American commentators focus on poor passes, criticizing individual players, and generally calling the game like you would a horse race. And yes, I realize Warren Barton is English. Call me unpatriotic, but I would be much happier with any of the English commentators in the US. I’m glad many of the games broadcast in the US still play English commentary and I hope the Americans don’t start taking over.

  7. The popup ads have got to go on FSC+. For the ridiculous price that channel charges, I should get a premium viewing experience. Particularly annoying is 3-4 times per half, they would shrink the screen to show news headlines that anyone could read about on the internet if they were so inclined. And they were always the exact same headlines! Save that stuff for halftime! It enraged me enough last year that I canceled FSC+ as soon as I could and sought out streaming.

    1. I know I’m repeating myself from some other thread, but……we all don’t pay extra for FS+. It is on my basic digital tier (TWC in eastern NC) at no extra charge.

      Your argument should be with your provider who is charging you extra, not with FS+.

      1. This is one area where DirecTV is really ripping its customers. The don’t HAVE to charge you extra. They just want to……and they’re getting away with it.

    2. Mike, I know how you feel. On top of how annoying the ads are, they’re also corny, like obnoxiously corny.
      I still have FSC, but we don’t get FSC+ in Montana. So I use sopcast and stream when I can.

    3. i love when they tell you which team is wearing which color with that gigantic banner across the screen. they do it so damn much too. the worse part……the team colors are on the premier league scoreboard the whole fxxking time.

  8. I completely agree with the first point!!!!
    Dear Fox Soccer Channel:
    When a game kicks off at 10am, start the friggin’ broadcast 5 minutes before that and start the actual game on time!!! How hard is that?10am means 10am, not 10:04, 10:06, etc. I am sick of delayed kickoffs just b/c of someone’s incompetence in the LA studios.

    1. Agreed completely…in fact, I don’t think starting the broadcast even 5 mins before kickoff is anywhere near enough time. It should be 15-30 mins of build-up. They should be talking about the line-ups, things to expect, a brief summary of each team’s league position and/or recent form, etc etc.

      And I hate that the broadcast usually cuts off soon after full-time too. Can’t they have a bit more analysis of what we’ve just seen, highlights etc.

      Since Fox and Sky Sports are both owned by Murdoch, I just wonder how hard it could be for FSC to just broadcast Sky’s own show in full, rather than just taking the feed for the game and inserting their own FSC studio stuff with Barton and the other guy.

  9. I agree with your first point entirely.

    Dear Fox: There is no reason to have a local announcer come on and tell us nothing that will enhance our viewing when the game is about to start or has already begun. Just go to the English feed! You’ll save money in the process since you won’t have to pay the announcer. Everyone wins!

  10. Dear FSC: not only should you use the international feed from the beginning, you should always and WITHOUT FAIL:

    (1) Wait for the commentator to give the score at the end of the first half and at the end of the second half before you cut away.

    (2) Get back into the second half in a timely manner, which is to say: WHEN THE INTERNATIONAL FEED RESUMES. You are GIVEN that information. USE IT! I am sick and tired of the sloppy way you rejoin the feed at the beginning of the second half. Would you please demonstrate a little PROFESSIONALISM and act as if you care about your presentation (which has ALWAYS been WRETCHED)?

  11. Well put. All points are good. I no longer have a problem w/ #2 though. I have Direct TV in Chicago and we just got FSC in HD as of this past Wed (Aug 11), and had GolTV in HD about a month ago.

  12. Good Points there gaffer. I told my roommate that it really hurts me when i realize FOX are the ones who have exclusive premier league rights in America…. This summer i’ve been mostly watching ESPN and never bothered about fsc, now its depressing to know I have no choice but to watch some crappy network that do not know anything about football… I hate FSC, I wish ESPN would win all the rights to the Premier League and Italian league, I love GOLTV even if its not in HD, at least i dont get the ‘brought to you in glorious HD’ bs on there.

  13. #1 – They missed the first 30-40 seconds of the Villa v West Ham game. Didn’t catch the substitutes. THEIR FIRST GAME OF THE SEASON, THEY HAD MONTHS TO PREPARE!!!!

  14. Once again Fox waited till 11 AM to begin the Liverpool-Arsenal coverage and wasted just over 3 minutes, with Costigan talking up the game and giving the lineups, before beginning the match. Will it do any harm to start coverage 5 minutes earlier? Fox should learn from ESPN about how to cover EPL games.

  15. Not sure if they are contractually obligated to only turnover to the sky commentators until the KO, but it sure would be nice if they began with the walk out from the tunnel etc just as ESPN did with the WC.
    As a side note I had to turn down the sound on the LA/NYRB game as the latest folly of Brian Dunseth played out. I now know the ages of all the players ( who cares). Does he not listen to ANY of the EPL game announcers and try to learn????

  16. I am finding the games unwatchable. Is it being sent over the cable in HD but not getting to my TV in HD? The lines on the field make me dizzy and the quality of the picture is so poor that I can barely watch, I just listen for some action and watch it.

    I have been watching games on this channel for many years now, and this is discouraging me.

  17. As a Directv subscriber I now have FSC in HD; however, the quality of the HD is subpar when compared to ESPN 2 HD. What gives?

  18. Please Fox its time for warren barton to go. His soccer knowledge is minimal, he is repetitive and biased in his opinions. Fox Soccer is becoming staid with his monotonous cliches. Drop him.

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