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Premier League Survival Sunday: Tell Fox and ESPN What You Want to See

fscespn Premier League Survival Sunday: Tell Fox and ESPN What You Want to See

This coming Sunday marks a massive day in the Premier League with so much to play for on the last day of the season. If you were Fox Soccer Channel, which games would you choose to show on the final day of the season where all 20 teams play at the same exact time?

Fox faces that exact question this week where they’ll need to decide which game to show live on Fox Soccer Channel, which games will be available to ESPN to choose from, which one will be shown live on Fox Soccer Plus and which other ones will be available for viewing on FoxSoccer.tv.

If you were Fox and ESPN, which ones would you pick?

Here’s my recommendation:

Without any question, the biggest match next Sunday is Wolves against Blackburn. While the race for fifth spot is still on, the name of the game next Sunday is the relegation battle where five Premier League clubs battle it out to avoid the last two relegation places. It’s the narrowest relegation battle involving the most number of teams in the history of the Premier League and it deserves to be featured front-and-center.

The worry for Fox and ESPN is that no one will be interested in seeing relegation teams. There are very few Wolves, Blackburn, Blackpool, Wigan and Birmingham City supporters in the United States. It’ll be Fox’s nature to lean towards featuring the big names on its channels to secure bigger TV ratings. But my argument is that you’ll get more people watching the drama and suspense of the relegation battle this week than the big teams.

So my recommendation is the following:

  • Fox Soccer Channel: Wolves against Blackburn
  • ESPN2: Manchester United versus Blackpool
  • Fox Soccer Plus: Stoke against Wigan
  • FoxSoccer.tv: Tottenham vs Birmingham, Aston Villa vs Liverpool, Bolton vs Man City, Everton vs Chelsea, Fulham vs Arsenal, Newcastle vs WBA, West Ham vs Sunderland.

This way, every channel gets a massive match (or more, in the case of FoxSoccer.tv). For Fox Soccer Channel, it doesn’t get any bigger than Wolves against Blackburn as far as a relegation battle goes. If it’s a one-sided match, the losing team will face the prospect of being relegated depending on how the other teams do. If that’s the case, it’ll force the losing team to attack and it could open the game up into a high-scoring goal fest with every goal having a huge implication.

In the ESPN2 match, they get the benefit of showing Manchester United lifting the Premier League trophy as well as the possibility of Blackpool surmounting a challenge to avoid relegation if they can get a point or all three from this match. If I was Fox Soccer Channel, I wouldn’t choose this one as the main match to show on my channel because of one reason. While it’s great to see a team lifting a Premier League trophy, Manchester United will play most of their reserves in what is for them a meaningless match so that they can rest their stars for the Champions League Final.

Fox Soccer Plus’s Stoke against Wigan match will be important too as Wigan tries to get the points necessary to stay in the Premier League.

Spurs and Liverpool fans will want to watch their games to see if their side can finish in fifth position and qualify for the Europa League.

However, here’s my prediction for how I think the networks will pick their games:

  • Fox Soccer Channel: Manchester United versus Blackpool
  • ESPN2: Tottenham vs Birmingham
  • Fox Soccer Plus: Aston Villa vs Liverpool
  • FoxSoccer.tv: Wolves vs Blackburn, Stoke vs Wigan, Bolton vs Man City, Everton vs Chelsea, Fulham vs Arsenal, Newcastle vs WBA, West Ham vs Sunderland.

They’ll be going for the ratings and believing that soccer fans in the United States won’t watch relegation games in numbers.

Two more important things:

  1. This is the only day of the season, in my opinion, where networks should encourage commentators to tell viewers what the scores are from the other games. ESPN gets a lot of abuse for doing that within the regular season (rightly so, in my opinion), but this is the one day where it should be encouraged since it adds so much drama and suspense to the game being televised.
  2. Please, please, please Fox and ESPN, make sure that you sync all of your matches so they all kick off at the same time. On the closest relegation battle in the history of the Premier League, it is critical that we don’t have games slightly delayed where we already know that a goal has been scored before it actually happens (this has happened many times in the past on the final day of the season). This can not be understated. We want to experience the games live, in real-time, so we can suffer in suspense and agony as well as cry tears of joy as our teams achieve great heights. Having this ruined by knowing the outcome threatens to destroy everything that is wonderful about the Premier League season finale.

So what do you think? Which games should Fox and ESPN show? Which games do you predict they’ll show? And how important is it to you that all games are synced and shown at the same time live, not delayed by a few minutes? We know that Fox and ESPN executives read this blog, so speak up and share your opinion so they can read what you have to say.

Do you want to see the relegation battle played out on television, or would you prefer that Fox and ESPN focus on the big teams instead? Speak up now and let them know by posting your opinions in the comments section below! The sooner you do this, the greater the likelihood that you can impact their decision-making process.

This entry was posted in General, Leagues: EPL. Bookmark the permalink.

About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
View all posts by Christopher Harris →

41 Responses to Premier League Survival Sunday: Tell Fox and ESPN What You Want to See

  1. I’m going to watch Fulham vs Arsenal on FSC.tv. However, I’m hoping I can get to flip back and forth to follow what happens with Spurs v B.City & Villa v LFC. I’m more interested with who finishes 5th than who gets relegated.

    • timmyg says:

      There’s something to watch in that game, and Everton-Chelsea, too.

      If Fulham win and Everton lose, we get 7th. Arsenal’s loss would then drop them out of the CL AQ if City win either tomorrow or Sunday.

  2. Ivan says:

    Gaffer:
    Agreed with your analysis…Wolves -Blackburn MUST be on one of the 3 channels! Talk about a classic relegation do or die!After watching the higlights of Wigan-WHU, I am still fuming that the geniuses on Fox didn’t show the game.
    ESPN should pick Manure-Balckpool, but if Fox has first choice, the game will go to FSC.
    Tottenham-Birmingham/Stoke-Wigan are both tempting; Tottenham should get priority as they are a better team and still “fighting” for that fifth spot…
    As long as FS Plus shows Wolves-Blackburn, I am happy(don’t care about either team, but a last game of the season relegation clash is a Premier League staple). You get to see fans storm the field while the other set of fans cry their eyes out; talk about drama…

  3. Casey G. says:

    the final day is a case where i think fox and espn should use their other resources like using Fox Deportes and ESPN Deportes to air another match instead of simulcasting, in ESPN’s case maybe even using ESPN/ESPN2 like they do during the final group stage matches of the world cup.

  4. olivert says:

    FOX won’t waste its money on the 3 meaningless games: Newcastle vs West Brom, West Ham vs Sunderland, Everton vs Chelsea. I don’t believe those 3 will be available anywhere in the U.S., not even on foxsoccer.tv.

    (Remember that foxsoccer.tv did NOT stream the 5 meaningless games on the final Sunday last season.)

    ==

    My guesses (based on the assumption that ESPN, Inc. will have “1st pick”):

    Man Utd vs Blackpool – ESPN2/ESPN3.com/ESPN Deportes
    Tottenham vs Birmingham – FSC/FOX Deportes
    Stoke vs Wigan – FS+/FOXsoccer.tv
    Wolves vs Blackburn – FOXsoccer.tv (SDD 1pm ET on FS+)
    Fulham vs Arsenal – FOXsoccer.tv (SDD 5pm ET on FSC)
    Bolton vs Man City – FOXsoccer.tv
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool – FOXsoccer.tv

    9pm ET – Review Show – FSC (1 hour later than usual)

    ==

    Blackpool, Birmingham, and Wigan all need to win. If all 3 were to lose, then both Wolves and Blackburn will survive regardless of result.

  5. Mekias says:

    I’m a little worried that Blackburn and Wolves could turn into a cautious affair as losing that game could be a terrifying prospect.

    I like the Tottenham/Birmingham match as it gives you one big club with something to play for as well as a relegation team fighting for their life.

    I want Wigan to stay up so I might be inclined to watch Wigan/Stoke as well.

    3rd place and the automatic qualifier for Champions League is still up for grabs but I hope Fox doesn’t show the ManCity or Arsenal games.

    Being an Everton fan, I want to see them try to beat Chelsea again and hold on to 7th place but there’s no chance that will be televised.

  6. Earl Reed says:

    Some analysis:

    1) Basically, a win in the Wolves/Blackburn game is academic for the successful team.
    2) If Birmingham, Blackpool, and Wigan all win, the losing team in Wolves/Blackburn, or both teams in the case of a draw, would be relegated.
    3) If two of Birmingham, Blackpool, and Wigan win, Blackburn fares best in the case of tie or loss, with a superb goal differential to all involved.
    4) With a 1-0 loss, Wolves would survive a tiebreaker with every team.
    5) With a 2-0 loss, Wolves would be relegated if tied at 40 points with Brum (goal differential) or Blackpool (goals scored).

    As far as televising, ManUtd/Blackpool should go to ESPN2, Wolves/Blackburn to FSC, and FS+ can handle Tottenham/Brum.

  7. olivert says:

    Now that UEFA has awarded England a “fair play” spot in the UEFA Europa League 1st Qualifying Round, Tottenham has a “safety net” to sneak into Europa League qualifying if it weren’t able to beat Birmingham on Sunday.

    The “fair play” spot will go to Tottenham if the Spurs don’t collect any cards on Sunday. Otherwise, Fulham will get the “fair play” spot.

    (The team finishing in 5th place of the EPL will have a spot in the UEFA Europa League Playoff Round, which is essentially the 4th qualifying round.)

    ==

    I still believe that the 3 games on live TV this Sunday should be the ones involving the teams with 39 points: Blackpool, Birmingham, Wigan.

    Wolves vs Blackburn should be saved until 1pm ET on FS+.

    • Spurs fan says:

      The fair play spot in the Europa Lg is a penalty for most top sides – you have to come back for training and matches in early July!! You can take Europa and put it where the sun don’t shine!!

  8. Terry says:

    I’d like to see Stoke vs Wigan as Wigan must win to stay in the EPL. It should be shown on FSC. ESPN2 should show Manchester United vs Blackpool since Blackpool must win to stay in the EPL. FS+ should show the Wolves vs Blackburn game which will also be available on foxsoccer.tv. Foxsoccer.tv should also show all the other games so that subscribers can pick the one they want to see or switch between games.

  9. Norman Peters says:

    Novel idea – put all the games on the sister HD networks. OK – Yeah not going to happen.

  10. Eric F. says:

    Wolves / Blackburn should be on FSC. The two teams will not be able to calculate their play based on other results because all games are being played simulataneously. A loss for either could mean relegation, and the same holds for a tie. This should be a desperate battle. Plus, Robert Plant will likely be at the game.

  11. RedinVirginia says:

    Gaffer,
    If ESPN execs do read this blog then how come they haven’t stopped Ian Darke from spoiling the games by saying scores of the other games…they have to see how many people complain about it on this blog

    • Brian says:

      Unfortunately, when there are multiple games going on at the same time, it is the job of the broadcaster to provide updates of other games. Every sport does this. It is not the job of the broadcaster to televise the gave as if it is in a vacume. By your logic, when the final group games in a major tournament are played at the same time, the announcers shouldn’t say anything about the other games being played. In fact when games are played at the same time they do sometimes impact each other. Such is life and get over it already.

      • RedinVirginia says:

        there is no need to tell us the scores when people want to watch the other game at the same time on FSC. It doesn’t bother me when as much when we get to the book end of the season like the last two weekends but during the entire season it’s really annoying to have the games outcome ruined when you are about to watch later on DVR. I’m not complaining about the world cup because I understand why they do it during those tournaments. So don’t tell me to get over it Ahole I have every right to complain about it

        • cmasia says:

          If you notice, the international telecasts produced by IMG never, well almost never ( see below ) give scores of other games, as in most countries many matches are shown on delay.
          ESPN, on the other hand, has no reason to help FSC and FS+’s ratings by holding back scores.

          It was interesting however, during Sunday’s delayed telecast of the WIgan v. Hammers match, the IMG guys did in fact update the Birmingham v. Fulham score.

          I’m with Gaffer on the 3 games we should see this Sunday, but I’m not hlding my brreath.

      • The Gaffer says:

        Brian, I disagree but obviously this is a topic that we’re not going to agree on. This is not the NFL.

        Cheers,
        The Gaffer

    • The Gaffer says:

      RedInVirginia, they listen to us but they don’t always agree with us!

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

  12. day... says:

    I agreed with you, Wolves versus Blackburn on ESPN. I am in Indonesia and have connect to ESPN. I hope, the game is not scoreless.

    • olivert says:

      The “ESPN” you get in Indonesia is completely different from the one we get in the U.S.A. Indonesia gets ESPN Asia, which is programmed by ESPN STAR Sports Limited out of Singapore.

  13. Spurs fan says:

    I’ll be listening to the BBC on radio with espn and fsc in background on mute. One of the best days in football for a neutral – would not wish this day on my worst enemy if your club is involved! Americans will NEVER get it!!

    • IanCransonsKnees says:

      I’d wish it on Arsenal, then they could have a march and protest at how badly they’re run! Oh shit they did that at the weekend, because finsihing in the top 4 isn’t good enough. Soft twats.

  14. Eric F. says:

    “Americans will NEVER get it!!”

    This board is full of Americans, actually.

    • Spurs fan says:

      My point – they won’t ever get it!

      • Dave (dlbags) says:

        We do get it. We have the internet (access to all the same things you read, i.e. newspapers) and satellite (access to all the games you watch). Oh and your teams keep coming here on summer tours to soak up our money (Hey where were Spurs last summer?). So quit it already. Even our national team isn’t a pushover anymore. Look at where we were 20 years ago to now. Most of our team plays in Europe.

        No other country has embraced and gotten better at the sport as fast as America the last 20 years or so which is why so many of you English are flooding over here to get coaching jobs and help grow the sport. I mean you can probably walk off the plane in a track suit with an English accent and get a job coaching on some level somewhere. I think even Gaffer is in my old stomping ground of Orlando, FL where the sport is taking off quite nicely I hear.

        Maybe you should try learning something about *OUR* sports. They’re quite good. It’s not a zero sum thing, it is possible have many loves of many different sports and teams. I’ve met many expats who have lived here a while and grown to love the NFL or baseball while maintaining their love of football.

        So with all due respect, get over yourself.

  15. Ryne says:

    If I understand things correctly, which may not be true, Spurs will likely be in Europa League one way or the other due to Fair Play. That said, if they get in through that as opposed to through 5th place, they will have an extra qualification round to go through, which adds several weeks to the front of their season. This would mean having only two weeks for the “off season.”

    *While my numbers might be slightly off, it can’t be argued that Spurs won’t want to fight to the death for fifth to avoid an extra round of qualifications in the Europa League.

  16. mike says:

    Please please please the manu vs Blackpool game on ESPN. I want to see my team lift the throphy(man that feels good when i say it ooooof).So please lads i only care of this game. And please don’t ignore Blackpool Ian has made a fantastic team this season.

  17. Kobashi says:

    Ian Darke in the outro to the game on the weekend said that ESPN 2 will have the most important game of the weekend which of course can be spun any which way given there are so many important games.. My guess is that the United/Blackpool will be on the network with the first choice, the Wolves/Blackburn game is going to be the 2nd choice live game, and Spurs/Brum will be the 3rd choice.

    I think that since United is the most supported Premier League team in the States and is going to get the trophy which means the whole trophy presentation along with the fact they’re playing a relegation straggler in Blackpool it is the automatic first choice. The battle of 2 relegation sides would be the 2nd choice, and a battle of one of the Big 6 and a relegation team makes sense as a 3rd choice. I think that Stoke/Wigan has the chance to be a really good game but doesn’t have the same sizzle as the other 3 games I mentioned.

    I agree with Chris it is paramount that the 3 networks that are airing the games live have them all synched up. For me the Chelsea and the United games last season were soured a bit when the Chelsea game started 5 to 7 minutes before the United game aired. Anekla scored in the 6th minute and it felt like United were chasing the whole first half until they got the games synched up at half time by cutting time from the half time of the United game. Last year I want to say that FSC had the Chelsea/Wigan game, FS+ had the United/Stoke game, and I believe that ESPN2 had the Everton/Portsmouth game which saw Portsmouth relegated.

    As a United fan I’ve seen Fox screw up way too many times over the years late in the season like in 06-07 while United is in line to get their medals they cut back to the studio to Nick Webster’s mug for a couple of minutes instead of showing the players, there was the fiasco last year with the horrible synch job on the 2 live games, and there was this years incident at the end of the last QPR game when Fox decided to cut to a commercial at 10:52a and then to the Villa game at 10:55a while QPR was walking in line out the tunnel to pick up their trophy. Fans of the Championship or QPR didn’t get to see the team that won the league lift the trophy with all the confetti and such on TV here in the States because Fox had to rush early to get to the end break and then the build up of the Villa game. It felt so anticlimactic as they could have just as easy gone to the Villa game at 11am instead of 10:55am so fans of the Championship which Fox showed all season could get to see the payoff of the QPR lifting the trophy.

    I like FSC because they do more futbol than ESPN but FSC should be considered the Mickey Mouse company with their repeated gaffes that take away from the enjoyment of the last game of the season multiple times for me. I’m sure there are a couple other instances over the years where Fox screwed up the last day of the season but they aren’t coming to me now. Fox to me with with their multiple screw ups has struck out too often and I rather see the trophy celebration on ESPN.

  18. Kobashi says:

    One idea I’d like to see tried next season is offering to Fox Sports Net and the Comcast Sports Stations that air Fox Sports Net programming a 2 hour show on the last day of the season where they do a NFL Sunday Blitz show that has the 9 games that Fox has the rights to that they can throw it to the different stadiums as the last day unfolds. I’ve seen streams of the program that Sky airs that has the pundits in the studio analyzing of the television what is happening around all the other grounds in the UK and I think something like that would work out here especially given that Fox has the actual rights to show the video of the games. Of course it could be pre-empted in some markets because of early MLB games but the vast majority of the country that wouldn’t be much of a worry since most MLB games don’t start till 1pm Eastern on Sunday’s anyway. Fox could even try it as a web based show if the local Fox Sports Net and Comcast Sports Stations are not interested in a program like that. Unfortunately I doubt ESPN would let Fox use footage to the game that they have the rights to make it 10 games out of 10.

    BTW did we get a count of how many games actually aired on ESPN2/ESPN3 this season? Remember at the start of the season when the new contract was announced that it was said that 70 to 80 games would air on ESPN platforms. Did they even break 60 this season?

    • olivert says:

      There were 3 mid-week rounds in which the ESPN Networks (including ESPN3.com) took 5 matches each, for a total of 15 matches.

      (The round of matches on December 28-29 was the “Boxing Day Observed” round and ESPN2 took only 2 matches.)

      In addition, there were 23 matches on Saturday mornings at 1245 London Time, 10 matches on Saturday mornings at 1500 London Time, 12 matches on Monday nights at 2000 London Time, and 2 matches on Sundays.

      15 + 2 + 23 + 10 + 12 + 2 = 64 matches

  19. olivert says:

    DIRECTV’s EPG has listed Man Utd vs Blackpool for both ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes.

    Not a surprise to see ESPN, Inc. use its “1st pick” to take Man Utd vs Blackpool.

    ==

    FSI has 3 channels available (FSC, FS+, FOX Deportes) and 3 live matches available that will impact relegation: Tottenham vs Birmingham, Stoke vs Wigan, and Wolves vs Blackpool.

    In addition, FS+ has a time slot available at 1pm ET, and both FSC and FOX Deportes have a time slot available at 5pm ET.

    We know for certain that Fulham vs Arsenal, Bolton vs Manchester City, and Aston Villa vs Liverpool will be live only via FOXsoccer.tv.

  20. Brian says:

    Well if I am ESPN and want to keep the rising interest alive in the US. I’d show Blackpool vs. Man U. On paper by far the most electric affair with the possibility of 7 or 8 goals scored in this one..
    Blackburn vs. Wolves will turn into a defensive struggle and thus to MOST IN USA BORING… Show that on Fox Soccer
    Then Birmingham Vs. Spurs on Fox Soccer PLUS

  21. Nick says:

    I’m hoping ESPN2 shows Man United/Blackpool, title celebration for United is significant as well as this is Blackpool’s last ditch effort to save their spot in the Premier League. And while Blackpool’s last match with United was away and United’s home form is better, it was still easily one of the games of the season.

    I also think you can’t underscore the importance of the Tottenham/Birmingham match and the Wigan/Stoke match which decides who stays up. Certainly Blackburn/Wolves will be important, but not nearly as desperate for those two as any of these three matches.

  22. olivert says:

    Confirmed:

    Man Utd vs Blackpool – ESPN2 HD, ESPN Deportes HD, ESPN3.com (live only)

    Tottenham vs Birmingham – FSC HD

    Wolves vs Blackburn – FS+ HD

    Don’t know yet whether FOX Deportes HD will have Stoke vs Wigan or Tottenham vs Birmingham

  23. Abomb says:

    Has to be wolves vs Blackburn. Will be a cracking atmosphere there and both sides will be going all out for the points. When are these going to be confirmed

  24. LB says:

    Only game I care about is the Manchester United.

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