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:
- 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.
- 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.