FOX to Broadcast Premier League Live On Free-to-air TV in US: Exclusive

Chelsea vs Man Utd Live On Super Bowl Sunday Plus 3 Premier League Matches on Tape-Delay During NFL Season

FOX Broadcasting Company (NASDAQ:NWS), the national broadcasting network, will televise the first ever Premier League match on free-to-air television in the United States on Sunday, February 5, 2012, according to a source. The clash between Chelsea and Manchester United will be shown live on Super Bowl Sunday beginning at 10:30am ET.

In addition to FOX’s historic coverage of a live Premier League match, the national FOX network will air three Premier League matches on tape-delay during the 2011-12 NFL season. The schedule of games are:

  • Sunday, September 18: Manchester United versus Chelsea (tape delay),
  • Sunday, October 2: Tottenham Hotspur versus Arsenal (tape delay),
  • Sunday, November 20: Chelsea versus Liverpool (tape delay).

The three tape-delay games will air adjacent to live NFL games. The tape-delayed games will be shown at either 2-4pm or 4:30-6:30pm ET — depending on local NFL/FOX programming. Meanwhile, throughout the Premier League season, FOX Soccer and FOX Soccer Plus will continue to show the majority of games for viewers in the United States, while ESPN2 and will show many of the other games.

FOX Broadcasting Company was contacted regarding the news. A spokesperson declined to comment.

If you thought the English Premier League couldn’t get any bigger than it is now in the United States, you thought wrong. FOX Soccer’s ratings for their live coverage of Premier League games have continued to grow, while the national FOX Broadcasting Company are becoming more interested in live soccer coverage especially after considering the successful broadcast of the 2011 Champions League Final between Barcelona and Manchester United, which was the most watched Champions League Final in US history.

In previous years, the biggest Premier League match on Super Bowl Sunday had been shown on FOX Soccer. The 2011 game between Chelsea and Liverpool was the most-watched FOX Soccer broadcast of all time with 418,000 average viewers. The 2010 Super Bowl Sunday clash between Chelsea and Arsenal garnered 403,000 average viewers, which was also shown on FOX Soccer.

For the 2011 coverage of Chelsea against Liverpool, FOX Soccer kicked off their coverage with a special edition of its weekly pre-match show, Super Sunday +, live from the set of FOX NFL Sunday.  The FOX Soccer pundits were joined by a studio audience featuring supporters from both clubs.

FOX’s coverage of a live Premier League match on US television will give MLS and NBC some competition. MLS fans were raving earlier this week about the prospect of seeing a live MLS game on NBC beginning with the 2012 season, which typically kicks off in March. NBC Sports Network recently won the MLS TV rights that FOX Soccer used to own.

One other consideration about FOX’s coverage of the Premier League will be whether they’ll continue to leave out the diehard fans who seek quality in-depth coverage in favor of attracting a mainstream audience to the sport, like they did with the 2011 UEFA Champions League Final. The audience for Chelsea against Manchester United on FOX Broadcasting Company will be more mainstream than FOX Soccer, but hopefully there’s an opportunity for FOX to find a compromise where the analysis and coverage of the game satisfies both the newcomer and diehard fan.


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