FOX Soccer or FOX: Where Should Select Super Sunday Premier League Matches Air In The U.S.?

Premier League soccer on TV is at an important crossroads in the United States. The interest in the league is growing by such leap and bounds that several Premier League matches have graduated from FOX Soccer to the free-to-air FOX network (Sunday’s Arsenal-Man United game scored an 0.9 rating). However, with these changes come growing pains. For TV viewing numbers to grow from 300,000-500,000 to 1.5 million and beyond, Premier League matches have to be shown on national free-to-air networks such as FOX instead of niche sports channels like FOX Soccer. But in order to do so, it takes the cooperation of more than 100 FOX stations nationwide to each show the game at the same time, and that’s not an easy feat.

That begs the question: For Premier League soccer to move more into the mainstream, is it worth the pain of having games on FOX? Not that we have a choice or much control in the matter, but should FOX Soccer continue the policy of showing select Premier League matches on FOX in order for the sport to grow in this country? If so, isolated soccer fans across the United States will be at the mercy of their local FOX affiliates and may not be able to watch live matches. But if we are to break on through to the other side and get larger viewing audiences, we will have to persevere with local FOX stations, and get on their backs when they decide not to show matches live.

Or should we? We could continue to have Super Sunday games shown live on FOX Soccer where we’re guaranteed that if the schedule says it’ll be on TV, it’ll be on. Share your feedback in the comments below regarding which method you prefer, and whether you care about the growth of the Premier League and soccer because let’s face it — the two best hopes for soccer making it bigger in America is either the US men’s national team winning a World Cup, or the Premier League becoming part of the US sports fabric.

The addition of Arsenal versus Manchester United to FOX’s calendar was a decision that was made on December 5, 2011. According to an industry source, because FOX put Arsenal vs Manchester United on the FOX broadcast network with less than 6 months notice, FOX affiliates not owned by NewsCorp were under no obligation to clear the time slot for the match. Thus we arrived at yesterday’s situation where six of the major markets in the United States didn’t show the game live, while there were 14 other FOX stations in smaller markets who did the same.

Disappointing and frustrating, yes. But why did it take an exclusive story by EPL Talk on Saturday morning to be the first to make viewers (and soccer fans) aware that the game wasn’t going to be shown live in some markets? The way that FOX viewers were treated in those markets that were affected is disgraceful. For several weeks, we’ve seen advertising on FOX stations across the United States that promoted #EpicSunday. And then many of those stations didn’t even show the game live. And many of the ones that showed it on delay then didn’t air it in HD.

Infomercials instead of soccer on WAGA FOX Atlanta (Photo by @thechrismartz)

To make matters worse, the programming that aired instead of the live Arsenal-Manchester United game was, depending on the FOX station, an assortment of infomercials (see above), a rerun of the flop Corky Romano, church programming and/or reruns of local programming. Each of the FOX stations listed below should be ashamed of the way they handled the situation.

At the same time, there was little to no response on social media from the FOX stations (or FOX Sports, as they promised). The only official response I saw from one of the FOX stations was to pass the buck. Unless I missed it (if so, please let me know in the comments section below), soccer fans venting on Facebook and Twitter were ignored by FOX stations on social media. The silence was deafening.

Remember that the fight is far from over. When Chelsea plays Manchester United on February 5, Super Bowl Sunday, and the game kicks off at 11am ET, there’s no guarantee that your local FOX station is going to show the game live. And you won’t be able to watch it live on FOX Soccer. That next game is only 13 days away, so it’s never too early to begin contacting your FOX station to ask whether they’ll be showing it live. And applying pressure on them to ensure they don’t make the same mistake again that they did yesterday.

If you think this is a one-time occurrence, think again. While there should be fewer issues with FOX stations not showing live Premier League games because they’ve been given adequate notice ahead of time, FOX Sports plans on showing select Premier League Super Sunday matches on the free-to-air FOX network next season, and may add one more than what they’ve shown this season. Read the interesting interview with a FOX Sports Media Group executive.

Soccer fans share their outrage on FOX 5 Atlanta Facebook's page

Here are the FOX stations that should be embarrassed by their decision not to show the game live (that aired infomercials and reruns instead).

FOX stations Hall of Shame: 

  • WSVN (Miami/Fort Lauderdale),
  • WAGA (Atlanta),
  • WITI (Milwaukee),
  • WJW (Cleveland),
  • WRAZ (Raleigh/Durham),
  • WXIN (Indianapolis),
  • WBRC (Birmingham),
  • KHMT (Billings),
  • WXXV (Biloxi),
  • WICZ (Binghamton),
  • WHNS (Greenville),
  • WZDX (Huntsville),
  • WGXA (Macon),
  • KPTM (Omaha),
  • WFXR (Roanoke),
  • WTGS (Savannah),
  • KRBK (Springfield, MO),
  • WTHI (Terre Haute),
  • WTRF (Wheeling),
  • WYFX (Youngstown).

PS — For those of you who had a chance to watch the FOX broadcast, I should add that the actual production was FOX’s best yet for their Super Sunday matches on the free-to-air network. Rob Stone looked tired under his makeup, but he played the role as host well, while I found Piers Morgan and Eric Wynalda to both be adequate. The analysis wasn’t explosive, but I found Morgan’s opinions to be heartfelt and opinionated. It’s just a shame that not everyone had a chance to see it live.

38 thoughts on “FOX Soccer or FOX: Where Should Select Super Sunday Premier League Matches Air In The U.S.?”

  1. I didn’t even know it was airing on local FOX until I saw it on your blog AFTER the game was over. I did watch it on my laptop but missing it on the local station hurt cuz I could have helped with ratings. It’s partly my fault because I don’t watch TV that often. Maybe once in 3 weeks! lol. I know. Weird. Now that I know, I’m definitely not missing the Man U vs Chelsea game!! 😀

    1. Unless you are a Nielsen household with a ratings box attached to your tv, you watching or not watching has no affect on ratings.

      1. Is that right? Maybe I’m getting used to the whole “Big Brother” thing, but I thought that companies like Comcast, Directv and Dish Networks could gauge the number of people watching by monitoring who is watching what, how many people DVR’d it (and if so, when/if it was watched)….

        Is this not the case?

        1. Companies may be able to do as you suggest (although I’m not sure it would be legal), but currently TV ratings come from Nielsen households as noted by Chumley.

  2. FOX should show Sunday EPL game(s) and if the local FOX channel decide to show informercials, FOX Soccer should just show the game too.

    FOX reaches ALL of Americans who have a TV and a digital antenna (huge population!).
    FOX Soccer reaches only the faithful, who are willing (and capable) of shelling out $100 / month for TV shows.

    From yesterday alone, I was contemplating purchasing HD soccer content ( or FOX Soccer) due to the high quality (HD) feed. It’s great advertising for EPL, FOX Soccer, and paid cable/satellite.

  3. If the numbers are good those 20 affiliates will jump on board. It’s all about money…those 20 stations either had a contractual obligation to show the informercials or they made the decision based on revenue.

  4. I was thoroughly pissed. I invited my friends over for 10:30am…only to find an infomercial about buying foreclosed homes. (I’m in Atlanta). Luckily I’m a block away from Fado’s and even they couldn’t get it on….they had to go to Fox Deportes.
    I’ll be applying pressure to WAGA to show the Chelsea-United game live.

    I think having Fox show the big games live OTA is a good move….especially once the NFL season is over. Loyal FSC subscribers will still pay for the channels for the other games. And if it’s one thing, Americans do love sitting on the couch on a Sunday.

  5. I hear A lot of People Blaming the Affiliate but not Blaming Big Fox its self.. Fox should have the disclaimerdisclaimer “check local listings” like they usually do. But it kinda was bad anyway because fox doesn’t have a complete say so on all of their Affiliates and its also unsual that live sports are shown that early in the morning on FTA tv unless its the olympics. But still soccer has a way to go. I do Admit Fox did as best it could getting the word out but I guess didn’t bother to explian this hiccup to the masses, but look on the bright side, Fox managed to get something out there. So don’t wine so much. As for the Atlanta residents like myself, Football is King in the South, and church is Queen. LOL

  6. As an Arsenal-supporting Clevelander who lived through yesterday’s double fiasco that was the non-HD delayed showing of the game (triple fiasco if you consider the final outcome of the game) I think the Super Sunday games should be shown live in HD on Fox Soccer and either live or on delay on the local Fox affiliate.

    But the most disappointing part of yesterday’s experience was the absence of the live broadcast from Fox Soccer.

    The national coverage is great for attracting new soccer fans and introducing the game to a new audience. That audience, however, does not necessarily care whether those games are shown live or not. The soccer fans who pay the Fox Soccer and Fox Soccer Plus monthly fees do – and they should not be left to the mercy of the local Fox affiliate.

  7. I had it live and in HD which was nice since the FSC HD feed sucks. I would still pick the games being shown on FSC rather than FOX itself. That way I’ll always know its on and no matter what.

  8. Since Comcast compresses Fox Soccer so much that it usually looks like crap I’d prefer to see the matches on Fox. The players didn’t have pixels dancing around them on the wide shots from the low quality feed like they tend to do on Fox Soccer.

    1. “FOX O/O station” — translated… a station owned and operated by FOX. Hopefully you’re joking about telling people to move just so they can be in an area that has an owned-and-operated FOX station?

      The Gaffer

  9. Feed here in Atlanta was awful…very poor showing
    I was out at sons practice, so had to tape the match anyway, very disappointed in the feed.

    One thing to note…taking a step back in all of this…It wasnt so long ago that all we got was a one hour wrap up show on thursday nights and while I am pissed that the Atlanta, and other cities, Fox affiliates didnt show the match live, I AM mindful of just how far coverage in the states has come since 1990 when I first arrived in the USA and had to sit through a World Cup on TNT with ad breaks every 15 minutes of a live game!! (remember THAT! and Ernie!!)
    To have 90% of Fox affiliates show the match live is not bad…not perfect…but not bad
    #OccupyFox…We are the 10% 😉

  10. I said this yesterday and I will say it again: SIMULCAST!!!

    Here’s what you do: You provide identical prematch shows running on both stations where the hosts promote you switch to Fox due to its greater bandwidth for a better viewing experience, so that way everyone who can tune into fox has the opportunity to do so. That way, you get maximum viewership in the markets who have their act together and are providing a live broadcast. Air the games simultaneously on Fox and Fox Soccer so the die hard fans who pay for this service are GUARANTEED to see these huge matches. What was FSC even airing during the Arsenal-United match, FA Archives or something?

    This way you will have everyone tuning into fox if it is possible, and no one will get left out in the cold. I am angry about yesterday, regardless of the fact that I live in a market that aired the game live and uninterrupted (unlike the Champions League Final last year)

  11. If the goal is to broadent the scope the EPL in the United States then FOX needs to show more matches on the local affiliates.

    With that said, however, FOX needs to do a better job of advertising when the matches are. Most of the advertising for the Manchester United/Arsenal match was done during FOX’s NFL coverage. Therefor, if a person was not a fan of the NFL, they would have no way of knowing about the match.

    This leads me to think that the numbers for the Manchester United/Chelsea match will be low because FOX’s coverage of the NFL is over for the season.

  12. If you’re like me, and you have to purchase a huge $30+, 40 channel sports package to have one channel, then FOX is the proper channel for the big matches. It would not only benefit the big club watchers, but it would leave room on Fox soccer channel for the Championship and bottom half of the table matches that never air live.

    1. Fox would still want to make money on FSC and FS+. It’d be nice if there were more games for free, but if the local affiliates can haggle the time they show the game, that messes stuff up greatly.

      I’m in Northeast Ohio and the video quality was almost that of YouTube… and it wasn’t live. I felt like I was watching a taped game from a number of years ago.

  13. I live in the Raleigh/Durham tv market which did not show the game live,however I attached on over the air anntenna on my tv and was able to watch the game [with a great picture quality] from another tv market.

    1. I’m in the Raleigh area too and was pissed to find the game was being delayed 1 hour for a church service. Great idea on the antenna. Since Fox is broadcasting some other matches on Fox, which channel from another market were you able to find?

  14. Why can’t Fox Soccer and Fox show it but have Fox Soccer blacked out by the cable/satellite provider if the local Fox affiliate is going to show it. This is what happens when baseball games are shown on 2 different channels.

    Personally, I would prefer ESPN to buy the rights to these big games and show it on ESPN/2 . That way everyone gets the opportunity to view it live.

    1. Lately, ESPN having the rights to show EPL is no guarantee it’ll be on ESPN2. A can recall 2 games in that past month the were only shown on ESPN3 and ESPN Deportes.

      Personally, I like the idea of EPL on FOX if it means that the early game gets promoted from FS+ to FS. Maybe, ESPN will get the hint and start promoting ESPN2 games to ABC.

  15. I was pleased that Fox had the match on the Fox network. I have never been a fan of Rob Stone but I thought he was decent and certainly an improvement over Christian Miles. I liked Piers Morgan and his passion for Arsenal. I’d like more of this type of punditry. I consider myself fortunate that AT&T Uverse is my provider. I have an excellent HD picture on Fox Soccer and Fox Soccer Plus. I also subscribe to Fox Soccer TV for my iPad. Obviously I’m paying a lot of money per month to see every EPL match but I love it. Thanks to Fox for making all of this possible. Also ESPN has the best coverage. Ian Darke is the best.

  16. Advance notice for those of you in the San Francisco/San Jose/Oakland TV market:

    Chelsea vs Manchester United on February 5 (7:30am PT pre-game, 8am PT kickoff) will air on KICU-DT 36.1 “TV 36”, not KTVU “FOX 2”.

    COX Television, which owns both KICU and KTVU, makes way too much money with local morning news on KTVU.

    Note that COX loses a little bit of money by putting the match on KICU instead of airing infomercials. Local advertisers have virtually no interest in purchasing the 2 minutes per hour of advertising available to local breaks during the match.

  17. Until i get Fox Soccer HD… i would much rather watch the games on Fox… It is so painful going from beautiful games on ESPN2 In HD… to that crap i get on Fox soccer. This week the scoreboards were messed up during the MC v Arsenal game, that the MC of Man City wasn’t even shown. There are also times when the sounds on the field are delayed. You see the ball kicked, and then you hear it 7 second later. 2 weeks ago during the Chelsea game… Lampard was celebrating before the sound of Fernando Torres kicking the ball into the cross bar happened.

  18. WTRF-Fox Ohio Valley already has Chelsea v Man U scheduled for 2:30 on tape delay. Hopefully it goes better than Sunday’s taped replay. They edited out the goal at the end of the first half when they edited out half time. It was disgraceful.

  19. I’m torn. I want to see the games live, not on replay on FOX….but I also have Comcast, so Fox Soccer is not in HD, whereas the FOX games are. I want games live, on FOX in HD. That’s my answer!

  20. What is needed is a high profile politician or entertainer taking this cause nationwide and putting pressure on TV stations to show the game live or allowing another TV station to air it live. Maybe Piers Morgan can bring to light this issue on his CNN show.

    The best way to get TV stations to show the game live is to have everyone you know contact the station to complain. Also not a bad idea to write to your local newspaper to voice your disapproval. The more people who are aware of this the better.

  21. Just a heads-up, as a Clevelander, I emailed them last night to see if they were going to show the Feb 5 game live, and they are NOT. The game is on the schedule to show at noon. And they probably will continue to run the network promos saying it will be live, even when they know it won’t be. (They ran all the live promos for the Man U vs Arsenal game even AFTER the game was already started and they weren’t showing it.)

  22. Just peeked ahead on my Comcast guide…Fox in Atlanta again shows coverage starting at 12:30.


    I’ll be at the bar.

    1. Wayne’s suggestion leads me to think of this: find the way to contact your LOCAL station. Don’t worry about all the stations. Just make sure YOUR Fox affiliate hears from you.

      It’s more effective to thank the stations that carried the game; to pillory the ones that didn’t clear it has some value, but thanking the stations that carried it will work even better.

      We want all the stations which carried the game to be sure to clear future offerings. Eventually the stragglers will come on board.

      Find your local FOX station’s website. Usually there’s a link saying “Contact us.” Send a message to the general manager or the program manager, thanking them for carrying the match (or complaining if they didn’t).

      Great idea, Wayne,

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