Why EPL Games Shown on ESPN3 Should Be Available On Demand Too

espn3 Why EPL Games Shown on ESPN3 Should Be Available On Demand Too

If you live in the United States and watch Premier League games on ESPN3.com, this has probably happened to you before. But this happened to me for the first time this season. I got caught in the trap of not being able to watch a game live on ESPN3.com, but the broadcast was only shown live and wasn’t available on ESPN2, nor on delay or on demand.

As luck would have it, it ended up being Swansea City’s most complete performance of the season after beating Fulham 3-0 at Craven Cottage. It was the first Swansea match of the season that I missed. But the point of this article is that it could have been any two teams — perhaps featuring your favorite club. In this day and age, it’s ridiculous that select games are only available to watch live on ESPN3.com, especially in an age where we’re constantly time shifting and recording programs to watch at different times.

Sadly for me, there was no way I could watch this one live. The game was sandwiched between a four hour stint at the local AYSO soccer field, watching my two daughters play in separate games to kick off their season. I wouldn’t miss it for the world, but it meant that I had to sacrifice not seeing Swansea play.

The policy of having select ESPN3.com games only available for live streaming is awful. Having select games not available on demand is a limit of the sublicense agreement that is between FOX Soccer and ESPN3. But who does that policy benefit? How does it serve customers? And is it being done to encourage soccer fans who miss the game to just go to FOXSoccer.com to watch the highlights instead?

In my opinion, the policy benefits only those who are able to watch the game live and FOX themselves. Anyone who misses the live broadcast of the game is left in no mans land. Going back to the example of the Fulham-Swansea game that had ended before I got home, the choices I faced were: 1) I could wait five hours to watch the highlights of the game on FOXSoccer.com, or 2) I could watch the highlights immediately on 101 Great Goals. Being a passionate Swansea City fan who was eager to find out the score and see the highlights, I chose the latter.

Does the policy serve the customers? Absolutely not. Is it being done to encourage fans to watch highlights on FOXSoccer.com instead? Perhaps but that option is woefully inadequate. Expecting fans to wait hours to see footage is backwards.

A better solution would be to give ESPN the permission to allow games that they sublicense from FOX to be shown live and on demand via ESPN3.com. Hopefully the policy will change in future seasons.

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 →
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16 Responses to Why EPL Games Shown on ESPN3 Should Be Available On Demand Too

  1. CTBlues says:

    I can’t stand how ESPN runs ESPN3.com in general. The fact that I am locked out of an INTERNET service because my cable provider wont make a deal with them is a joke and it goes against net neutrality. The net is not cable I should have an option to pay for ESPN3 if I want it.

  2. Anthony says:

    I agree, there are some games that come on while I’m at work and the Remote Access option never works for me so I’m relegated to watching highlights.

  3. Jean says:

    Ever heard of ESPN Deportes and a slingbox?? You could’ve used your phone to watch the game since it was on ESPN Deportes, unless you didn’t want to pay that much to get 1 channel, then I understand your point. But, it was on TV, just not on basic cable…

  4. Paul says:

    ESPN3 is a joke. I have time warner for my internet access and the only allow me to get ESPN3 with the actual TV cable subsciption. This of course is not happening becuse their TV service is awful.

    I hope this isnt the future. Where most of the games I want to watch (Newcastle United) are only availalbe on ESPN3 or by internet streaming. From what I see this service and the fox soccer 2 go isn’t all that great.

    I hope Al Jazeera doesnt get the EPL rights. Then we are all in trouble.

  5. David the Yank says:

    Strangely, I fell into Gaffer’s trap too, but after missing the match live, I went to the espn3.com web site and the match was there anyway!!

    Shhhhhhhhhh, but I saw all 3 Swansea goals, and then about 65 minutes in, the match was cut off.

    The policy is a horrendous one by Fox, so they should either put the match up on foxsoccer.tv on-demand or allow espn3.com to show it on demand too. Either works, either is very very simple for them to do, and I urge Fox to correct this.

  6. Mark says:

    …or you can just search for the hundreds of free streaming channels that stream countless live sports including the Swansea match you wanted to watch.

    • Tommy says:

      Mark-

      I’m assuming you neglected to read any of the actual article but if you had you would have realized that he couldn’t watch the games live therefore streams would be of no use to him in this case. If he could have seen it live he would have watched it on espn3…

  7. brn442 says:

    Never happened to me – as I don’t have access to ESPN 3 here in New York.

  8. Mprovise says:

    Until recently, I was happy to catch a few matches in big tournaments, and like many American sports fans, I had no idea what I was missing.

    Since the most recent NFL lockout, however, my attention has turned to soccer-futbol in earnest, and it’s been an eye-opening experience. For the most part, ESPN3 has been fantastic; games from leagues and international competitions all over the world available each week, usually whenever I want to watch them.

    Several months later though, and I understand what you’re saying. I’m at the point of either grabbing the biggest cable package for a couple soccer channels or paying for the Fox Soccer online service.

    ESPN Soccernet has programming available online that I’d much rather watch than the bowling, poker, or snooker retrospectives usually available on the deuce, ESPN2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37JAQIiUEOE&feature=endscreen&NR=1.

  9. Lyle says:

    I watched this game on ESPN online… I’m a Fulham fan. Swansea held court all game long. Sucks it is not on demand. Online TV is still working itself out.

  10. dominjon says:

    Seems like the issue is with the Fox contract with ESPN. Is that contract renewed for next season? Maybe lobbying Fox might work. Even a delay until next day rule might still be beneficial and allow you to get it at midnight, the same way Fox’s own internet site works. Or a watch live free or watch on demand for $2. Then Fox and ESPN could share the money.

  11. Cody says:

    My cable provider doesn’t even offer Fox Soccer. So when ESPN2 decides to show an EPL game, I’m like a kid on christmas day. ESPN3 is spotty for me. I tried to watch Fulham v Swansea, but it froze up right after Swansea’s first goal and never would re-load. I have Gol TV, which is worthless unless you are obsessed with Boca Juniors.

  12. Chicago Yeti says:

    The last two weeks on ESPN3.com when I’ve tried to watch live EPL games I get a box telling me I have to put in my cable provider etc. I don’t have cable! So now I can’t watch these games. I watch games at the Globe Pub in Chicago frequently but I’d like to watch them at home from time to time. And as for live streaming options on the internet (on questionable sites) I’ve hardly ever found one that actually works. Any idea if ESPN3 is just doing this for certain games or is this for all EPL games from now on?

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