United States Men’s National Team fans, if you haven’t had a reason to lobby your local carrier for the new beIn Sport network, you just might have one now.
The rumors I spoke of on this week’s MLSTalk Podcast have come to fruition, and beIn Sport has acquired the rights to the upcoming away fixtures for the USMNT, starting with September’s match in Kingston, Jamaica.
From the release:
“By securing these exclusive TV rights, beIN SPORT again shows why it’s the place for U.S. fans to be in the best soccer action in the world,” said Yousef Al Obaidly, managing director of beIN SPORT. “Fans can now cheer on the U.S. men’s team as they compete on the world stage, and they can see it only on beIN SPORT.”
beIn Sport has already been added to DirecTV and Dish Network on their respective sports tiers, and a recent tweet from the Comcast Cares account suggests that the newcomer, a subsidiary of al Jazeera, is close to a carriage agreement with the cable giant. While owning the US distribution rights for Spain’s La Liga, Italy’s Serie A, and France’s Ligue 1 was already enough to get the satellite providers on board, nabbing the rights to important World Cup qualification matches may convince large land-based carriers that beIn Sport is committed to offering a high-quality product that many will watch.
One of the highlights of this news in my book is the possibility that Phil Schoen and Ray Hudson could be providing the play-by-play of these qualifiers. They have honed their partnership through many La Liga matches at GolTV, and now they could very well be commentating pivotal matches for the USMNT.
The release also indicates that beInSport will commit to airing matches from the Fourth Round, also known as the Hexagonal, should the United States advance from their Third Round Group A. [Ed. note – due to existing rights agreements, beIn Sport would not be able to broadcast a Hexagonal match at Estadio Azteca vs. Mexico. h/t Steven Goff of the Washington Post]
Additionally, the network has also gobbled up the rights to the matches of the remaining CONCACAF countries, less Mexico. We have no way of knowing how those matches will be shown, whether on their English channel or exclusively on the Spanish-language channel. There are hints that an online platform similar to FOXSoccer2Go may be in the works, but nothing concrete has been revealed.
What that means in the short term is that satellite subscribers will certainly be able to watch the Stars and Stripes in their away matches against Jamaica as well as Antigua and Barbuda. If you subscribe to one of the large cable or FIOS distributors, I would recommend bugging them regularly if you want to see these matches. Gone is the pay-per-view setup, which likely means you couldn’t even buy it as a single event if you wanted. The better news might be that there should be even less guesswork as to which soccer pub might be ponying the dough for the game – if a bar has satellite, they can almost certainly tune in to beIn Sport now.