On the eve of arguably the biggest weekend in the 2012-13 Premier League season thus far, soccer fans in the United States will be watching Chelsea-Manchester United and Everton-Liverpool with the knowledge that this will be the final season that both FOX Soccer and ESPN will be bringing their EPL coverage to us.
Since August 1996, between FOX Soccer and ESPN, they’ve brought us continuous coverage of the English Premier League. ESPN brought us the Premier League from 1996-1998, followed by 2009-2013, while FOX Soccer brought us the EPL from 1998 onwards.
Those 16 years (soon to be 17 when their coverage of the Premier League comes to a close next May) have been a glorious ride, bringing the league from tens of thousands of people to recent TV audiences of more than 1.5 million.
With the news that the joint bid from FOX Soccer-ESPN has failed, I wouldn’t be surprised if we soccer fans will savor our viewing experiences a little bit more this season — whether it’s Ian Darke and Steve McManaman on our Saturday mornings, or the team of Eric Wynalda, Rob Stone and Warren Barton on our weekends.
The growth of the Premier League and soccer in the United States have been a direct result of FOX Soccer and ESPN bringing the sport into our homes. Both networks have radically improved their level of coverage during the last 16 years. And there’s no doubt that they’ve raised the bar.
I’m sure ESPN and FOX Soccer will continue to provide quality coverage for the soccer rights they maintain. Thank you ESPN and FOX for 16, soon to be 17, wonderful years of golden memories. You will not be forgotten.
Read about the history of the Premier League on US television from 1980 to 2007.