After FOX lost in their joint bid with ESPN to secure the US media rights to the Premier League for seasons 2013-16, one of the unlikely winners of the decision is the FA Cup. With FOX only having five months of the Premier League remaining before they “hand over the keys” to NBC Sports, FOX has decided to boost its coverage of the FA Cup by moving two of its matches to the free-to-air FOX network (as we reported a few weeks ago).
The first of those FA Cup games to be shown live on FOX to a nationwide TV audience is this Saturday at Noon ET when West Ham United plays Manchester United in the third round of the FA Cup. The other match that FOX will show live is the FA Cup Final on May 11, 2013.
While FOX has left than six months remaining in its contract with the Premier League, FOX has the US media rights to the FA Cup through the 2017-18 season. That provides FOX several major opportunities to continue broadcasting live English football games through 2018, when FOX has the rights to the FIFA World Cup. While the number of FA Cup matches is limited (from January through May when Premier League teams participate in the tournament), this gives FOX an excellent opportunity to continue to be in the faces of English soccer fans in addition to its coverage of the UEFA Champions League and Europa League.
For FOX, one of the risks of showing live soccer matches on its free-to-air network is trying to ensure that all of the FOX affiliates nationwide will agree to show the game live, so be sure to check your local listings to ensure the game will be shown live. If you miss it, the match will be shown on delay at 2:30pm ET on FOX Soccer.
As an aside, one of the disappointments regarding TV coverage of soccer on US television is that the US Open Cup doesn’t get the same level of attention or media coverage that the English FA Cup does. Nevertheless, there’s no doubting how prestigious and wonderful the FA Cup is to watch especially in the third round when there are often shock results. If any competition sums up the English game, it’s the FA Cup. And therefore FOX’s decision to elevate the FA Cup to a larger US audience is a welcome move indeed.