Beginning this August, FOX Soccer Plus will play a prominent role in soccer coverage on US television.
In the past, FOX Soccer Plus was the often neglected sister channel of FOX Soccer. But now that FOX Soccer will be shutting down later this summer, and despite the fact that FOX Sports says that no decision had been made in early June about the future of FOX Soccer Plus and FOX Soccer 2GO, it appears now that both will continue running next season, as FOX Sports execs revealed in a recent interview with industry publication Multichannel News.
FOX Sports COO Eric Shanks said:
“FOX Soccer Plus will continue to feature a wide assortment of terrific soccer and rugby matches from UEFA Euro 2016 and 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, CONCACAF Champions League, Gold Cup, Women’s U17 and U20 tournaments; FA Cup; Hyundai A-League; International Challenge Cup; NWSL; UEFA Europa League; 10 different international rugby tournaments and leagues; plus a variety of related highlight, magazine and original programs.”
FOX Sports COO Randy Freer, meanwhile, discussed the role that FOX Sports Go will play, which is the new app to launch in August in conjunction with FOX Sports 1. Freer revealed more details about whether soccer coverage would be available, too:
“We’ll launch Fox Sports Go, an app for authenticated subscribers, in conjunction with Fox Sports 1 with significant ‘couch rights,’ a one-stop experience. It will, of course, be your app for scores, highlights, VOD, but also one’s entry point to FOX Soccer Plus and other vehicles we have. It is a significant move to an aggregated application for TV Everywhere as well as your daily sports habits, like scores, highlights and fantasy. Through it, we’ll have curated channels around our sports pillars that will provide us a leadership position by delivering massive video content across multiple platforms beyond the big screen.”
Details are sketchy, but FOX Soccer 2Go — FOX’s phone, web and tablet platform, will show soccer coverage next season, too.
Of course, FOX has lost the rights to the Premier League to NBC beginning next season, but FOX Sports still has enough soccer rights to split coverage between three channels — FOX Sports 1, FOX Soccer Plus and FOX Soccer 2Go.
Weekday afternoon UEFA Champions League matches will be featured on FOX Sports 1. Since FOX Sports 1 doesn’t have the channel capacity to show multiple games at once, presumably the other games being played at the same time will be spread across FOX Soccer Plus and FOX Soccer 2Go.
In addition to the UEFA Champions League, FOX Sports still has rights to the UEFA Europa League, World Cup 2018 and 2022, Women’s World Cup 2015, FA Cup, FA Community Shield, Scottish Premier League, England national team home matches, Gold Cup, A-League, International Champions Cup and other tournaments.
Having said all that, the challenge with FOX Soccer Plus (and the reason why FOX Soccer 2GO was so vital in previous years) was that the network isn’t available on many TV providers despite launching in 2010. On top of that, the other challenge for FOX is to convince soccer fans to pay the monthly subscription cost to FOX Soccer Plus now that the channel doesn’t include Premier League matches.
Once the TV schedules are released, we’ll have a much better idea of how many and which matches will be shown on each respective channel.