The Battle of the Daily Soccer US TV Shows: ESPN FC vs FOX Soccer Daily

In the last two weeks, we’ve seen two new daily soccer news programs launch on American television — FOX Soccer Daily and ESPN FC.

The addition of these two new shows meant that we bid adieu to their predecessors. FOX Soccer Daily debuted today on FOX Sports 1, replacing FOX Soccer News, the Toronto-based program that was produced in partnership with Rogers. Meanwhile, ESPN pulled the plug on the US broadcast of ESPN Press Pass during late July in time for the August 11 launch of ESPN FC on US television.

Comparing the two programs at this early stage provides a vivid contrast. ESPN FC has proven to be a program that features a wide array of personalities, pundits and opinions. The program’s two rotating hosts, Dan Thomas and Max Bretos, are experienced presenters that have covered the game for years. Thomas’s style on ESPN Press Pass was to push his guests on controversial subjects, where he excelled in generating an environment where vibrant discussions were commonplace. The likes of Craig Burley, Shaka Hislop, Steve Nicol, Taylor Twellman and Gab Marcotti are opinionated and have shown an ability to respectfully stake out positions perhaps outside the mainstream of prevailing thought but with merit. After a rocky start the first night, ESPN FC has been thoroughly entertaining and engrossing since. Though my one critique is that with a run-time of 30 minutes, the show tries to cram too much into each episode. For example, in today’s episode, it would have been better to have a longer feature with The Guardian‘s Raphael Honigstein on the Bundesliga, but the format didn’t allow for a discussion longer than just a few minutes about this past weekend in Germany.

In comparison, FOX Soccer Daily doesn’t have the wide variety of talented pundits or commentators that ESPN FC offers. Host Julie Stewart-Binks is hardly a veteran soccer expert, but she showed her professionalism in the first show where she grasped topics as varied as Jose Mourinho, Barcelona and Landon Donovan. While Eric Wynalda is generally excellent and opinionated, his views seemed scripted and even forced in the initial show. Likewise, Warren Barton’s comments were predictable. Both will certainly grow into this format as they partnered well with Rob Stone on FOX Soccer’s Premier League coverage prior to the channel losing the league’s rights to NBC Sports.

FOX Soccer Daily‘s insider is Grant Wahl, who is well versed on US soccer news, but doesn’t have the depth of reporting that the ESPN FC team has. He’s no competition for Marcotti, Honigstein or Sid Lowe.

In both ESPN FC and FOX Soccer Daily, the broadcasters have made coverage of Major League Soccer and the US national team a major priorty. But when it comes to covering the global game, FOX’s program will offer some good analysis from Wynalda and Barton, but FOX Soccer Daily will not have the variety of in-depth opinions that ESPN’s team will provide. As a side note, the ESPN FC has also made some coverage of Mexican club soccer a priority.

Overall, my biggest complaint about FOX Soccer Daily are the obnoxious, on-screen graphics that take up practically half the screen and distract the viewer from the highlights and discussions. The presentation of ESPN FC is cleaner and more subtle, to say the least.

For soccer fans in the United States, it’s wonderful to have both programs on mainstream television, offering a variety of opinions and more exposure to the sport of soccer in this country. However at this early stage, it appears ESPN has developed a more complete and watchable program despite FOX’s debut show not being as poor as I had first feared.

It would be remiss of me if I didn’t comment on the retirement of the FOX Soccer News and ESPN Press Pass shows. Although many of you may disagree with me, the much maligned FOX Soccer News program will be sorely missed. The nightly soccer show offered more highlights from across the globe than either ESPN FC or FOX Soccer Daily. In my opinion, the Canadian-based show was perhaps the most informative hour of soccer on US television. The show featured expert opinions from the cast including Winnipeg-based Bobby McMahon, who has long been considered among the most informed observers of the game on North American television. Unfortunately, it appears that none of these excellent, opinionated pundits will have a role on the new FOX show.

Equally, ESPN Press Pass was a jewel of expert opinions that was overlooked by many due to it being televised in the middle of the night in the United States.

ESPN FC airs nightly on ESPN2 weeknights at 5:30pm ET and Sunday nights beginning at midnight. FOX Soccer Daily airs daily on FOX Sports 1 at 4pm ET.

What’s your opinion about ESPN FC and FOX Soccer Daily? Give us your viewpoints in the comments section below.

38 thoughts on “The Battle of the Daily Soccer US TV Shows: ESPN FC vs FOX Soccer Daily”

  1. Both shows being on during my commute home doesn’t really help things. Obviously I could DVR them, but the there’s not really a point in that for me. I mainly used Fox Soccer News as a recap for the games that I missed that day since I could only really fit 1 Champions league game or whatever weekday competition was going on. I think there’s now a gap in the market and I also hope shows like the Champions League and Europa League recaps make it onto one of the Fox channels.

    1. Arguing against myself here, but maybe they will have highlights of that weekday’s action. In my head, they end at 7 since that’s when I finish on my DVR, but that’s clearly not the case 😉

  2. The good news is that the Canadian Fox Soccer Report staff can continue to do the show from their homes…if they round up a few neighborhood kids, the drop in audience will be minimal.

    1. I loved the Winnipeg crew. The Toronto gang just never caught on with me the same way that the Manitoba based team did.

      Over time soccer fans will come to miss the consistency of the hour long Fox Soccer Reports. I know I will out of the gate as the program was comfy socks that I could watch and get my soccer fix everyday.

      I owe most of my soccer interest in the EPL Review Show and the FOX Soccer Report. God the first few FSWR were horrible but they got into the groove and produced a damn good show given the amount of cash that was invested to produce it.

  3. I’m glad that FS+ will reair Fox Soccer Daily at 7pm. It’s too bad they can’t air the show at 6:30p and then air the day’s Sky Sports News Through The Night that traditionally aired in that time period at 7pm.

    I did watch Crowd Goes Wild and they did incorporate the Prem into the show talking Brad Guzan and Regis and the comedian/tennis player talked about the team they picked. Regis played it up for laughs of course.

    I thought Georgie Thompson was fantastic and she could be the break out star of the network if the show catches on. She has a personality where I am interested in what she is going to say next because the conversation can go anywhere that most female sports hosts don’t have. Beadle is the nearest comp in terms of expressing her personality on TV. I was really impressed with how she pretty much moderated the show and set the other people on the show up.

  4. I do like both. I really only follow the Premier League so I guess I am still in-between as I am waiting for which side goes deeper with the EPL. I am right now in favor of Fox Soccer Daily only because it is an hour long. I do think their roots with Fox Soccer only helps them. With that all being said, I couldn’t be happier that NBC Sports took on covering the PL. The seriousness and focus has blown me away. I am hooked. Go Sunderland.

  5. Press Pass also had no rights to show highlights in the US on TV or the internet which didn’t help. I used to just listen to the podcast instead.

  6. The air times are an issue for us, too. I don’t see why we would dvr a 4pm show to watch at 7pm when there are other options for live news–for now we continue to watch ssn at 7 (or later) by other means (we are English so enjoy the full recap of the day-football, cricket, rugby).

    It looks like the Fox show aired today and airs Thurs but I don’t see it tomorrow or Wed (post CL?) and Friday Nascar is listed at 4pm. They won’t find a regular audience this way.

    I suppose we should give the ESPN show a go to see what highligts etc they cover.

  7. Does anyone know if NBC is going to show the Premeir League Review show on Sunday nights at 8pm EST like FSC used to? Was definitely the best hour on TV.

    Also, any suggestions on where to go for nightly highlights now that FSR is gone?

    1. NBC Sports Network is showing the Premier League Review Show tonight at 2am (i.e. Tuesday morning).

      For me, the best place to go for soccer highlights is the Internet. By the time TV shows them, they’re old news.

      1. I don’t get the complaints about trading the Review Show for NBC’s MOTD/MOTD2.

        45 minutes of highlights sans analysis vs. 2.25 hours of highlights with analysis

          1. EPL review is all about highlights, most people just want to watch highlights and not watch people talk for hours. I prefer epl review over MOTD!!

    2. I definitely agree. I liked being able to get highlights from all the matches over the weekend and then a postgame snippit from managers.

  8. The point about the nightly Report show from Fox covering ALL the leagues is an important one for me. I remember watching Coppa Italia and Bundesliga highlights this weekend and wondering where that is all going to come from in the future. It seems that the ESPN FC Sunday night show will cover a sampling of highlights from various leagues (including Portugal!) but that’s it. Maybe Bein has one? I dunno. Also being on ESPN 2 on Sunday night that show is in grave danger of constant delays from other shows running long. DVR alert.

    Personally I was never a fan of Dan Thomas’ typical ESPN approach to debate posing silly scenarios to get the pundits to react (especially Tommy Smyth who thankfully hasn’t shown up yet) but I always appreciated Max Bretos.

    The 4pm air time (with no reair) of Fox Soccer Daily strikes me as odd. First of all their first shore started during halftime of an EPL game on NBC. Who is going to watch? The show would have been better if it could air at 5 or later at night but I guess this was the best timeslot they could do? But why not run it at night on FS2 at least? It’s not even online yet (I don’t think) because Fox Sports To Go isn’t a thing yet.

    Until I can ween myself off onto a replacement show, I’m afraid SSN via stream is still going to be a tp thing for me.

    On a semi related note, FS1 has sold me on Crowd Goes Wild (w/Regis and Georgie) and Fox Football Daily (handegg). Much better than I thought they would be. However I can’t wait to see how they manage schedules if/when Champions League 2nd leg knockout matches go into extra time.

    1. I personally can not STAND Max Bretos and actually like Tommy Smyth. He cuts to the chase and brings it right to you. NO beating around the bush, you have to be able to back your statement when voicing your opinion. Oh how i absolutely miss it when he used to be accompany Derek Rae during CL commentary.

      Bretos is just annoying to listen to really. I’m sure he knows his stuff, but i’ve never enjoyed hearing what he has to say since years ago.

    2. I suppose it depends on the type of fan you are really.
      If you’re the type to just want to watch highlights and check scorelines, then FSD would probably work best for you.
      However, being that i pretty much watch a lot of the matches that are discussed in the highlights (the important ones anyway) I definitely give the nod to ESPN FC. Mainly because they provide us with a mixed panel of opinions about the overall goings on throughout the worlds game. They invite editors who specialize in particular regions, who are able to provide us with (so to speak) backstage passes and an insightful look at the what we will never know.

      Other shows such as Soccer Central and i’m assuming FSD, are somewhat like reading off of a teleprompter and not really anything that no one knows or can’t find out by browsing.

      But as i said in the start, it all depends on how in deep you are into the game.

  9. The best football review show is on ESPN Deportes. Yes it’s in Spanish, but the sheer amount of highlights blows both these shows away.

  10. FYI:

    DIRECTV, DISH, and Time Warner Cable all held their ground and forced NewsCorp to lower the monthly subscriber fee for FOX Sports 1 from $0.80 to $0.23.

    That means the likes of Comcast and COX would also be paying $0.23 instead of $0.80 per subscriber per month due to the “most favored nation” clauses in the carriage contracts.

    One doesn’t need too many brain cells to figure out that NewsCorp will have to cut a LOT of “non-essential” stuff in order to balance the books.

    FOX Soccer Daily would certainly fit in the “non-essential” category.

    1. Will be interesting to watch this play out – certainly the thinking has to be they will negotiate individual increases from more of a ‘power’ position once individual contracts come up.

      Personally, I’ve tried to watch a few of their sport reports shows and the screen is so full of clutter and graphics I’m not even sure where to focus. Way overboard in my view.

      1. In particular, Crowd Goes Wild is the same old crap from the 3-letter outfit.

        Remember Best Damn Sports Show Period and how it had to be downsized gradually (shortened, and then without any studio audience) until it was cancelled?

        With NewsCorp collecting $0.23/sub/month for FS1 instead of $0.80, a lot of stuff will have to be cut, people will have to be laid off, and talent contracts will have to be reworked.

    1. No offense, but i’m fine with this. To me, it was entirely too much big-4 and then time for cricket, tennis, rugby et al.

  11. I was actually slightly surprised with the Fox show but its still episode 1, they still have time to screw it up 😀

    ESPNFC I will only watch on Sunday when they show highlights, don’t really care for the “banter” between Thomas, Hislop and Burley, same old crap debates

    I want a simple highlights show from the top 5 leagues and throw in a highlight from Portugal, Russia, Netherlands if something interesting happens there. Don’t really care too much about debate but its what ESPN is into these days. If there was one good thing about that Canadian Fox Soccer news show is they were pretty good on showing highlights

  12. Bobby McMahon is by far the best football analyst that I’ve had the pleasure to watch in the last 10 years on FSC… I hope he will be back on TV soon on a much needed hour long show in the late evening…

      1. …this is true, however, the sportscasters on Soccer Central are absolutely shocking. It’s a sad replacement for the former ‘Fox SportsWorld Canada’/’Fox Soccer Report’ show.
        I be Bobby is screaming to get out. lol

  13. ESPNFC wins hands down, but I’ll get to that in a second. This is kind of a trick question because BEIN Sports’ The Locker Room and The Global Game each provide the best soccer shows on US television (great analysis and insights, strong coverage of multiple leagues, good blend of highlights and discussion, and ONE HOUR FORMATS). Too bad each show only airs for an hour once a week. Even BEIN’s daily show, the Express Extra is better than Fox Soccer Daily. Sorry, but I see FSD as a much less-informed, less insightful soccer version of Pardon the Interruption (read: predictable, boring). But, if I put Express Extra against ESPNFC as daily shows, I’d probably give it to ESPNFC.

    More to the question, I’d be thrilled if ESPNFC moved to a one-hour format for the reasons mentioned in the article. ESPNFC is obviously a superior show to FSD, because Lowe, Hoenigstein, and Marcotti are considered some of the most talented and knowledgable football journalists in the business. No one on Fox Soccer even comes close. If we have a show purely focused on MLS, I’d give FSD more props for Grant Wahl, but seeing as the majority of the viewing audience does NOT make MLS their primary league, his relative advantages are somewhat limited.

    The real question is: When are we going to see a daily soccer show on NBCSN? They spent all that money on getting the Prem but basically ignore it from Sunday afternoon through Friday night. RIP, Fox Soccer News; I kinda liked it.

  14. While we don’t get Fox Soccer Daily here in Canada, (because we’re blessed with the sad excuse of a sports news show in ‘Soccer Central’) I have seen the hosts and i’m willing to bet that ESPN FC is a much better show.
    The analysis and knowledge of the game from the ESPN line up is much more extensive; mainly due to the fact that they’ve all been a part of it in some sort of form over the years in the big leagues. Mostly as ex players and renown news editors.

    I’ve been an avid follower of ESPN Press Pass for years and i was very happy when the new format was made available to cable networks here in Canada. However, for some reason or another, it hasn’t been on since Tuesday August 20th, and it’s a daily show.

    Regardless, anything…ANYTHING is better than the waste of an hour block on the local networks with ‘Soccer Central’.

    That said, does anyone happen to know what happened to ESPN FC in Canada?

  15. Ever since the change over, I’ve lost track. I used to rush home to catch the 7 PM PST Fox Soccer News. Highlights from every league, even national teams and U-21 as well. Did not care much about the hosts. Al I wanted was to watch highlights. If I missed it, then it’s repeated at 10 PM. I am very disappoint with NBS Sports. I thought they will keep the same format of a ONE HOUR show a la FOX Soccer news. I hope they change and at leaf air around 7 PM.

  16. Both shows are useless since they air too early to be “wrap up” shows. Whoever made these decisions should lose their jobs. Horrible lack of common sense.

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