FOX today pulled the plug on FOX Soccer, the 24/7 soccer network, that was replaced by FXX — a new comedy channel — at 6am ET.
After debuting in November 1997 as FOX Sports World, the channel was later renamed as Fox Soccer Channel before becoming simply FOX Soccer. Despite 16 years of hard work by the network, all that hard work and brand equity will disappear today forever.
Despite FOX Soccer entering the TV graveyard, it’s important to note that the sport will still continue to be shown on US television, but in a very different fashion than what we’re used to. FOX Soccer Plus will carry on. So too will FOX Soccer 2 Go. And there’ll always be soccer now and again on FOX’s new networks FOX Sports 1 and FOX Sports 2, sandwiched in between NASCAR, UFC, college football and other American sports.
To be frank, my experience watching FOX Soccer (and working with them behind-the-scenes to procure the information I needed to share with you, the reader) has been a love-hate relationship. There were so many high points, but there have been many low points too.
Here are my picks for some of the highs and lows of FOX Soccer’s history:
1. A game changer. There’s no doubt that we soccer fans would not be where we are today if it wasn’t for FOX Soccer and its vital role the network played in growing the popularity of the sport in the United States. When soccer matches on television weren’t accessible, they made them readily available. When the Internet was still a fad, FOX Soccer in its early years was a vital source of news and content on television. But more importantly, it was a shared experience that we soccer fans could tune into. In the beginning, FOX Soccer was our dream come true — 24/7 soccer, all the time, anytime.
2. Fox Football Friday. In August, 2007, Fox Soccer Channel launched a brand-new show entitled Fox Football Friday, which would later morph into Fox Football Fone-In. Hosted by Steven Cohen and Nick Geber, the show was exactly what the network needed, with a mixture of personality and enthusiasm. From its humble beginnings in a set that looked like a living room to the call-in show it later became, the show was one of the few home-grown productions by FSC that was a success.
3. Studio sets. We’ve been so spoiled with the UEFA Champions League sets that FOX has been using for the past 12-15 months that whenever we see FOX Soccer use their old set on Sepulveda Blvd for Europa League, it literally feels like the broadcast is going back in time. The current sets they’ve been using are spacious, bright and make the coverage look better than it is.