As Bad As It Is, FOX Sports’ Soccer Coverage Is Here To Stay

Here’s a statement that may send shockwaves throughout the United States soccer-loving community: FOX is not good at covering soccer.

Although FOX has played a major role in the growth of soccer in the States for many years, their coverage has been problematic. Piers Morgan and Michael Strahan trying to explain the difference between football and fútbol before the 2011 Champions League Final, and throwing poor Gus Johnson into the proverbial fire, are prime examples of the misses on FOX’s tote-board.

The situation for FOX only gets worse when the average fan gushes over the quality of ESPN and NBC’s coverage of the game. Despite everything, the soccer public must come to this conclusion: FOX isn’t going anywhere, and we’re just going to have to accept how they choose to cover the game.

It’s a painful pill to swallow, especially after the fact that ESPN will show the best of its abilities in Brazil this summer, and NBC continues to impress with its Premier League coverage. But, foibles and all, FOX is here to stay, and their coverage of soccer is only going to grow over the next few years.

In 2015, FOX will cover the Gold Cup, the Bundesliga, MLS, USMNT friendlies, and will have privilege to air other FIFA events like the Women’s World Cup. It seems inevitable that FOX will certainly make a push for the Premier League coverage when their current contract expires.

FOX has a commitment to the game, which is great for the growth of the sport. However, the double-edged sword has another side, and most of the die-hard fans don’t take too long to notice it.

FOX has always been different when it comes to sports coverage. They have been ever since they got into the sports business, about 20 years ago. It’s not like FOX is beloved by everyone for their coverage of other sports. Ask any hockey fan about the “glowpuck” and watch the chills move up their spines.

Despite all mistakes, as colossal as the “glowpuck,” FOX will always cover sports with its own unique touch no matter what any die-hard fan wants them to do. Soccer is no exception and falls right into this boat.

I agree with everything that has been written about why FOX’s coverage has fallen down. But, I’ve come to accept that FOX will dominate soccer coverage in the future. I recommend to most of the soccer community that still holds a grudge to be wise and do the same. Being mad about the quality of coverage will ruin the enjoyment of what we’re really tuning in for – the game.

In the end, we’re faced with two legal options when watching soccer on FOX: Accept the coverage as it comes, or watch the game on mute. 

76 thoughts on “As Bad As It Is, FOX Sports’ Soccer Coverage Is Here To Stay”

  1. Not really sure what the point of this piece is, but you might have noted that Fox still has a separate channel, Fox Soccer Plus, so it has to stay in the game even after converting Fox Soccer to FXX. Fox does a decent job on UEFA Champions League games — but it annoyingly doesn’t air CL highlights on its endless Fox Sports Live shows the next day. Why? P.S. I miss FSC.

  2. Fox’s soccer cover may fall way behind ESPN and NBC’s, but I have to admit I miss Goals on Sunday. NBC’s Goal Zone is so disappointing. I should be able to have one show on Sunday or Monday where every goal in every match that weekend is shown, divided by each match. Not one where only select goals are shown or the rest are put together in a montage tainted by a horrible filter.

    1. Totally agree with this. Goals on Sunday used to full 3-4 minute highlight packages for EVERY game with commentators. Then they used to analyze each affair afterwards. I miss that. NBC sorely lacking in that department.

  3. You can accept that Fox is going to dominate all you like I will keep watching the only league that really matters on a weekly basis and that’s the EPL.

    1. Watch/record Match of the Day on NBCSN. It’s basically what the Premier League Review show on FSC was. Full match highlights with commentary, they do more analyzing after the “big matches” of the weekend, but I just fast forward through that crap.

  4. Call me crazy but I’ll take what we had considering we lost Sky Sports News, the FOX Soccer Report, and 2.5 24/7 soccer networks. No doubt the gameday experience is better on NBC but we don’t get as much coverage day in and day out like we used to.

    1. We lost 1.5 soccer networks not 2.5 soccer networks with FSC going off the air and FOX Soccer Plus not worth watching since they air mostly rugby programming at this point.

      1. We also lost GolTV which no provider in the US carries anymore, so even though they are around, no one in the US can watch them.

        Yes I miss Sky sports too.

  5. Stupid article.. They will change or they Will lose $$$$’s

    Soccer viewers are probably the most tech savvy fans.. They will tune out Fox and find alternatives

    The bigger picture is that ADVERTISERS will not want to be associated with poor productions and failing viewership. Fox has even lost the “mainstream” fan now.. So the only way to go is down. They might feel it right now but I guarantee they will feel it in the future.

  6. FOX coverage good or bad, here’s what I would like.

    1. FOX contact all the Cable & SAT providers and either tell them or pay them to carry FS2 on all providers.

    2. If FOX can’t or doesn’t want to bring back an all soccer channel (not fox soccer plus, which most providers dont’ carry either), then at least on the days (Sat and Sun) dedicate the majority (all) of that day to only showing the games, highlight shows and soccer news. On the days where there are no games, they can show whatever they want.

    3. For Bundesliga, CL, etc use the imbedded English commentators.

    4. Do some replays of the games and highlight shows during the week (not like NBC).

    5. Yes bring back Goals on Sunday but the version prior to the “fancy-glitzy” NFL stage version.

    6. When FOX had the EPL, they gave the impression with their non-news (or very short) coverage to be anti-Bundesliga, now that they will be carrying the games, don’t have the same attitude.

    7. FOX needs to stop trying to make the soccer studio show like the NFL studio show. And bring in people who’s voices aren’t annoying and comments aren’t annoying, i.e. bring in solid broadcasting professionals.

    Finally, in Matt L article he notes: “throwing poor Gus Johnson into the proverbial fire,…” In case you didn’t realize, Gus has soccer announcing experience. He was the San Jose Earthquakes radio play by play announcer. While radio is not TV, it’s actually a bit more challenging as the person needs to be more descriptive for the radio listening audience.

    So, Gus isn’t being thrown into the fire, he should know the game and how to speak to the audience. If he doesn’t, well that’s another issue that time on FOX TV won’t fix.

  7. I used to defend Fox, mainly because of FSC having the daily hour-long multi-league highlights show, Bobby McMahon, repeats of games that aired earlier, Sky Sports broadcasts and all day Deadline Day coverage. But their approach in bringing in guys like Piers Morgan (#1 bandwagon fan), Judah Friedlander (?????) and the like just can’t be defended anymore. I’ve basically resorted to only watching the two 45 minute halves and ignoring (or muting) the pregame and halftime show. I really have low expectations for their World Cup coverage and I cringe thinking about what they’re going to roll out for the FA Cup and Champions League finals on FOX.

    1. Ah yes, I miss Bobby McMahon too. Fox Soccer was good when it kept it simple. Show games with original game announcers, keep news show simple (no fancy NFL stage)and show the EPL, Serie A and Asian Highlight shows. The KISS principle and have Sky Sports. I actually also like Jeremy St. Louis as one of the soccer news show hosts (when he teamed up with McMahon).

  8. So now Rob Stone is offering an olive branch to world soccer talk with an invite to see how they produce a soccer match? I smell a rat…

    I would hate this site would go soft on their criticism of Fox

    Chris, if you do go I would hope you stick to your guns on criticizing where it’s due.. I hope this is not some ploy on Fox’s part to influence your articles

    1. I e-mailed FOX Sports yesterday and requested an opportunity to visit their studios, to interview their talent and production staff for a behind the scenes video like we did for NBC and ESPN. I don’t intend to go soft on them but I’ll give them an opportunity to share their vision.

      Coincidentally, Rob Stone tweeted the invite today. I don’t think he knew that I already put a request in.

      1. Tell them to send his ass back to boxing or whatever sport he ruined calling before he came to Fox soccer, so we can all go back to watching with the sound on during games…

      2. Gaffer Ask them what they are actually hoping to achieve having people like Piers Morgan & Judah Friedlander appear on the show. I thought they couldn’t get any more amateurish until last week.

      3. Please get the reason that they dropped Sky Sports News & the FOX Soccer Report. I can understand why they dropped the FSR but SSN should have stayed on the schedule just for people that subscribe to FOX Soccer Plus & could have had an airing or two on FS2. They really need to be hammered for dropping SSN since SKY and FOX are owned by Murdoch.

  9. But if people accept Fox, then the open threads here when they (and Gus) have coverage would be a lot less active. 😉

  10. No surrender! They need to be told loud and often that there coverage is a joke compared to exceptional production on offer at NBC. Leaderships change. Eventually the leadership at fox will change and maybe more soccer friendly people end up making the decisions.

  11. Womens WC..don’t care. Gold Cup…don’t care. UNMNT…mmm. Bundesliga…maybe.
    Call me a Eurosnob but BPL, UEFA Champions League and World Cup is all I need. If FOX didn’t have the CL, I wouldn’t even the know the channel (and Gus Johnson)existed.

      1. Does anybody here watch the Bundesliga on a regular basis. The only time I ever hear anything about it is when Bayern v Dortmund are playing and its mentioned on this site.

          1. For as much as I follow football off the top of my head i honestly couldn’t name more than 4/5 teams in the league right now. Other than Bayern, Dortmund, schalke and Leverkusen I couldn’t name another team. Clubs like Hamburg, Wolfsburg and FC St Pauli could be in the Bundesliga or they could be in the 2nd or 3rd division of German football for all I know.

        1. I did when I had Goltv. The only time I’d watch EPL over Bundesliga was:

          1. ManU vs ManCty
          2. Chelsea vs either of the two above
          3. Arsenal vs any of the 3 above.

          And even then, if Dortmund was playing, I’d watch BVB.

          If Fox Soccer did a replay of any of the EPL games listed above and Goltv didn’t show a replay of the Bundesliga game, I’d watch the Bundesliga.

          Each fan has their own likes of teams and leagues. I would never tell someone their league sucks or the league I like is better, etc.

          Whatever team or league they enjoy, good for them.

          Just because others don’t enjoy the Bundesliga, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be able to watch it.

          I’m a football fan. When my provide carried Goltv and fox soccer was around, I’d watch games from all the leagues, including Brazil, Uruguay, Copa America, Argentina, Italy, etc.

          If you love really love the game, a true fan won’t only watch one team or one league.

  12. When Fox Soccer and FS+ were showing EPL games, I defended them for at least allowing us to view live games. I overlooked their faults for the previlege of watching the games. Many of us remember a time when it was either not possible to watch EPL games on TV or one had to use internet streaming to watch EPL soccer games.

    Much has changed since with NBC providing great coverage of the EPL and ESPN getting better with their soccer coverage in general. Sadly, Fox hasn’t improved at all and arguably are even worse than they were. Given what we now enjoy and know that it is possible to get good coverage of the sport, the criticism of Fox will only get louder. It will not be as muted as it was before.

  13. Fox is and will continue to be a joke while keep doing things like having Judah Friedlander on the broadcast at halftime.

  14. I doubt anybody really gives a flying fvck about the Women’s World Cup or the Gold Cup. Bundesliga is a two man race between Bayern and Dortmund so nobody really cares either.

    The only thing they have of any real interest is the UCL.

    1. I’m not going to lie I will watch a USAs womens game before ill watch gold cup or even a MLS game. I’m not going to schedule my day around a game but if I’m at home and they are playing its probably going to be on in the background.

  15. NBC is so much better than FOX. First, no Gus Johnson. He is quite possibly the most annoying announcer on tv, right next to Alexi Lalas. Both make me want to throw the remote at my tv. Gus yells wayyy too much, anytime Arjen Robben goes to shoot I hear ROOOBBBEEEEEEENNNN, and instantly mute my tv. Second, being able to watch all EPL games through their app or website is sweet. FOX is greedy and wants to charge to watch all games with fox soccer plus.

    The only thing NBC does wrong is have Tim Howard commentate some games. Im sorry but hes not good, even if he knows the game as a player.

    Again I want to express how much I can’t stand Gus Johnson and Alexi Lalas (ESPN). They do a large disservice to soccer fans everywhere. I really hate how Lalas will be involved for the world cup this year. I cringe when I hear his dumb voice. He also thinks he is the best US player to ever play the game.
    Also cannot stand analysts Eric Wynalda (thinks hes a genious), Brian McBride (simply not good), and Taylor Twellman (just don’t like him)

    1. 100% agree!
      Gus Johnson should not have anything to do with soccer.
      Thankfully for us, Alexi Lalas doesn’t normally commentate games, hes mostly a halftime or in-game analyst. Either way he sucks. He talks too fast sometimes. Its as if he thinks that we want to hear every stupid thought that goes through his head, and he tries to get it all out at once.
      And I remember when Robben scored last year in the Champions League final and how loud Gus Johnson screamed hahah, his voice was like nails on a chalkboard.

    1. Lol and I bet if Warron Barton worked for NBC he wouldn’t be saying Gus Johnson is a world class football commentator.

  16. FOX’s biggest assets were the Premier League games, Sky Sports and Bobby McMahon. None of those things are there any more, leaving little reason to watch any of their channels

  17. Seems like this article is quite biased. A lot of bluster without much weight. It points to Gus Johnson, Strahan and Piers 3 years ago, Judah Friedhandler which was one pregame and halftime during one match, and the glow puck which was in another sport. Let’s be fair now if we’re going to go after Fox. ESPN’s coverage isn’t that great and the shoulder programming is week. ESPN FC has zero production value and consists of 5 guys droning on for 30 minutes. NBC has done a great job with the Prem, but again the shoulder programming leaves a lot to be desired. And the big missing point is that while Fox has the women’s World Cup in 2015 that means the men’s World Cup is a Fox property in 2018 and 2022. I must admit, when FOx lost the BPL I thought they had made great strides. The last season of the BPL at Fox was excellent and I miss Goals on Sunday which is better than Match of the Day on NBC.

  18. I must admit, this seems a bit harsh. Thoroughly enjoyed Fox’s coverage of the Champions League and Europa League this season. They’ve improved a great deal. I have my gripes with each network, so if we’re going to go after 1 let’s point out the issues with all.

    1. Ok ill play along just for fun. The only thing I dislike about NBCs coverage of the EPL is the lack of half time analysis of the featured game. I’d like to see them focus more reviewing the first half action and on what the two teams need to do tactically in the second half. They usually go straight to a round up of other games and scores before going into any real detail about the featured match. Personally I’d like to see them leave the round ups of other matches until after the main game is over. Other than that minor pet peeve NBC does a excellent job all round.

  19. The American soccer fan is such a snob. This article is just that. Then when you read the comments it’s even more evident. This isn’t the case in any other country. But we continue to call out our national heroes. Apparently Wynalda, Lalas, Twellman, McBride, Martino etc. etc. are not good enough. In the end it doesn’t matter what comes out of an analyst’s mouth. Give a yank an English accent and he’ll be happy.

      1. No, I’m not having a laugh. McBride was a trailblazer for US soccer players in Europe and is one of the most accomplished players this country has EVER produced. For Gad’s sake he scored on Portugal and led us to victory over them in a bloody World Cup! Or are you so young you don’t even remember that? And Wynalda, for all you like, is a national soccer hero.

          1. Believe it or not these days they have these big things that fly up above the clouds and if you sit in one long enough you get magically transported to another country.

    1. Not necessarily. Theres terrible Englis analysts too. Twellman and Lalas just have a total lack of understanding of the game at the highest level.

      And national heroes? Soldiers, relief workers, national guard, firefighters, soccer players, hmm something doesnt fit here.

  20. Fox was the reason soccer didn’t get much coverage and I think EPL will not give them the rights back after NBC have done such a great job of their soccer coverage, giving it mainstream exposure. FSC made soccer look like a minor sport, putting it on a specialist channel, having low production values making soccer look like a cheap sport. Soccer clubs are bigger than any American sports teams and NBC gave the game the coverage and respect they deserve. NBC have great viewing figures and now the EPL gets more viewers than MLB.

  21. FSC also got soccer very cheaply for decades and they did nothing to grow the sport by putting on a cheap looking specialist channel instead of their mainstream channels. USA paying just 60 Million for EPL soccer, when Asia pays £1 Billion and Africa pays £700 Million is a joke and those days are over. NBC viewing figures prove there is an audience now and US TV companies are now going to have to pay the going rate for the EPL and FOX are going to have double what NBC offer if they want it back

  22. It’s interesting that the pro FOX Soccer comments posted above are by the same person logging in from the same IP address in Los Angeles.

    The fictitious names used above from the same Los Angeles IP address are:

    Jay Ganther
    Malcolm Wicker
    Zackary Pinehurst

      1. I moderate the comments throughout the day. In WordPress, when there’s comments posted within minutes of each other and they’re all from the same IP address, it’s easy to spot.

        1. Fox can’t even put together a campaign to defend themselves. How the hell can they expect us to support any of their pathetic broadcasts.

    1. They do the same thing with twitter… I have heard rumours that this a common practice for Fox to defend their policy decisions on social media with their interns …


  23. What a freaking joke some clown with same ip would think he could get away with that garbage.if he was a regular he would know how we bang on Arlo martini boy and scores being shown on NBC.face it fox your new soccer coverage has bombed ever heard of new COKE!

  24. Ill be honest…Im just happy there is more than one station commited to showing the game. Nothing is perfect but the fact that TV companies still throw money at soccer when ratings are still not good compared to the other US sports is something to be applauded. My opinon….Shut up and just and try to enjoy the game while you can.

    1. That’s your opinion and that’s fine, but when have fans of any sport ever “shut up”? Throwing your 2¢ in is part of what being a fan(atic) is all about.

      If you read the day in day out commentary on this site I think it’s pretty evident that we do enjoy the matches. We are aware of how far coverage has come and are appreciative of our options nowadays. However, I don’t think that means we have to sit back and accept mediocrity….or worse, in this sport or any other.

      As long as the conversation is civil I say, “Bitch on.” 😉

  25. Perhaps the coverage on FS2 is NBC/ESPN caliber stuff? We’ll never know because no one has access to the bleepin channel…

      1. At least you get the channel. I don’t have HD and I’d be happy to get it in SD. No matter how many e-mails I’ve written to Comcast (lots), they are not carrying FS2 in my area with not plans to.

  26. Don’t Fox people own Sky Sports or something along those lines? Why is there such a difference between those two stations? The only thing similar are the large graphics on the side and bottom of the screen, but at least Sky Sports’ graphics look nice and aren’t just random bios of random athletes. Oh, and the use of good-looking women doing meaningless side segments.

  27. I felt the need to comment on here after reading some of the things said. First, GolTV is still around. If you don’t have it, change your cable/satellite provider. They have nothing to do with Fox as far as I know.

    Whomever said Goals on Sunday was better than MOTD obviously has never watched both. MOTD is, by far, the best highlight show any sport has. I wish more sports did that.

    NBC’s coverage blows away Fox’s coverage. Its unfortunate that Fox, whom has covered this sport for so long, still get it so wrong. Has nothing to do with accents, either.

    I get the criticism of Gus Johnson. That being said, he is getting better and he actually understands the game now. His biggest issue is his in game partners and his mispronunciation of names but so many English commentators butcher names that its hardly something that only he has as a problem.

    Finally, while I fully agree that Fox has really done a terrible job(in fact I would say that they almost don’t care with how they present, its not professional at all)I can’t fully hate on them. Without Fox, I wouldn’t be into the game. Without Fox, I wouldn’t still be following Bobby McMahon and the Gaffer here.

    I’ve been watching since 98 and I remember how much trouble it was in getting to see games back then. So kudos to Fox for bringing them over but they really dropped the ball and I am glad NBC took over.

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