FOX Sports has announced a new feature to its UEFA Champions League coverage named Multimatch 90, which will allow soccer fans the ability to watch a “red zone channel” where the best highlights will be shown live or on quick replay. The feature, which will become available for the UEFA Champions League matches beginning this month, will only be available to subscribers of FOX Soccer Plus and/or FOX Soccer 2GO.
“We might start off at the Real Madrid game,” said Jonty Whitehead, executive vice president of soccer at FOX Sports told the New York Times. “And say that a goal happens at the Emirates in London — that will be spun back, recued, and the host will say, ‘Let’s cross to Emirates Stadium, where there’s some early action.’
“If Gareth Bale has the ball around the midfield line, we know there’s only thing on his mind, and we’ll go to that. Or a corner kick somewhere might produce a goal-mouth incident.”
The Multimatch 90 service will finally give some soccer fans a reason to consider subscribing to FOX Soccer Plus and/or FOX Soccer 2GO. Both services have lost a lot of rights to leagues in the past two years. And recently, FOX Soccer Plus’s name has seemed to be a misnomer given the quantity of rugby games shown on the channel.
FOX Soccer Plus features two main obstacles. The first is the $14.99 monthly rate that most TV providers offer the service for. The second obstacle is that there are still some major TV providers, such as regional Comcast Xfinity providers, that don’t even make the channel available to its subscribers.
Meanwhile, FOX Soccer 2GO charges $19.99 a month.
Soccer fans will get a chance to test out the Multimatch 90 service this month and next. FOX Soccer 2GO is offering a free 7-day trial that coincides with the first set of UEFA Champions League matches on September 16-17. And there will be a free preview of FOX Soccer Plus on DirecTV, Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-verse from October 18-26, while DISH is offering a free preview from October 15-29. Additionally, some cable TV providers will offer a free preview of FOX Soccer Plus (check your cable provider for local availability).
The New York Times newspaper adds that John Strong will be among the hosts of the channel.
The move is a positive step by FOX Sports to give sports fans a reason why they should consider subscribing to FOX Soccer Plus and/or FOX Soccer 2GO. However, while it’s a step in the right direction, the service isn’t worth the price for roughly four UEFA Champions League matchdays per month when Multimatch 90 will be used. FOX Soccer Plus and FOX Soccer 2GO do have rights to other leagues and tournaments, but it isn’t robust enough at this time to make it worthwhile to subscribe unless money isn’t a concern or if your TV provider offers FOX Soccer Plus for $4.99/month.
In addition to the UEFA Champions League, FOX Soccer Plus and FOX Soccer 2GO have the rights to the Europa League, Scottish Premier League, select UEFA 2016 qualifiers and FA Cup.
The concept of the red zone-like channel is sound. The shame of it is that FOX Sports decided not to make the Multimatch 90 service available on a regional FOX Sports channel or FOX Sports 1 or FOX Sports 2. Or FOX could have offered it on its free online FOX Sports Go service, which is available to FOX Sports 1 & 2 subscribers.