Other than the Premier League, arguably the most marketable European soccer league in the United States is the Bundesliga. It’s more competitive top to bottom than La Liga. The stadiums, large attendances and raucous crowds make it a better experience to watch than the Premier League. The league features many of the current World Cup champions. Plus the TV coverage of the Bundesliga is second to none, with excellent production values, and plenty of interviews and shoulder programming available.
So, why is it that we’re just over 3 weeks away from the 2015/16 Bundesliga season and we haven’t heard a single word from FOX Sports about its coverage plans or opening weekend TV schedule?
Apologists for FOX Sports will argue that FOX Sports has been incredibly busy with its coverage of the Women’s World Cup, Gold Cup and International Champions Cup, but surely an organization of the size of FOX Sports can nail down the TV schedule for the opening Bundesliga weekend and send out a press release to announce its plans?
One would have thought that after losing the Premier League to NBC Sports, FOX Sports would have shaped up its act once they found out they FOX had acquired the rights to the Bundesliga in October, 2013. While GolTV had the Bundesliga rights through ’til the end of the 2014/15 season, the network has had plenty of time to plan its strategy.
Contrast this with the way that NBC Sports rolled out its marketing and public relations for its TV debut of the 2013/14 Premier League season:
— Four months before the season started, it invited soccer media to a press conference in New York City where NBC announced its plans, conducted interviews to explain every minute detail of its coverage and had Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore share his excitement regarding the coverage plans.
— During the summer of 2013, NBC Sports also released a series of hilarious promotional videos starring Jason Sudekis in his role as An American Coach in London. Just one of the videos in the series has been viewed more than 9 million times.
In an interview with a Bundesliga executive in March 2015, he expressed how the Bundesliga was excited and willing to help FOX Sports in whatever ways it can to promote the league.
But here we sit, less than 2 weeks away from the German Super Cup, and FOX Sports hasn’t released any details.
After doing a lot of digging, we do know that FOX Soccer Plus will be televising many of the Bundesliga games. However, five years after the launch of FOX Soccer Plus, many TV subscribers are unable to get the network (and even if you do get it, the cost ranges from $6.99 to $14.99 for the service by itself and it is not part of a package). So, for many, FOX Soccer 2GO remains the only legal and viable way of watching these games.
With so little information on how and where to watch games and expecting customers to choose between FOX Soccer Plus or FOX Soccer 2GO, this is not a good start for FOX Sports and the Bundesliga.
It’s sad to see that the season hasn’t even started yet and FOX Sports is keeping people in the dark regarding its plans to broadcast the Bundesliga. At a time when interest in soccer is growing in the US, FOX is missing out on opportunities to get sports fan excited and interested in making the Bundesliga a part of its weekend plans. With time running out, FOX Sports is cutting it really close. Let’s hope that an announcement will be made soon.