FOX Sports’ irresponsible programming change leaves Man United fans in the lurch

By showing a rescheduled NASCAR race on Sunday morning on FOX Sports 1, the programming change caused plenty of consternation among soccer fans in the United States this weekend who wanted to watch the Manchester United FA Cup game against Blackburn Rovers.

Originally scheduled to air at 11:15am ET on Sunday, the Blackburn-Manchester United game was bumped to FS2 to make way for NASCAR on FS1. As if that change didn’t cause enough anger, the Bundesliga game between Monchengladbach and Leipzig then had to be bumped from FS2 to FOX Soccer Plus. And then, last but not least, the Köln vs. Schalke game on FS2 was bumped on FOX Soccer Plus after the Gladbach vs. Leipzig game ended.

Programming changes are part and parcel of sports on television. However, the way that FOX Sports handled this situation was particularly irresponsible. The reason for all of the changes in the first place was that the NASCAR race originally scheduled to run on Saturday night had to be postponed due to rainy weather. Instead of informing the soccer media on Saturday (who would have in turn communicated the programming change to soccer fans in the United States), FOX Sports decided to sit on the news and not inform anyone until Sunday morning.

FOX Sports’ mode of communication was to post messages on social media and to inform viewers watching the Fulham-Spurs game. However, the vast majority of United supporters didn’t find out about the news until 11:15am ET when they tuned into FS1 to find NASCAR on TV instead of Rovers against Manchester United.

It’s bad enough that the programming change wasn’t properly communicated to soccer fans, but having the Blackburn-United game bumped to FS2 meant that many soccer fans in the United States weren’t able to watch the game at all. FS2 is currently in 50 million homes in the United States, compared to 85 million for FS1. Many Comcast subscribers, in particular, are still unable to get FS2.

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