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Who Reigns Supreme? Fox Soccer Channel, Setanta Sports or GolTV

If you’re a soccer fan in the United States, you’re familiar with the three most accessible 24/7 soccer networks, Fox Soccer Channel, GolTV and Setanta Sports. But you may be very surprised at the latest EPL Talk study where we closely examined a typical week for all three networks and calculated how often they broadcast different leagues, and what comprises their overall programming.First, some background. EPL Talk studied the TV guides for all three networks for the same week: From Saturday, March 31st at 12:01am through Friday, April 6 at midnight. We surveyed each program and, based on what type of program it was, we labelled it as belonging to one of six categories. More details about how the survey was conducted appear at the foot of the article.ProgrammingSecond, here are the results followed by a description and analysis of the findings. The first series of pie charts focus on what comprises the programming at the three major soccer networks:The majority of programming (32%) at Fox features replays of matches. Particularly, Fox Soccer Channel tends to often repeat the Premiership matches throughout the midweek. Fox also relies heavily on news and highlight shows (31%) including “Through The Night” from Sky, “Fox Soccer Report,” “Football Asia,” J-League highlights and other programs.Only 18% of Fox’s programming features live matches (or ones that are shown on a same-day delay [SDD]).Entertainment shows, such as “Fox Football Fone In” and “Dream Team” comprise 4% of its programming. And infomercials, which are played during the morning hours, take up 15% of FSC’s programming, almost more than the live and SDD matches.I found it surprising that 42% of Setanta’s programming in the U.S. focuses on sports such as rugby, Australian Rules football and gaelic football. Much of this programming is played late in the night, though, and Setanta — in comparison to Fox — doesn’t feature infomercials.Twenty eight percent of Setanta’s programming focuses on replays from matches played earlier that day or week. Some of this, like Fox, include reruns of the Premiership matches from the weekend, or Le Championnat matches from France.Schedules change week-by-week for all three networks, but in this particular week, Setanta devotes 17% of its programming to matches that are live or on a same-day delay. Thirteen percent of the Irish broadcaster’s content focuses on news and highlight shows such as the “EPL Review Show,” “Football Asia,” Chelsea TV and Manchester United TV.Out of the three networks, GolTV replays more of its matches (36%). The network replays many of its best matches from the weekend (such as Bundesliga, La Liga and Serie A) throughout the week. However, GolTV does feature the most news and highlights with shows such as Arsenal TV, Liverpool TV, “American Soccer,” and Bundesliga, Serie A and La Liga highlight shows, among others.Eighteen percent of its matches are shown live or on same-day delay. Incredibly, the vast majority of those occur on Saturdays and Sundays. On Saturday, March 31st, GolTV featured 14 hours of live and/or same-day delay matches, while the network numbered 12 hours on Sunday.Infomercials comprise 13 percent of its programming, while one percent focuses on entertainment (“Soccer Academy.”)LeaguesLet’s take a look at the three networks to see how much programming time they feature on the different leagues. Some of the findings may surprise you.Incredibly, 50% of the soccer matches that Fox Soccer Channel broadcasts are comprised of the Premier League. Of course that’ll change when the new season of Major League Soccer kicks off this weekend, but it just goes to show how much Fox relies on the coverage and how often it replays the EPL matches.Twelve percent of Fox’s matches are from the Serie A, which will increase significantly beginning with the 2007/2008 season because Fox will then own the rights. The Champion’s Cup (10%) is an anomaly and scores highly due to a few games being shown this week both live and replayed.With Setanta, 42% of the matches it broadcasts feature the Premiership, while 21% focus on the UEFA Champions League. The Scottish Premier League (SPL) is also well represented at 15%. Note: What I neglected to include was one match from the Dutch Eredivisie in the pie chart.GolTV broadcasts a wide range of soccer leagues, but the lionshare is commited to Spain’s La Liga (37%). The EPL, surprisingly, is 13% of GolTV’s soccer matches that the network broadcasts, all thanks to Arsenal TV and Liverpool TV (and the subsequent times the programs are replayed).Additional ThoughtsWhile GolTV broadcasts the most live/SDD coverage on weekends, the challenge is that the network offers little original or new programming to watch during the week. The exceptions are Arsenal TV and Liverpool TV, as well as the “American Soccer” show. But without the UEFA Cup and Champions League, GolTV offers fewer choices during the week.In a perfect world, soccer fans in the United States will embrace all three networks and watch the best bits that suit them. There is, after all, much to choose from.Which network is the best? It all depends what you like and what you want to see. All three offer pros and cons.Additional notes about how the research was conducted: Live/SDD matches only include soccer matches, not other sports; and the Arsenal TV and Liverpool TV programs were each categorized as 2 hours of replayed matches, with one hour of news/highlights.

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  1. Rhinogooner

    July 8, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    I’ve subscribed to FSC for 8 years now. In the beginning they were the only channel showing EPL and I was happy to get whatever I could. Then GolTV and Setanta came along. Being a rabid Arsenal supporter, I would say, in my opinion, Setanta provides me with the most matches that interest me, hands down. It’s a shame I have to pay additional fees to receive FSC/GolTV and Setanta. If I had to get rid of one fee, it would be the FSC/GolTV fee. I would miss it though. The point is, Setanta gives me the best value so if I was forced to choose between them, I’d keep Setanta. They have match build up, half time analysis with ex-pro’s, they show European Champions League matches and they have the best EPL matches usually. And they seem to be getting better and including more and more all the time like preseason friendlies.

  2. Reacharound

    April 16, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    do this study again for the 3 channels’ Canadian versions. GolTV = wierd CanCon shows 50% of the time, FSWC = retarded CanCon talk shows (which appear on SEVERAL other channels as well) and FSR reruns all night… nice

  3. Walt

    March 28, 2008 at 10:09 am

    Hi John, in fact you do get Setanta in Canada. It’s called Setanta Sports Canada as opposed to Setanta Sports USA – varying schedule due to conflicting tv rights with Networks: FSC, Score, Sportsnet etc..

    As for Brazilian Soccer – PFC International is your best bet.

    Great article.

    Cheers – Walt –

  4. John

    April 6, 2007 at 10:02 am

    Makes interesting reading – well done! Pity we don’t get Setanta here in Canada. It’ll be a must if Fox will lose ground on EPL broadcasts next year. As to Soccermeister and the comment about Brazil…..yes,some of the best come from there – but they are not there! To my taste, their home league is nothing compared to their national team.

  5. SoccerMeister

    April 3, 2007 at 7:50 am

    Great job on the study. But I dont see anyone following up on the Brasilian soccer at all. Some of the worlds best come from there and no one sees or hears of them as much. Unfortunately it all comes down to money, sad.

  6. Anonymous

    April 2, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    Agreed, interesting statistics.
    For an EPL fan, Setanta is a must-they have fisrt pick for the best games.
    FSC’s recent acquisition for Seria “A” rights for the next 3 years is a big coup for the channel. Now, they need to get rid of some of the amateurs and self-proclaimed pundits on the channel.
    MLS’s growing popularity could also help FSC’s popularity.
    And FSC will show 1/4 finals, 1/2 finals, and the final of the UEFA Cup. I am so looking forward for Sevilla-Tottenham on Thursday.
    Gol TV losing Italy will hurt them over the next 3 years. Bundesliga and La Liga are well covered by them, though.
    Bottom line- the United states is the best place to watch football on TV in the entire world. There is access to the best football on the planet, and i love it!

  7. Kartik

    April 2, 2007 at 4:10 pm

    Excellent work! I really like the emphasis on the top leagues by GOL and FSC. GOL is the place to turn for LaLiga and FSC for the EPL. Sadly next year the EPL will feature less on FSC as Serie A becomes more prominent. FSC’s MLS production and broadcasts are superior to ESPN’s. Setanta shows way too much Rugby and Ausie Rules Football. I love the channel and it gives me three additional EPL games a week, but I sometimes question myself for paying $15 a month for Rugby!

  8. Jarrett

    April 2, 2007 at 8:07 am

    Very interesting analysis. I’d be interested to see the same analysis done over a longer period that included a couple of international match days as well as once MLS has started. Setanta’s Euro2008 coverage should change the mix a bit.

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