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Spurs 4-4 Chelsea: Why Setanta Needs Cable TV

setanta-sports1.jpegTonight’s match between Spurs and Chelsea was a perfect example of how Fox Soccer Channel has lost the creme de la creme of Premier League TV rights in the United States.

In the incredible 4-4 London derby — described by BBC London as the best match of the Premier League season thus far — Setanta Sports had the first dibs on the game and showed it on their network. Fox Soccer Channel, meanwhile, had the second choice match which featured a very predictable 2-0 win for Manchester United against Bolton (although Wanderers definitely had their moments in the match and opportunities to narrow the scoreline).

The shame about the sensational four-four draw between Tottenham and Chelsea is that the majority of soccer fans in the States were unable to watch the game. While the number of subscribers to Setanta Sports continues to grow, the challenge for many viewers (myself included) who refuse to switch from cable to satellite (or are unable to attach a dish to their home) is that Setanta is not currently available via cable television.

Until this happens, many soccer fans will miss out on these games of the season, and will miss out — for example — on this Sunday’s Manchester United against Liverpool must-see match from Old Trafford (only available via Setanta). Fox Soccer Channel, thankfully, still has their Sunday big match of the week to save them. This Sunday it’s no less than Chelsea against Arsenal.

With ITVN pulling the plug on Setanta, soccer fans in the States now have only three main options to receive Setanta. Those are DirecTV, Dish Network and Setanta Broadband. The first two may not be ideal for many viewers. Depending on where you live, satellite television is often more expensive than cable TV. Setanta Broadband, meanwhile, is an excellent option for fans who are tethered to their computers but isn’t ideal for those supporters who want to sit and watch the match with friends or family members in the comfort of their living room.

While Fox’s choice of Premier League coverage continues to dwindle season after season, Setanta Sports has grown in strength. The biggest challenge for Setanta, though, is providing an easy way for people to view its programming.

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  1. The Gaffer

    March 21, 2008 at 9:46 am


    Great question about who the pressure points should be/are. It’s definitely the cable networks. Setanta Sports has been fighting hard to get its channel(s) on the cable networks such as Time Warner and Verizon Wireless.

    Unfortunately it takes a lot of time and negotiating.

    Your best bet is to contact your local cable company and ask how you can request/demand a specific cable station that isn’t carried on the current lineup.

    The more feedback the cable companies receive, the better.

    I’m hoping that by this summer we may see some major cable carriers starting to add Setanta Sports. Fingers crossed.

    The Gaffer

  2. tampasoccer

    March 21, 2008 at 8:24 am

    I have DirectTV just for Setanta. The best investment I made last year-totally worth every cent. And, the original programming: Macca’s Monday Night, Football Matters, and Friday Football Show: is simply second to none!
    Setanta, however, must expand to cable(Verizon) if they want to become a mainstream soccer channel here.
    The Spurs-Chelsea game was an instant classic, btw. Wow!!! Can’t wait for the big ones on Sunday!

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  4. Dave M

    March 20, 2008 at 10:38 am

    I would switch to Verizon Fios in a NY minute if they were to offer Setanta. I take every opportunity to tell Comcast that I’ve been a customer for 10 years (digital cable + high speed internet) and that they need to add Setanta or lose us, but I don’t think I’m getting through to the right people.

    I already pay something extra (like $5/mo) to get the sports tier that includes FSC and GolTV – how hard can it be to add Setanta / Setanta Xtra as another tier for $5 – $10/mo??

    Gaffer – any insight on where the pressure points are? Should we be telling Setanta to get on cable? or cable to add Setanta? we need to find the decision makers and bombard them.

    I’m on Setanta Broadband now, which is nice for convenience of location – but it sucks for recording matches (yes, I know they have on demand – but I like to send good PL matches to a friend) and the tiny screen will get old very fast.

  5. Simon Burke

    March 20, 2008 at 9:55 am

    As regards Setanta – it is available on Broadband at 600K per sec for 15 dollars a month and its better than nothing – I had ITVN (who are scamming folk by double billing so watch your bills and stop them).
    I use Broadband now as my cable net doesnt offer them and its good enough, i still get my fix of Jose, listening to Padraig Harrington tell me about White Oaks Golf course and the Beatles singing to that Scottish footie advert.
    I am switching to Verizon Fios next month and allegedly Setanta will be available on that come October, maybe Gaffer you know something more concrete??? I am pinning my hopes on various chat board posts.
    One thing I wish that Setanta would do is let you pay for it and then if you have it on Direct TV, or Fios or whatever that you can also view it online too – its not fair to pay for both.

  6. Clynnnog

    March 20, 2008 at 7:57 am

    Hey Gaffer,

    Here in Canada the situation is different. We have Setanta Sports Canada, which most weekends shows 8 of the 10 EPL games (they show live one game at 07h45, one live at 10h00 and one live at 12h15 EST. They usually show a Sunday early game live and any Monday game live. Setanta is available via cable and/or satellite for $14.95/month. (month to month basis).

    A 2nd choice game is shown at 10h00 on a Saturday on a basic cable channel (Rogers Sportsnet) and also the Sunday 11h00 game is shown live on a basic cable channel called The Score.

    Fox Sports World Canada is simply terrible for EPL coverage as they have none. They lost the rights to Setanta/Sportsnet/The Score and are reduced to indoor soccer, Argentenian, and Seria A.

    Setanta Sports Canada also shows Dutch, Scottish, French, plus rugby and gaelic football.

    GOL TV Canada shows Spanish, German and a series of South/Central American games.

    Hope that helps

  7. The Gaffer

    March 20, 2008 at 4:25 am


    You’re incorrect. Fox Soccer Channel had won the TV licensing rights to show Premier League matches in the United States. However, it was Fox’s decision to sub-license a significant portion of the top matches to Setanta.

    That is why Setanta has the first choice on Saturday morning, the early game on Sunday, the game on Monday and first choice of the mid-week matches.

    The Gaffer

  8. John

    March 19, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    It would be interesting to find out why Setanta isn’t carried on cable. Cable providers carry 100 different versions of HBO yet they can’t carry one extra sports channel that people would pay a large premium to have. I am hoping Setanta will make a deal now that ITVN has fallen apart.

  9. Eideard

    March 19, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    Correction: we all were “able” to watch the match – unless you live on the north side of a very tall building.

    Some of you “chose” to rely on your local cable system for access to proper football.

    The amount of football I get to watch on Setanta via DirecTV costs me about forty-five cents a match [yes, I watch a lot of footie]. I live the frugal life of a retiree; but, I ain’t a cheapskate – willing to miss watching my favorite sport.

    It was a hell of a match, btw. I recorded it and I’m playing it back for my wife, tonight. Wait till she sees how close Berbatov came to winning it for Spurs in stoppage time.

  10. Andrew

    March 19, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    There are altentative ways to watch – several streaming sites in Europe showed Setanta coverage tonight

  11. Leeban

    March 19, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    FSC didn’t drop the ball it was Setanta who bid the most when the EPL was up for grabs. That gave them the right to broadcast the matches. You can blame Fox/Sky as they are the same entity and if they wanted could’ve pulled strings for the top matches to be shown on FSC.

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