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Soccer On U.S. TV Is Becoming A Chore


I had a discussion last week with a veteran of the soccer television industry, and I asked him whether soccer schedules these days were more or less confusing than how they used to be five or even 10 years ago. His response was a laugh followed by a definitive answer. Things are much more complicated now.

For soccer fans in the United States, the past weekend and the next few days are going to be a little haywire. Not that we’re complaining at the sheer amount of soccer available on U.S. television, but trying to keep on top of it is becoming quite a chore. Consider the fact that to watch the majority of games from the top European leagues and the Champions League qualifying rounds, you need a “tool belt” consisting of ESPN2, Fox Soccer Channel, Setanta Sports, FSN, Fox Sports en Espanol, Setanta Xtra, GolTV, DirecTV (for extra matches) as well as Setanta-i,, ESPN360 and That’s a total of 12 different possibilities.

A Tivo or DVR will definitely help, but it’s not going to solve all of your problems. For example, my Comcast DVR still shows 3-4 different hunting and fishing programs in the span of time of the Wigan against Manchester United game that’s scheduled this Saturday. And a Tivo or DVR is not going to help you with ESPN360, Setanta-i or, although those channels do offer recording or replay abilities.

And then again, who has time to watch all of these games anyway? By Fox acquiring the rights to the Champions League and offering all of the games in one fashion or another, we’ve finally reached a point in our soccer watching experience where we have to pick and choose what we want to see.

The other challenge is that there are few places to go where you can get all of the soccer schedule news in one place. definitely helps as does this site (and the comments added by you the readers).

We’ve reached the peak of soccer in the United States where we literally need a spreadsheet in front of us to track down who will be showing which games. Some of the soccer TV networks in the United States need to do a better job at sharing their schedules in a more timely fashion, but in their defense, the schedules sometimes aren’t firmed up until days before a game.

Does anyone have any tips or suggestions of how to keep track of all of the games without going insane? Please post them below.

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  1. CA_backpacker

    August 19, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    DirecTV’s DVR let’s you keyword search. Every few days we search and fill the recording queue with the games we want to watch. You hit the nail on the head, there isn’t time to watch all the games we could. So we watch the interesting ones, and fast forward to goals on the lesser games. Retirement would help give more time to watch games all the way through, but I’ve got 20 years til then, lol…

  2. dontcallmepaddy

    August 19, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Has anyone had any luck using I tried ordering the Spurs-Liverpool match and never got a confirmation email, and when I log in it still says “invalid account, etc.” And my credit card has been charged! I’ve tried contacted them twice and have yet to get a reply…

  3. david

    August 19, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    You can get TV schedules here and also have them emailed to you every week.

  4. Tom

    August 19, 2009 at 11:02 am

    yeah, it’s be AWESOME if we could just go back to getting one epl game a week, tape delayed, shown in the middle of the day on a Wednesday on the local fox sports net channel. GOD I miss those days, I hate being able to watch a myriad of teams week in and week out. Really sucks!

  5. Sheeraz Narejo

    August 19, 2009 at 12:29 am

    Thanks for that Jason. That really sucks though. Why do they charge the same amount for Setanta-i when it doesn’t have the same coverage. I wouldn’t have subscribed if I had known this, but they obviously don’t tell you this anywhere on their website. Thanks. Do you guys think $15 a month for only premiership games is good value? Are there any other online choices available?
    It seems as if i might have to get a cable connection now. The problem with that is I only watch soccer and with a cable connection I’ll have to pay for a lot of channels that I’ll never watch. I’d be happy if I could get a cable connection with ESPN2, FSC and Setanta Sports being the only channels.
    How do you guys watch your footie. If its on cable, can you tell me which package you have and which cable provider? I’ve tried football on places like, but its really frustrating to watch a crappy stream on a 3” screen.
    This is an awesome website guys. Thanks for any replies.

    • Jason

      August 19, 2009 at 1:02 am

      I use DirecTV with the Sports Pack and Setanta. I’m also a rugby fan, so Setanta is worth it for me.

      What the EPL needs to do is offer a complete streaming package for something like $15-$20 per month, and partner with whomever has the broadcast rights in that particular country, so that local commercials can be shown.

      For fscsetanta: The next version of firmware for newer DirecTV HD boxes gives you an option to extend a recording for live events that pops up when you set a recording, so you don’t have to remember to go back into the options. That software should be out in the next few weeks.

      Setanta does tell you that matches are delayed, but the wording is not clear-cut.

  6. fscsetanta

    August 19, 2009 at 12:11 am

    Think fast, folks! if you set your dvrs, pad the airing by at least half an hour…. with so many live games going on it’s inevitable that the one game you want to watch from 2am will start a little late and your tivo will miss the end of it!

  7. Sheeraz Narejo

    August 18, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    Hello everyone.
    Can anyone please tell me if Setanta-i shows Champions league matches live?
    Any comment will be greatly appreciated. I have tried finding this out from the schedules but have had no luck.
    Thanks a lot!

    • Jason

      August 18, 2009 at 10:59 pm

      Setanta-I only shows CL matches delayed. at $9.99 a pop for live matches and all the matches are available.

      • Hattrick

        August 19, 2009 at 9:50 am

        That’s what they say, but I couldn’t watch any of the delayed CL matches on Setanta-i at all last night. The prompt kept saying that the delayed CL matches were not available due to the content rights. I feel cheated…

        • Jason

          August 19, 2009 at 10:56 am

          I think Setanta-I can only simulcast the Champions League games when it is on the regular channel, but not have them available on-demand.

          • Hattrick

            August 19, 2009 at 10:21 pm

            Hmm.. Even when the Live Channel on Setanta-i is broadcasting a delayed CL game, it says it’s not available due to content rights (like right now).

  8. Rupert

    August 18, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    The confusion is especially noticeable with the Champions League coverage. With matches spread across the Fox family of networks, I found myself scrolling endlessly across the on-screen guide to find the channels. Can’t complain though now that we’re spoilt for choice. Who’d have thought even a year ago that a game between Copenhagen vs a team I’ve never heard of would be shown in HD in the US.

    Echoing Gaz’s comments above, I found to be a useful resource. They have a nice scrolling graphical banner on the front page showing the upcoming TV schedules for EPL, Champions League, La Liga and Italian league. I just printed the banner for the EPL (that’s all I’m interested in) and I was set. They also have links to Match of The Day if you’re interested in downloading and watching it on your PC.

  9. Arsenal14

    August 18, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    Good points in the column Gaffer but this is much better than the days of 3-4 Premier League games on Fsc and 2 a weekened on Pay Per View and the days of 1 Champions League game on Espn and 1 on Classic a matchday (b4 Setenta came along)..Thought the Fox coverage of the Champions League was score results during the match of other games..once the Euro Feed kicked in in was great and the Pregame was better than any american for the CL that we ve had before..Great that they have Bobby Mc on it and Max was fine as a host! YYYYYYYYYYYYYES!

  10. Leecif

    August 18, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    I feel your pain, however it’s as much as a chore following the Premier League in England. We only see live matches when they are moved away from the traditional Saturday 3pm kick-off time (10am US), to either early or late Saturday or Sunday or occasionally Monday nights. Seeing all of these games requires a Sky Sports and ESPN subscription, and if you want HD that’s an extra premium added to your bill. Due to blackout rules to protect lower league attendances we see no actual coverage on a Saturday from 2:45pm until Match of the Day shows highlights of the day’s games at 10pm. We get Soccer Saturday on Sky Sports News – basically a load of ex-players sitting with the hero that is Jeff Stelling watching a few matches and getting match reports from all the leagues, but no coverage. Admittedly the 3pm games are available on mainland Europe and many pubs subscribe to German or other European pay-channels, but it’s a bit of a grey area and sometimes it’s hit or miss whether a game will get coverage!

  11. NewtonHeath

    August 18, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    dvr definitely helps in this regard. Some cable channels in the US have the option to group channels by specific sports and you can go to ‘soccer’ on the listing and it will show all the matches for that particular sport for that day. then just go through and hit record on them.

    still a pain in the ass though considering how many different channels show matches. the solution is a consolidation in the industry where most likely we’ll have fsc and espn bringing the majority of the matches in the future. obviously there are anti-competitive problems there but that’s the easiest way to streamline it. espn has marked their intentions here and hopefully it means more good things to come.


  12. Tony

    August 18, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    The Gaffer brings up an important point – who has the time to watch all these games? For me, I have to prioritize, and watching United in the EPL is all I’m interested in right now.

    What I would love is for someone in the US to screen BBC’s Match of the Day (a highlights show screened on weekend evenings).

  13. manubhoy

    August 18, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    Once you get a hang of the EPL or La Liga schedule, it’s not to bad to figure out who’s going to be playing on what channel on a week to week basis. But I understand how some casual fans must be confused. I tried to explain to some of my friends that Man United are rarely on FSC because Setanta always picks their games, but they didn’t even know Sentata had EPL rights. I can see thousands of casual fans flipping on ESPN2 when the group stages of the Champions League starts and wondering where the game went.

    Even as a hardcore fan I have major problems with international games. England, Brazil and Argentina are usually PPV and that’s easy, but other countries might be on FSC, Gol TV, Setanta, or even ESPN Deportes (which really messes me up). Last week I just couldn’t find the Scotland game and just figured that it wasn’t on TV, and then found out later it was on Setanta on tape delay. I’m actually glad I missed that one!

  14. Morgan

    August 18, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    Pick a league, Pick a Team to support. Watch that game every weekend. Done.

    • Gaz

      August 18, 2009 at 2:06 pm

      What about:
      Your team’s rivals, big 4 square-offs, relegation battles, Goliath killers, the big 4 battle, Yanks playing in the league, games with 6+ goals, etc, etc, etc…

      You’d be missing out on a lot in my opinion.

      I have a league and a team… and me and my mate watch that game every weekend it’s possible. Then I go home a watch the others… time permitting. Done.

  15. Jason

    August 18, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    It’s tough for new fans to keep up, but I don’t know what you do about it as FSC, Setanta, and GolTV aren’t marketed toward a prospective fan.

    ESPN, hopefully, will get enough new fans interested in the game and wanting more EPL, La Liga and Bundesliga. This is the year when ESPN will really push ESPN360. If they get the rights to stream Monday Night Football, look for the other big cable companies besides Comcast to hop aboard.

  16. BH

    August 18, 2009 at 1:17 pm TV/Satellite forums


  17. Tim

    August 18, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    Like a poster above, I’m wondering what’s going on with ESPN360 and the new ESPN EPL sublicense.

    Did ESPN not pick up a license to show these games on ESPN360? There isn’t any way to get them online other than or the like?

    • The Gaffer

      August 18, 2009 at 1:24 pm

      No news from ESPN regarding whether their Premier League games will be on ESPN360 or not. You would think they would, but it’s possible that Fox may have retained the broadband rights to those games.

      As soon as I find out from ESPN, I’ll let you know.

      The Gaffer

  18. DaveMo

    August 18, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    Clearly it’s now an embarrassment of riches. In some ways, I preferred the “old days” when the matches featuring big four sides (talking EPL only here) were shown live on FSC or Setanta, and the rest of the matches were shown delayed on those same two channels. That method exactly fit my viewing habits, and (more importantly) the capacity of my dual-tuner DVR.

    …now though, it’s quite possible that there could be four matches shown simultaneously at the 10AM eastern time slot. ESPN2 (unlike Setanta and FSC) will not be repeating their matches in the evening (and again in the wee hours). Programming the DVR now got a little more complicated, and the days are coming that we will have to choose between what to watch, what to record, and what to forego.

    I use livesoccertv constantly, but they have yet to add DirecTV’s new channels 461-466 or the “sportsnet” channels (CSN and FSN).

    …and with last week’s USA-Mexico match, I suppose you also have to consider Telemundo and MUN2 as channels that may have matches of interest.

    • The Gaffer

      August 18, 2009 at 1:27 pm

      DaveMo, you hit the nail on the head. The addition of ESPN as a player in showing EPL games means that we have to change our viewing habits. It’s practically impossible for we soccer fans to watch every game. We used to, because there weren’t that many.

      But now we have reached the tipping point in the soccer watching experience on US television. From here on will never be the same again. More people will get to watch games, but we diehards will have to pick and choose which ones we watch.

      The Gaffer

  19. ju-ac

    August 18, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    It is a chore to keep track of. But on a positive note, the advances in technology that we are seeing are awesome for the soccer fan.

    I forgot to set the CL pre-game show to record on my DVR today. From work I was able to access my DVR over the internet and set it to record the pre-game show. (This is possible on DirecTV and Dish Network, not sure about the cable dvr’s.)

    With HD we can see the matches not only in crystal-clear clarity, but in widescreen that lets us see much more of the action.

    Another example is the advancements to internet video and streaming. Want to watch some soccer anytime, anywhere you have internet access? No problem with ESPN 360,, setanta-i, etc. And the picture quality on these services is far better than it was just a couple of years ago.

    There is something called SlingBox that allows you to watch over the internet anything you have on your dvr or any live games on your TV. And Dish Network will soon include this Sling Player in one of its upcoming DVRs.

    It’s a fabulous time to be a soccer fan.

    • The Gaffer

      August 18, 2009 at 12:39 pm

      It is a chore, but we do get to see more games and there is more technology coming on board to help us, I agree.

      Another example is an iPhone app for DirecTV customers which allows you to access your DVR while you’re away from home. More info at

      The Gaffer

      • ju-ac

        August 18, 2009 at 12:51 pm

        Oh that IPhone app will have a lot of wives and girlfriends cursing. They’ll be wondering why we’re so quiet when we go out to dinner…until they see we’ve got our iPhones hidden under the table with the EPL match streaming onto it!

  20. Gaz

    August 18, 2009 at 12:24 pm


    Your is missing the Liverpool match against Stoke on the 20th at 8PM EST on Fox (though the match is really on the 19th).

    • The Gaffer

      August 18, 2009 at 12:41 pm

      Hi Gaz,

      The schedule only includes first-run games, not repeats. It’s hard enough work keeping track of the first time the games run let alone the reruns!

      The Gaffer

      • Gaz

        August 18, 2009 at 1:45 pm

        Haha… fair enough.

  21. John

    August 18, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    Funnily enough I have noticed this too!

    Between the EPL matches on ESPN2 and FSC –
    the Bundesliga matches on GolTV and ESPN Deportes
    the Dutch matches on ESPN Deportes
    the Mexican matches on Telemundo, ESPN Deportes, Telefutura
    the MLS on FSC, Telefutura
    Champions League on Fox Sports Net, FSC, FSE
    EPL on Setanta

    And most of them being on at the same time..

    etc, etc.. I don’t even know where I’m going with this

    • The Gaffer

      August 18, 2009 at 12:12 pm

      If it’s too complicated for the die-hard fans like us, imagine how confusing it must be for new fans to the sport.

      There’s got to be an easier way (other than having a monopoly). I’m not sure what that is yet. But Gaz’s comment above is on the right path.

      The Gaffer

  22. Gaz

    August 18, 2009 at 11:43 am

    I totally agree. It’s really hard to keep track of it all. At some point during this season, I’m going to miss a game that I would love to see because it slips through the cracks as I am checking all these providers.

    I said this before in a comment… someone could make a very popular site by developing a web site that allowed you to chose the competitions you are interested in and the channels / web-based channels you have access to and prints up a weekly / monthly schedule.

    So I could say: I have FSC, ESPN2, and Setanta-i and I want to watch EPL and Champions’s League. It can then print me out a weekly schedule… or even email me weekly!

    So… someone get on that. 🙂

    Seriously, though… is pretty good. They don’t update as often as I like (week two just got finished yesterday, I believe) and they could have a few more competitions (though really I’m only interested in the EPL and Champion’s League – with the occasional dash of Championship) but all-in-all pretty good.

  23. Hebb

    August 18, 2009 at 11:28 am

    With a roaring broadband connection I haven’t bothered getting cable, so I watch all the games streaming on my tele. Setanta helped me pair down my game watching by unloading two games per week from there schedule. Price comparison between Setanta-i and made my decision pretty easy: I am dumping my Setanta-i subsciption (thank God I didn’t get the annual). Though, the lads over at are very slow on the uptake and I have no idea if they are going to ever stream live. The Liverpool game on Sunday was only available after 1pm Pacific Time, which left me in my pajamas and Liverpool scarf in the wee hours a little miffed. Does anyone know if ESPN is going to use Espn360 to broadcast the two EPL games they picked up?

  24. Roon

    August 18, 2009 at 11:21 am

    Not to mention CHs 460-466 for DirecTV customers (Chelsea Sunderland in HD!) which is showing many of the CL games. Took me an hr last night to decide how to program my PVR thru Sun. Be nice when DTV gets their on-screen schedules up-to-date though so I’m not recording 5 or 6 ESPN hunting shows to see the game.

  25. Pakapala

    August 18, 2009 at 11:06 am

    I would never complain about having soccer games on many different channels, or say that it’s a chore. Let’s be real: this is a real treat, makes me feel like a kid in a candy store.

  26. winstongator

    August 18, 2009 at 10:35 am

    I don’t know how you’re complaining. You get a 745 game in HD on a channel far more people get than FSC. I’d be interested to see the ratings difference for the football vs. hunting. I can’t imagine ESPN competitively bidding for the rights to what was previously in that slot. Setanta isn’t an option on my carrier, so I make do with FSC and am thrilled to have more games on the wwl. The difference in games in HD vs std def is so huge I’d like to see FSC merged into another fox channel that is available in hd.

    • The Gaffer

      August 18, 2009 at 11:03 am

      Hi Winston,

      I’m not complaining about the coverage. I’m complaining about how difficult it is to stay on top of the games and how the schedule changes so much.

      The Gaffer

  27. ju-ac

    August 18, 2009 at 10:14 am

    Re: “Some of the soccer TV networks in the United States need to do a better job at sharing their schedules in a more timely fashion, but in their defense, the schedules sometimes aren’t firmed up until days before a game.”

    This one is especially frustrating, since the cable/dish companies seem to use various services to supply them with tv listings. Some channels get their schedules updated on a timely basis, while other channels don’t have complete listings for the following week, or may have innacurate listings. And if changes are made by the soccer channel, it may or may not show up on the cable/dish tv listings right away. I constantly have to go the soccer channels’ websites to verify if the listings on my cable service are accurate. This plays heck with trying to schedule dvr recordings.

  28. Patrick

    August 18, 2009 at 9:54 am

    Hey Gaffer,

    Your schedule says the wigan wolves game will be on setanta xtra today, but it is not showing up on setanta’s website tv listings. Do you know if that game will be on or not today?

    Thanks for all the great coverage!

    • The Gaffer

      August 18, 2009 at 11:14 am

      Patrick, good catch and this is a great example of how much of a chore it is to stay updated on schedule changes. The TV networks need to do a much better job of alerting viewers when schedule changes happen.

      Setanta Xtra was originally scheduled to show Wigan v Wolves today.

      The latest I heard is that it will be shown at 4:45pm ET — delayed — on the regular Setanta Sports channel instead.

      The Gaffer

  29. TheOtherJones

    August 18, 2009 at 9:45 am

    I don’t think I would call it a chore. I think people are getting a little greedy with how much they want. Between all the soccer networks people can see over a dozen leagues and all the big competitions. Even if one were to subscribe to all the soccer channels they’d still pay much less than people pay for NFL Sunday Ticket (I’m also a big NFL fan). Let’s just be glad no one broadcasts the entire EPL and then tries to charge $300 for the season package. Places like do a great job at simplifying which games are where.

  30. JC

    August 18, 2009 at 8:44 am

    This is also a good place for keeping on top of things.

  31. oracledba

    August 18, 2009 at 8:42 am

    what anouncers are fox using? hopefully not their in-house mls guys? i’m no fan of tommy smythe and i think its great that fox is showing all of the games, but bretos and those other guys are just brutal.

    • The Gaffer

      August 18, 2009 at 9:40 am

      Oracle, FSC will be using the international feed for commentaries. The in-house guys will be available for pre-game, half-time and post-match analysis.

      The Gaffer

      • goldwater9

        August 18, 2009 at 3:00 pm

        Watching the Celtic-Arsenal game now, this appears not to be the case.

  32. JC

    August 18, 2009 at 8:41 am

    According to
    The Wigan v. Man Yoo game is scheduled 3pm kick off in the UK therefore it won’t be on ESPN2 this saturday.

    • Ivan

      August 18, 2009 at 9:16 am

      There isn’t a 7:45am game this Saturday, and in that case, ESPN2 has the first pick to the 10am(3pm in England) game, which is Wigan-Man. Utd. The game will be live on ESPN2.

    • Christopher

      August 18, 2009 at 9:17 am

      Yes it will, ESPNsoccernet.come is showing it on their schedule.. 10:00am Eastern on ESPN2.

  33. Joel

    August 18, 2009 at 8:37 am

    It sure can be a hassle, especially if your can’t get your hands on all of the channels. What a wonderful problem to have, though.

  34. forweg

    August 18, 2009 at 8:26 am

    I just watch as much English football as I can and forget about the rest (including the repulsive “Champions League”).

  35. Nick Davies

    August 18, 2009 at 7:51 am

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