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Setanta's Likely Demise Will Be a Dark Day For Soccer Fans in US

setanta-sports-logoIt doesn’t look good for Setanta Sports. The network, which over the past decade transformed the soccer landscape in the United States by offering more soccer coverage than anyone else, is on its last legs and in the next 72 hours looks likely to be acquired by Fox Soccer Channel.

While on the surface this sounds like good news, I beg to differ. Here’s why.

Reading between the lines, the logical explanation for Setanta USA having its Premier League and Champions League coverage removed from the list of sports packages it provides is its inability to pay Fox Soccer Channel for the right to sublicense the content. With rising costs for rights fees and consumers cutting back during this recession, it’s difficult for a network to break even let alone make money.

Fox Soccer Channel already owns the U.S. rights to the very costly Premier League and Champions League. If and when Fox acquires Setanta, Fox will pick up rights to other leagues and cups it currently doesn’t have such as the Carling Cup, Coca-Cola Championship (which Setanta currently shares with ESPN 360), Lique Un, Russian Premier League, Scottish Premier League, MUTV, Chelsea TV and other tournaments as well as additional sports such as rugby and gaelic football.

However, the million dollar question is what Fox will do with Setanta and these rights. My gut tells me that Fox will acquire Setanta Sports for the rights only and will shut down Setanta. The rights it acquires can then be sub-licensed to ESPN, DirecTV, GolTV and Versus. But there’s little guarantee that all of the rights will be picked up by the other broadcasters. Plus if Fox decides to keep some of them, there isn’t much available time on its network to show these games especially during an already very congested schedule.

So the net net for soccer fans is that it looks very likely that we’ll see the amount of soccer coverage in this country decline if and when Setanta gets gobbled up by Fox. Of course, I could be totally wrong with this but I don’t foresee Fox Soccer Channel expanding its programming by using the Setanta Sports and Setanta Xtra channels.

It could be terrible news for soccer fans, but it’ll be even worse news for followers of rugby and gaelic sports. Still, until the deal is signed and Fox shares their vision of what they plan on doing, I’ll remain hopeful that there’s a way to salvage the empire that Setanta built and to provide its programming to soccer fans throughout this great country of ours.

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  1. victor

    January 9, 2010 at 9:34 am

    Ya awesome news for at least a while. Just please stay on for the fa cup replay

  2. The Gaffer

    January 8, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    The Associated Press has just picked up the story, which has already been picked by USA Today and Newsday:

    The Gaffer

  3. The Gaffer

    January 8, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    Victor, just a couple of hours ago. Read the latest article to find out more details at

    The Gaffer

  4. victor

    January 8, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    the arsenal everton game is back up on’s schedule for sat. when did that happen?

  5. boringarsenal

    January 8, 2010 at 12:49 am

    From Setanta Sports USA; Premier League matches are gone, no mention of the league now at all….time to log-in to my DIRECTV account and cancel the service.

  6. boringarsenal

    January 8, 2010 at 12:30 am

    Well, this explains why Setanta isn’t showing any Premier League matches this coming week-end. Instead we are getting FL Championship on Saturday in place of the previously scheduled Arsenal v Everton match, which is nowhere to be found. Gaffer, am I correct in stating that Setanta only shows the Championship feed from SKY TV? SKY isn’t broadcasting the Championship on Saturday, so what gives?!
    The funny thing is, I just renewed Setanta on my DIRECTV service; I felt that I would be missing my Gunners, but it looks like the end is near for Setanta.

    • The Gaffer

      January 8, 2010 at 1:40 am

      BA, I don’t watch a lot of Championship football, so I honestly can’t tell you whether it’s usually a Sky feed or not, but perhaps one of our astute readers can fill you in on the details…

      The Gaffer

  7. Eric

    January 7, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    I will agree that less soccer will be shown on tv because of the demise of setanta sports. One has to consider what games will become unavailable. If you are a fan of the premier league, fear not. The popularity of the EPL will result in (a) other channels picking up the coverage or (b) fox soccer channel showing them on tape delay. They paid too much money for all these rights to show the games, they will do whatever it takes to cash in. As for some of the less popular soccer setanta aired: CC championship, Scotish premier league, etc. If you are fans of these leagues, I would worry a little more, but as someone already pointed out, espn360 could end up picking up that stuff OR fox soccer channel could end up making their own version of espn360, forcing internet providers or users to sign up for it.

    In any case, all of the sports showed on setanta that some are worried about becoming inaccessible were not very accessible on setanta anyways. As the Dave K mentioned and others, setanta was not available for a large portion of people in the US. On many MAJOR cable networks it was completely unavailable. Whereas fox soccer channel (if I am not mistaken is a younger channel) became readily available on most all cable and satellite TV providers. Setanta tried to hold out for more money by offering these rediculous ppv options that were a complete rip off. In the late 90s you could watch the premier league at a cost of 20dollars a game on setanta! Not till fox soccer channel stepped onto the scene and became more available, did setanta start trying to offer soccer for a reasonable price. Setanta were greedy. They weren’t nearly as succesful as FSC at providing the US with ACCESSIBLE soccer (who the hell can afford 20dollars a game in the late 90s and 15 dollars a month for one channel up till hte present? What a freakin’ rip off).

  8. Dave K

    January 7, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    You raise some good points about what happens to the rights, but dont forget:

    1. I’ve been waiting for 10 years for Setanta to be on cable to no avail. Shutting out millions of homes isnt a smart idea, so now more English Soccer will be available to more people – which is a good thing
    2. They aren’t/weren’t the most organized channel – I lost count of the number of times there were last minute schedule changes that ultimately meant I missed the game I wanted to watch. Their decision to air a meaningless Championship game over Easter of this year instead of the #1 vs #2 title decider was also rather curious!
    3. They won no fans by mandating a cover charge to bars showing games. Double dipping like this (charging the owner AND the people entering someone else’s premises!) can scarcely be legal!

    So, while I think it is definitely sad that the number of providers showing English soccer is reducing, and while I also agree that Setanta helped build the soccer audience in the US, I think they were an amateurish operation and can only blame themselves.

  9. Jason Prior

    January 6, 2010 at 10:48 am

    Setanta US and Setanta-i will be broadcasting thier last EPL match this afternoon, Arsenal vs Bolton. Beginning with this weekend’s fixtures Setanta will be broadcasting Championship matches in place of EPL matches. This from the Setanta schedule from their web site.

  10. CFTV

    January 6, 2010 at 1:44 am

    If I find some time at work tomorrow or in the next couple of days as I have been out of work under the weather the past couple of days I will take a look and see what the different Fox Sports Regional Networks air between 10am and noon on Saturdays and from 8:30am to 10:30am on Sundays. I am pretty sure a lot of them run local college and pro football coaches preview shows on Saturday mornings in the spring and college hoops coaches shows after the CFB season ends and like ESPN 2 they run Outdoor programming on Sunday Mornings but I will check for sure.

  11. eplnfl

    January 5, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    Good job again by the Gaffer for staying on top of the story and getting out to us. The loss of the channel itself is no threat. Frankly, it costs to too much given the amount of soccer that is the major channels, ie: FSC and ESPN to subscribe to the channel.

    It appears that the product will be available to the consumer in one form or another, either FSC 2 or ESPN, or ESPN 360, or a new version of FSW. The real loss to me would be to the growth of the other sports such as rugby that are growing in the US now the lack of tv exposure will harm their development.

    All in all after it’s all said and done a positive development.

  12. dlink09

    January 5, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    ok what happened to FSC HD channel. does any one get it

    • Orange County

      January 5, 2010 at 10:04 pm

      Fox Soccer Channel is not in HD yet. Both Dish and Direct TV are not yet planning on adding it. FSC might go HD this weekend, BUT, and its a big but, no providers have yet signed up to get it. Maybe that’s why Fox is waiting to get providers to sign up before they go HD. Im guessing Direct TV will add it in March, as they just launched a new satellite, while Dish has more capacity, you might expect it there around the end of January or early February.
      I also heard they might have a big announcement on Fox Soccer Report tomorrow, stay tuned..

  13. Orange County

    January 5, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    Im telling you guys, this is it. This is the moment were soccer will start its amazing upward trend here. Fox is getting ready for next years rise of viewers after the world cup. Trust me, HD on Fox, EPL, Champions league, ESPN. This is a revolution!

  14. MasterBlaster

    January 5, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    I’ve gotta say, if Fox is promising a big announcement by the end of the day tomorrow, it seemingly has to be a positive. Can’t imagine they’d hype up some sort of announcement and then come out and say Setanta will no longer show Premier League games and we have nowhere to put them.

    Let the speculation begin as to what kind of change this could be (and this is assuming it is a positive one).

  15. Joel

    January 5, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    Just tweeted by Derek Taylor – “Big surprise on Wednesday’s Fox Soccer Report. Must be tuning in.” Something with regards to this topic, perhaps?

  16. Jeff

    January 5, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    I just want to be able to watch all the Manchester United games. i haven’t missed one all year because I finally purchased the subscription to Setanta Broadband this year. All I know is this better not change.

  17. Panda

    January 5, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    I don’t think it’s as dire as it seems. Yes, losing Setanta is unfortunate considering the years it was our main portal to the European leagues, but with the rise of FSC and ESPN, it’s a telling sign as to why Setanta is finally folding after all these years.

    Setanta’s demise is kind of a blessing in disguise. There are more channels out there. Instead of just one niche channel showing niche sports, you have multiple niche channels showing niche sports. This is the perfect programming for FSN regional networks in the winter and spring when there isn’t college football. They could also show these games midweek live or tape delay during the week. ESPN has three channels that could show these games (U, classic, and deportes).

    In the end there’s a place for all these leagues. Of course, it all boils down to the almighty dollar and if these other networks are willing to pay but for FOX, they have places to put them if they do choose so.

    • ovalball

      January 5, 2010 at 8:18 pm

      Don’t mean to pour cold water on your premise, but here in the Southland (NC) college football is only something that keeps college basketball from starting sooner. The winter is most definitely not “open” for other programming! 🙂

      • Dave

        January 5, 2010 at 8:29 pm

        Nonsense. Basketball games don’t tip off before noon here, and Raycom has those. If FSC keeps the matches it has now and sublicenses the 7:45 AM Saturday, 10:00 AM Saturday, 8:30 AM Sunday and “Monday Night” matches to ESPN2, it wouldn’t interfere at all with ESPN’s college football and basketball programming.

        • ovalball

          January 5, 2010 at 8:53 pm

          Point taken with regard to ESPN. I was specifically referring to the “availability” of FSN regional networks mentioned in the post. Any attempt to bump ACC basketball, which FSN carries as Fox Sports Carolinas, would raise the perfect storm.

          • ovalball

            January 5, 2010 at 9:08 pm

            And, of course, ESPN can’t possibly dump its afternoon coverage of college basketball either. Morning matches would work.

    • Kennyd'skeks

      January 6, 2010 at 9:41 pm

      Thing is FSC commentary is shyte ESPN are worse. I want SPL
      Championship rugby hurling and that won’t happen on any other
      channel other than Setanta. Dolan Dempsey and guests were quality.
      FSC will be red devil TV because that’s all they know.

  18. CFTV

    January 5, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    I’ll never understand why FSC subliscencsed the 1st choice game at 10am on Saturdays to Setanta which is the ultimate niche channel that most people aren’t aware of or couldn’t get since just about most cable companies don’t offer the network. If Fox wanted to build the Premiership brand here in the States by showing the best games in that time period when most games are played it would have kept the 1st choice game in that time period for themselves and gave Setanta the 2nd and 4th choice game or even alternated between who got the 1st choice game every other week.

    And people are right even with Setanta showing games with most people not having the ability access the network on their cable company it just drove people to watching games online through all of the different streaming sites on the interwebs.

    Hopefully ESPN 2 and Versus decide to tip their toes into the water picking up more futbol coverage on their network and that Fox starts up a 2nd network devoted to futbol.

    • David the Yank

      January 5, 2010 at 8:45 pm

      They just wanted the $$$ and Setanta was willing to “pay up” for the 1st choice but not the 2nd choice match. Note I put quotes around the “pay up” because it was always iffy whether FSC would actually collect the money!! And clearly now they will not.

      So the good that’s happened so far this season: 7:45am Eastern time game moved to “free” ESPN2 and in true Hi-Def! Monday matches moved to ESPN2 and in true Hi-Def! The 10am game will now hopefully revert to first choice FSC (or 1st choice ESPN2 and 2nd choice FSC when there’s no 7:45 game). FSC introduced the 5 pm delayed matches, often on Saturday & Sunday too.

      The potential bad: who is going to pick up 8:30 am matches on Sunday? If ESPN2 or FSC, then this is excellent news, not bad. WIll Fox introduce a method (PPV live, on-demand internet, 2nd/3rd/4th channel) so that we can see all/any of the 10 matches should we so choose. Also, will prepaid setanta-i subscribers get refunds or equivalent content from Fox or setanta?

      • ovalball

        January 5, 2010 at 9:28 pm

        “Also, will prepaid setanta-i subscribers get refunds or equivalent content from Fox or setanta?”

        Although I am a yearly subscriber, I’m not certain. I think I remember in the “Terms” that there would be no refunds, but in this situation, who knows about things like equivalent content? One can hope….but not hold your breath.

  19. Smitty

    January 5, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    Setanta US could only muster up 65,000 subscribers at $15/month or $180/yr, and now you are suggesting to break their package into parts and sell it for $500 (or $1000) each?

    Good luck making money doing that. I would definitely walk away, and I am one of the 65,000….

  20. Brad

    January 5, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    I don’t really have any new thoughts on this topic but those of you commenting wanting Special 1 TV to come back may or may not have seen this:

    There are a few tweets regarding the show coming back. The first mention of it is on Dec. 18th but there are no real details.

  21. Brett

    January 5, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    I found this post on interesting:

    Apparently, FSI registered for Fox Soccer + for both TV and internet.

  22. Jason Gatties

    January 5, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    Glad you can afford to pay $1000 per year for the EPL. Most of us live in the real world.

    • Zak

      January 5, 2010 at 9:00 pm

      Seriously?! A $1000 for the EPL. These people live in a dream world. Oh and then add another package for the Champions Cup. Maybe we can all spend about $5-6 grand a year on soccer on tv. Thinking like this is what stunted soccer’s growth on tv in the US for so long. Put everything on PPV for 30 bucks a match and soon soccer will be as popular in the States as it is elsewhere. Seriously, the logic that some people use (or don’t)!

  23. JC

    January 5, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    Can I dare to dream about a possible package for the entire EPL season, similar to DirecTV’s NFL Package? Screw the idea of another channel and a few more handpicked games. For $500 a year (heck, even $1000), give me every game of the season, in HD (naturally. ;)). I’ll write that check this afternoon.

    Then do the same for UEFA CL, FA & Carling and life will be beautiful.

    Oh, and like coachie points out, Special One TV needs to come back.

    Be Champions!

    • RIP

      January 5, 2010 at 6:57 pm

      This would be perfect. I will also write the check right now.

      • AtlantaPompey

        January 5, 2010 at 8:16 pm

        The NFL/NBA/MLB packages are all reasonable and work out to pennies per game. Spread out over 10 months I think most of us could spring the $150 that those packages usually run. That’s what I pay for Setanta right now. Very reasonable, a good idea, and probably won’t happen. But it can be fun to dream…

  24. coachie ballgames

    January 5, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    It’s really a shame that Gaelic Football matches are near-unattainable to view. It has such massive spectator appeal.

    Still missing Special One TV as well.

  25. CR7

    January 5, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    Comcast finally offers it here, and now it looks like it’s going to be gone. Didn’t even get a month in of comcast offering it.

  26. James Dunn

    January 5, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    I am a subscriber to Setanta-I as I cannot get Setanta USA because Comcast has never offered it though they said they were going to for the last year. The thing I enjoy most about Setanta-i is the ability to watch it on the road. Now Fox has their crappy internet channel as well and I’m a yearly subscriber to that. But they NEVER show any EPL games live. In fact they only show Italy league live and a few random other games. Now they will probably screw the pooch on Setanta-i.

  27. StephenLucey

    January 5, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    Stoke v. Fulham is live now on Setanta Sports.

    • ovalball

      January 5, 2010 at 3:05 pm

      Also on Setanta-i. Thanks. 🙂

      • The Gaffer

        January 5, 2010 at 3:06 pm

        Woo-hoo!! (seriously)

        The Gaffer

        • Jeff

          January 5, 2010 at 3:18 pm

          According to some info posted over at BigSoccer, today and tomorrow will be that last two EPL games on Setanta USA…

          We know the following:

          1. Setanta Sports North America Limited owes FSI at least $2 million in sublicensing fee for U.S. video rights to EPL matches in January-May 2010.

          2. Setanta owes FSI a sublicensing fee for “2nd pick” Round of 16 and Quarterfinal matches in the 2009-2010 UEFA Champions League.

          3. Setanta Sports USA doesn’t have enough residential subscribers (believed to be around 65000) to generate enough revenue to cover the sublicense fees owed to FSI.

        • man99utd

          January 5, 2010 at 3:28 pm

          I was streaming the match online via BBC Radio 5 Live until some bloke sussed it and turned it off…..aaggghhh

  28. ovalball

    January 5, 2010 at 2:56 pm


    So BigSoccer gives you a shout on the breaking news and your servers lock up?

    Seriously, I have had increasing difficulty in the last few weeks accessing epltalk. It was so bad a week ago I actually wondered if you had gone under. Can it be just me?

    • The Gaffer

      January 5, 2010 at 3:31 pm

      We were down for 45 minutes over the weekend due to a hard-drive issue at my hosting provider. First issue like that in 2 years.

      We’ve been hit with a ton of traffic today, but the downtime has been minimal. We’re alive and kicking, no worries!

      The Gaffer

      • David the Yank

        January 5, 2010 at 8:39 pm

        You were definitely down again early this morning East Coast time…

        • The Gaffer

          January 5, 2010 at 8:46 pm

          David, I wasn’t aware of this. Let me bring it to the attention of the techies. Thanks.

          For readers, you can always reach me on Twitter through to notify me of issues if you’re unable to access the site.

          The Gaffer

  29. JR

    January 5, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    I’ve been a Setanta subscriber on Dish for more than two years and have NEVER had any trouble with them. FSC, on the other hand, is just terrible. This is not a good day so far. I hope something else can be done, because Murdoch has stated often that he could care less about content — just advertising revenue. He’s the Clear Channel of television.

  30. MUFC1964

    January 5, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    I hope that the current coverage continues in Canada as between Setanta Sports Canada, Rogers Sportsnet and the Score we get all 10 games per round. I think Sportsnet has the rights and they sub-license them to the others (8 to Setanta and 1 to the Score and Sportsnet keeps 1).

    Fox Sports World Canada is a dire excuse for a soccer channel for anyone wanting to watch the Premier League.

  31. Kidslumber

    January 5, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    PPV & espn360 are not my first choice for programming options.
    I like my “flat fee, here’s what you get” from Setanta. It’s
    well worth $0.50 a day.

    Hopefully fsc is doing this for the right reasons
    and not to screw the customer, or else pirate
    feeds will become even more prominent.

    I hope the Gaffer’s wrong but I sense bad news
    on the horizon.

  32. Fulham Dave

    January 5, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    I respect Gaffer tremendously and originally panicked when I saw the news, but the lawyer in me says…

    a) Fox is picking up the assets of Setanta USA on the cheap, no? Would not those assets include the right of Setanta of carriage on its current distribution partners? If I am then correct, why would Fox change anything? They already own the rights to show the games (and have sublicensed them to Setanta USA). Why wouldn’t Setanta just be subject to a name change in the near future?

    b) The immediate loser here, financially, is Fox. They lose their revenue stream from the sublicense, which almost certainly hits the bottom line. BUT, and importantly, that sublicense apparently expired on 12/31 (I’m just going by what I’ve read here). If so, then Fox is going to take a one-time hit on the purchase of Setanta USA’s assets (for a price that we could probably muster up on this website) but then gain the advertising/subscription dollars that Setanta was previously earning. Now that hits the top line and, with the addition of HD and Fox’s greater distribution ability, hopefully the bottom as well.

    Anyway, I have no clue, despite trying to sound like I do. But unless I’m missing something here, I don’t know that the immediate change should be that bad (echoing the person above – why would Fox purchase the assets and then devalue the asset they are purchasing by shutting it down?). The long-term effect may actually be quite good.

    Hopeful in LA…

  33. United Red Devil

    January 5, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    Hey guys!
    I live in Los Angeles. Direct TV as my carrier.
    ANY idea of when the proposed FSC-HD is supposed to come into effect?
    Thanks a lot!

  34. Scott

    January 5, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    The only big plus, a very possible to non-existent one at that, is the possibility of actual Scottish Premier League coverage! I hated that Setanta would never show anything near to same day, why the hell do I have to wait till Weds after a Sunday Old Firm match to see the game?!

    Hopefully this does more harm then good…

  35. man99utd

    January 5, 2010 at 12:45 pm


    If FSI already own the EPL rights wouldn’t it be in their financial interest to show them on FSC or sub-license them? Additionally, do you know if Setanta owned any rights or only subbed them?


    • The Gaffer

      January 5, 2010 at 12:57 pm

      Man99Utd, it would best financial sense for FSC to sub-license the EPL rights out (some of them) to other companies, but there’s no guarantee that these other networks will pay the money Fox wants. As for Setanta, they sub-licensed some of the rights from Fox, but they owned some of their own rights too for other leagues.

      The Gaffer

  36. uh?

    January 5, 2010 at 11:57 am

    except not even half of soccer fans have setanta, so get over it. someone will replace their coverage.

    • The Gaffer

      January 5, 2010 at 12:01 pm

      Uh, do you ever have anything positive to say?

      There’s no guarantee that the rights will be taken over by someone else. Some or most of it, yes. But all of it, I doubt it. These rights cost money and during a recession that we’re in, companies have to make sure they can make money off the programs they show. And some of the Setanta programming is VERY niche.

      The Gaffer

      • bluefanmd

        January 5, 2010 at 2:05 pm

        Where else can you watch hurling?

      • Dave

        January 5, 2010 at 8:20 pm

        C’mon, Gaffer. Setanta brings in $975,000 a month from subscription fees. ESPN brings in $357.7 MILLION a month in carriage fees from cable and satellite companies. They can pay more than Setanta, and in the lead-up to the World Cup, I see little reason why they wouldn’t, even with the ratings they’re getting now.

        The only way ESPN doesn’t pick these EPL ties up is if Fox decides to shift these games onto its regional Sports Net channels, which it could do, and which it *will* do for the Champions League knockout stage, because it can.

        As for the other leagues, there’s always ESPN360. That’s where the AFL ended up when Setanta dropped that, and there’s already a ton of football on there as it is.

        • The Gaffer

          January 5, 2010 at 8:28 pm

          Dave, I’m not saying it’s not possible. It’s just that you can’t guarantee that ESPN is going to swoop in to pick up more soccer rights. Sure, I’d love for that to happen and even with all of the money they make, they need to conscientious of the fact that they have to make money. They can’t simply throw money at rights and expect to turn a profit.

          The Gaffer

  37. Peter

    January 5, 2010 at 11:50 am

    I don’t think any of us really know if this is good news or bad news to be honest. This could be wonderful news if FSC simply makes a “FSC 2” channel and makes it HD. We would get to see pretty much every game in HD. It could be awful news if they just shut down the second channel and only play a limited amount of fixtures.

    I imagine it’ll come down somewhere in the middle, but it’s all so early to say.

  38. Jeff

    January 5, 2010 at 11:44 am

    I’m a fan of FSI/FSC getting these rights back and hopefully redistributing them. I only saw Setanta a couples times a year on their free previews on DirecTV. The feed quality was crap and not worth $15/month to me. I hope the Setanta channel turns into FSC2 or a new birth of Fox Sports World that will have overflow from FSC, along with other world sporting events.

    I also hope that ESPN picks up some more of the EPL rights in the US from FSI. ESPN programming early Saturday and Sunday morning is reruns and junk programming. Add an early start EPL game to Saturday, like Sunday and you have a winning combo.

  39. Gaz

    January 5, 2010 at 11:32 am

    I think people are being a little pessimistic here. I’m looking at this from an EPL fan perspective – one that I’m guessing most of you come from.

    The major pullers (EPL, Champion’s League, etc) will go right into FSC programming. There’s hardly a question about this. Why go to the trouble of acquiring something if you’re not going to at least take the good stuff?

    Lesser games (Championship, Carling Cup, etc) will be played on FSC on delay – probably at strange times.

    All else (all rugby, Russian League, etc) will probably go to ESPN to be put on at least 360.

    I’m super excited about (1) the possibility of seeing some Championship games on a television instead of my laptop and (2) getting everything that I cared about on Setanta without paying them the subscription fee.

  40. masterblaster

    January 5, 2010 at 11:17 am

    This episode of ‘As Setanta Sports Turns’ is getting quite interesting. Though, if we didn’t know the behind-the-scenes stuff, we might not have any clue of any happenings.

    Now that the Carling Cup semifinals have been cancelled, Setanta Sports has updated their site to show the Stoke-Fulham game live at 3pm EST.

    • Brett

      January 5, 2010 at 11:32 am

      Arsenal-Bolton match also now listed as live in the Carling Cup spot. Still nothing on the weekend though.

  41. ovalball

    January 5, 2010 at 11:16 am

    I recently renewed my yearly subscription to Setanta-i. Funny thing is, someone warned me to go monthly, but I didn’t listen. I enjoyed Setanta-i because it let me watch two EPL matches at the same time (TV & computer) and because I am also a rugby fan.

    Hopefully the rugby coverage will wind up with MediaZone which will suit me fine since I also subscribe to that. As far as the soccer coverage goes it seems that there are almost too many possibilities. It may take a while for everything to shake out. Short term I think we lose.

    For the optimists out there, I noticed my FoxSportsNetSouth channel with Time Warner is now identified as FSCHD on the channel guide. If only.

    • Fletch Spigner

      January 5, 2010 at 11:42 am

      Question: Where do you live? In some markets in NC/SC the channel is called Fox Sports Carolinas and it’s in HD, hence FSCHD. Does it actually say “Fox Soccer Channel HD?”

      • ovalball

        January 5, 2010 at 11:54 am

        Eastern NC. Duh. Thanks.

        • ovalball

          January 5, 2010 at 12:00 pm

          But I’m cryin’.

  42. Jason Gatties

    January 5, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Bring back Special1 TV Fox. Do It…

  43. AtlantaPompey

    January 5, 2010 at 10:55 am

    I believe that FSC will sub-license any and all matches from both the EPL and the CL to either the ESPN family of networks or put them on the already existing Fox Sports Net channels. This has the potential to be fantastic. We were seeing 4 or 5 live matches every Saturday, but with so many FSN channels, we could potentially see all of the live Saturday matches, on channels that are already in HD, and get to pick and choose what we watch.

    The only reason FSC would purchase Setanta would be to acquire an asset ( live matches) and then do something with it. ESPN has plenty of airtime, especially now that college football is over. FSN has always had plenty of airtime.

    Of course, most of this is not relevant to me, as not only is my team threatened with relegation, they are also threatened with going out of existence. Life as a neutral will not be as much fun.

    Pay Up Pompey!
    Pompey Pay Up!

  44. Jason Gatties

    January 5, 2010 at 10:53 am

    If this deal happens and Fox is only interested in certain soccer licenses, hopefully they will sub license what they don’t want (including Rugby & GAA) to ESPN. True, ESPN won’t waste more network time on EPL or any other soccer league and they really won’t waste it on rugby or GAA, but ESPN might be willing to add Fox’s “left overs” to

    Everyone here knows I’m most concerned about rugby & would be better than nothing. But on the soccer front, I’ve always enjoyed watching the Russian Premier League (in addition to the EPL of course). ESPN has had rights to that before and they would air it on Maybe this can happen again? I feel for those of you who don’t have free access to but for those of us who do, it would satisfy our needs. has been “rugby friendly” in the past & ESPN360 has also aired Aussie Rules & Cricket, so GAA would fit on that platform as well.

  45. Chris

    January 5, 2010 at 10:51 am

    the setanta usa homepage now lists EPL UEFACL on its homepage again. crosses fingers…

  46. Sam

    January 5, 2010 at 10:45 am

    Fletch, your point is irrelevant though. The only thing that matters is that we are losing a significant portion of EPL coverage when compared to what we had.

    I am personally not concerned with being thankful for what I have, but rather being upset about the fact that I pay for Setanta and I’m not going to get to watch any of the games that I paid for this weekend.

  47. Brett

    January 5, 2010 at 10:44 am has the Barclay’s Premier League back on their list of sports carried.

    Also, the Stoke-Fulham match is now listed as being shown live after the cancellation of the Carling Cup Match.

    Maybe Setanta isn’t dead afterall.

    • Brett

      January 5, 2010 at 10:47 am

      Champions League is back on there, too.

  48. Fletch Spigner

    January 5, 2010 at 10:37 am

    There is another dimension to this as well. Can anyone tell us how many and how often NFL matches are shown (live or delayed) in the UK? I am only guessing that the EPL coverage options in America are better than the NFL coverage options in the UK despite the fact that American football/NFL is a relatively popular sport/league in the UK???

    I guess what I am saying is that we actually have it pretty good. Unless you pay for NFL Sunday Ticket, NBA League Pass, etc. you aren’t going to get every NFL game, MLB game, or NBA game, even in America. We are watching high-level EPL matches(some in HD). Yes, I’d like to see my own personal favorite team every week, but their are plenty of NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL fans who are in the same predicament. Not that it’s ideal or preferable; just a thought.

    • Robert George

      January 5, 2010 at 10:44 am

      Channel 5 in England shows Monday night football live.

  49. jleau

    January 5, 2010 at 10:22 am

    I’m with the Gaffer sort of. This is a bad day because up until now an EPL fan had access to every game. Sure it was expensive and frustrating at times, but I could see any game I wanted every weekend. At this point, it’s impossible to tell if that access will continue.

    I think it’s critical to keep in mind that Fox is not buying Setanta. Setanta is most likely being liquidated due to non-payment. Fox is going to try and make as much money off those properties as possible. They may not have any wish to run another network.

    • Fan

      January 5, 2010 at 12:40 pm

      They only had access to every game if they were in a situation where they were subscribing to a service which offered Setanta. Not everyone can get or wants to get a Dish. It’s not cut and dry.

      • David the Yank

        January 5, 2010 at 2:28 pm

        Fan, was the way to get access to every game without a dish, e.g. for those of us here in Manhattan…

  50. Kevin

    January 5, 2010 at 10:20 am

    Did I miss something recently? Did just put up the “FSC in HD” splash on their homepage, or has that been there for awhile? Either way, can’t wait!! Hoping that FSC2 is in HD as well!!

  51. TheLaffer

    January 5, 2010 at 10:03 am

    Setanta had shady business practices, thank god those guys are gone. Last year I cancelled my subscription and received an email saying they got it and give them two weeks or something to cancel it… never got cancelled.

    So the next month I did the same thing, cancelled it again. Same response, same result. The next month I did the same thing and finally got it cancelled. But after I got charged for two months I didn’t want and for which I already cancelled and received email confirmation it was going to be cancelled.

  52. Evertonian

    January 5, 2010 at 10:01 am

    From what I understood from reading your articles in the past, SetantaUS was the profitable version of all the Setanta channels…
    If all else fails, at least we can get Iraqigoals or JustinTV on the net

    • olivert

      January 5, 2010 at 2:41 pm

      Setanta Sports USA the channel has NEVER come close to breaking even. The channel started losing money from Day 1 and the bleeding has never stopped.

      You can do the math yourself:

      65000 subscribers x $15/month x 50% (revenue split with cable/satellite carriers) x 10 months/year = $4.875 million in residential subscription revenue.

      Before Setanta had to give up the Saturday morning (0745 New York Time) and Monday night EPL matches, Setanta owed FOX Sports International $9.5 million in sublicensing fees for the U.S. video rights to the English Premier League.

      Don’t forget about the sublicensing fee for the UEFA Champions League, which is NOT cheap either.

      The French League may be a “cheap product”, but a “cheap product” still costs on the order of $1 million a season because the likes of GolTV is around to drive the rights fees to insane levels.

  53. John

    January 5, 2010 at 9:44 am

    If we assume Fox is a profit-seeking enterprise (and last time I checked they were), they would not seek to buy Setanta and then just scuttle the most valuable asset that acquisition has: EPL and UEFA rights. They will seek to sub-license or sell those rights immediately, or seek new advertising dollars by promising to show those games on one of the Fox networks and/or a FSC2.

    Optimism people, optimism…

    • Fletch Spigner

      January 5, 2010 at 10:15 am

      Precisely. I think the matches are just too valuable to NOT sub-license them in some way. But what do I know??

    • sucka99

      January 5, 2010 at 11:34 am

      since Champions League are on 2-per-day for the rest of the season they don’t need to sublicense those. But you’re right – the EPL is valuable. Valuable enough to charge $5/match PPV for for the big fixtures. IIRC the famous Arsenal – Man United game in 2004 where the 49 game unbeaten streak came to an end was … on PPV and replayed on FSC on the following Tuesday night.

      • bluefanmd

        January 5, 2010 at 2:02 pm

        Acutally, the round of sixteen will have four games each match-day. Of course, Fox has that covered with their additional channels!

    • David the Yank

      January 5, 2010 at 2:26 pm

      Fox would not be “acquiring” EPL rights from Setanta. Probably what happened was Setanta ran out of cash to pay Fox the fees for the rights Setanta had sub-licensed from Fox! So Fox takes back the rights and now has to decide what to do with them! Show the games itself, sub-license the Sunday a.m. game to ESPN (interferes with Sports Reporters, etc instead of fishing), or make them all PPV on

      Of course, FSC could choose to acquire (and rename) the Setanta cable channel, to use as its third (second is FSE) soccer channel in the US. And it could choose to acquire the setanta-i web site and its 65,000 subscribers.

      I deliberately chose a pay-per-month option for because i didn’t think they’d make it til June. Not sure what happens to those who prepaid for the season.

      • Berkeley-B

        January 5, 2010 at 3:07 pm

        Like this dumbass… ugh. Money down the drain 🙁

  54. man99utd

    January 5, 2010 at 9:42 am

    I’m usually somewhat negative on stuff like this, but I can’t see the lose of a network that pulls 65,000 viewers, versus FSC with 34 million as a bad thing. I like Everton, as a neutral, but let’s face it more people want to watch Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal, etc… so it makes no sense that they are ususally shown on a channel that has only 65,000 whilst we have to endure lessor quality on FSC and ESPN2. I think this will be a good thing in the long term.

    • Robert George

      January 5, 2010 at 9:51 am

      65000 viewers isn’t a bad thing when you think about how many people here in the US actually watch the EPL here. I think only twice as much watch the EPL on FSC or ESPN.

      I don’t want to watch Chelsea or Arsenal or Man Utd. I guess im biased being an Everton fan.

      • man99utd

        January 5, 2010 at 11:03 am

        no worries mate, i’m a biased man utd supporter…


  55. Civrock

    January 5, 2010 at 9:41 am

    Update by @SetantaUS on Twitter:

    “As soon as we have an update on recent news I will let everyone know.”

    This also confirms that there’s an announcement coming very soon.

  56. Robert George

    January 5, 2010 at 9:25 am

    I am with the gaffer 100% on this article. The loss of Setanta showing the EPL here in the US is very bad news.

    Im not a Murdoch fan and am scared of what he has done to football in the UK he will try to do here in the US. I did like the fact that 3 different channels where showing EPL games live.

    I not really a Fox Soccer channel fan. Yeah I watch it for the games that I wanna watch if they are on but I don’t want it to get to the point here in the US where its gonna be Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal on every weekend. Im an Everton fan and have been lucky the last 12 months to catch nearly every game on tv whether it be live or a tape delay.

    As for paying $14.99 a month for Setanta for EPL, I never moaned about that ever. I would still be happy to pay that to another broadcaster. Setanta was a premium channel it showed Rugby here and where can you find that on tv here? It was also what I would class as a minority channel.

    I just read that Setanta here in the US has 65000 subscribers. $974350 in revenue a month. Yes I know that theres overheads and cable/sat companies take there chunk but Setatna didn’t need the studios that FSC had all they needed to do was to broadcast the feed.

    I think this is going to be a sad start to the year to EPL here. Im gonna keep my eyes on this site for the next few days before I decide whether to cancel Setanta.

  57. Civrock

    January 5, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Sources at Fox Soccer are confirming an announcement in the next 72 hours. No comments what it’ll be about and specifically denying to comment on Setanta’s EPL coverage… which pretty much confirms the rumor for me. 🙂

  58. masterblaster

    January 5, 2010 at 9:16 am

    One thing that hopefully happens over the next week and even as soon as the weekend is that FSC and Setanta continue to work together during whatever negotiations are still going on. Hopefully in the short term we don’t miss any scheduled games, though I find it interesting that Setanta has moved to show at least three games from the Championship this weekend.

  59. Simon Burke

    January 5, 2010 at 9:14 am

    Aye just seen the CC games postponed so that may be the last time i ever would have cared about Setanta..

    Gaffer – cheers for this chilling news this morning 🙂

    In the short term i cant see this being good but if FSC get a second channel it may be wonderful but i cant see this happening in say the next 5 days.

  60. Grant

    January 5, 2010 at 9:06 am


    Is there any reason to believe that they wouldn’t use Fox Sports Net to show some of the live games Setanta used to have? If it’s good enough for the Champions League, it seems to me that it would be good enough for the Premier League.

    • masterblaster

      January 5, 2010 at 9:14 am

      It’s not like FSN has much going on during the afternoons as it is, aside from the occasional MLB game. I would think live games of any sport would be better than reruns or whatever FSN shows at that time during the morning/day.

      • sucka99

        January 5, 2010 at 11:26 am

        don’t be so sure. Remember that the ESPN hunting/fishing shows outrate the Premier League soccer. It’s probably why La Liga has been a ghost on ESPN since September.

  61. Fan

    January 5, 2010 at 9:05 am

    Given the small footprint, I don’t see this as a dark day because the possibility that some of these games could end up with a wider audience makes me hopeful.

    It’s dark for those who had access (and the time to watch) Setanta. It opens up new possibilities for many, many more people.

  62. Kevin

    January 5, 2010 at 8:50 am

    Dave, if what you say is true, wouldn’t ESPN just buy Setanta?

    All in all this is going to be interesting. I hope we don’t lose live games, but I am not sure how that is possible. I really doubt FSC creates a second channel.

    • Dave

      January 5, 2010 at 10:03 am

      Not necessarily. Buying a network with a different operating procedure and incorporating it into the ESPN business would likely result in a bit of a culture clash. It’s easier and perhaps a little cheaper to let Fox take on that headache and just sub-license the rights from them. That way, ESPN can keep its own established talent and/or cherry-pick from whoever is left on the market.

  63. Brett

    January 5, 2010 at 8:48 am

    Both Carling Cup Matches have just been postponed. With bad weather in the forcast, I wouldn’t be surprised if the match at Stoke also gets postponed. So, we may not have to worry about missing today’s matches on Setanta.

  64. Matthew N

    January 5, 2010 at 8:46 am

    Obviously we need Fox Soccer Channel 2 on every cable provider in the country so they can show all that content Setanta used to have!!! Oh, wishful thinking 🙂

  65. Civrock

    January 5, 2010 at 8:45 am

    I personally can’t see Fox dropping the Setanta channels completely respectively prevent all EPL games, and other programming that was available there, in some way. Be it via internet, delay or live on the Setanta channel(s)… they’ll be available somewhere.

    I just hope that Fox rethinks the whole $15/month plan Setanta had going because it’s simply not working as well as it could. Bad quality, not very good coverage in comparison to other channels (mainly FSC but also ESPN due to quality or even GolTV although their coverage quality is bad as well).

    I wouldn’t mind paying an additional $5/month for a premium soccer channel with even more extensive coverage than FSC.

  66. Dave

    January 5, 2010 at 8:40 am

    One possibility we’re not considering here: ESPN is sitting on a boatload of cash, and they can pay much more than Setanta to sub-license EPL & Champions League matches. Fox might see more profit over the next three years by buying out Setanta and selling half those games to ESPN, who clearly want to capitalize long-term off their World Cup coverage. And there are no bigger targets than the EPL and the UEFA CL.

    So this could turn out to be pretty good for EPL fans and fans of other leagues who have access to ESPN360, which is where the Scottish and French leagues might land. Rugby fans, meanwhile, will probably have to turn to MediaZone to get their fix and hope the 2011 RWC gets picked up somewhere.

  67. Brett

    January 5, 2010 at 8:36 am

    With Fox and ESPN being serious competitors I do not expect to see any additional EPL matches on ESPN. A lot of people would probably ask themselves, “Why pay for FSC when I get several Premier League matches on a network I already have and in better quality?”

    I don’t think FSI ever thought of Setanta as a threat to their business and were more willing to sublisence matches to them.

  68. Fletch Spigner

    January 5, 2010 at 8:17 am

    I posted on the earlier article about how I thought this whole thing was positive. Obviously, if we lose matches in the US, that is a negative. However–and I’m just going to say it–I really don’t care if we get access to EVERY match EVERY weekend. I know this matters to some people and that is certainly to be respected, but I am not going to lose sleep over missing the Bolton v Wolves match on some random Saturday (no offense to fans of those teams). I do enjoy the ability to pick and choose my matches but if we lose one or two fringe games here and there, I’m really fine with it. BUT…

    I will be more than upset, however, if I am charged (a la pay per view) to watch the matches I want to watch. Setanta has bad signal, costs too much, and is just not on the same level as FSC or even GolTV. Do we really think that FSC would be so stupid as to acquire Setanta and then piss off all of it’s own subscribers by not giving them access to those matches? I’m serious, would they?

    I hope not. But the answer may be yes because, if Setanta has only about 65,000 subscribers, then they are not exactly pulling in huge business. So, dumping those folks would piss them off but mught also make good business sense. I, of course, would be pissed off BUT…

    Look at the developments we’ve had/are having this year: Live ESPN2 HD Premier League, FSC is coming in HD very soon, 2010 is a World Cup year (also on ESPN), and not to mention Spanish soccer on ESPN as well. My last question is this: With all these developments, does it make sense that Fox would decrease the amount of soccer programming in America? Wouldn’t it also make sense for them to offer even more soccer in more places? Just my thoughts!

    • man99utd

      January 5, 2010 at 9:32 am

      “2010 is a World Cup year (also on ESPN)


      • Fletch Spigner

        January 5, 2010 at 10:29 am

        Exactly what I’m saying! Soccer coverage in America is on an upward trend. Surely Fox will capitalize on this by offering the maximum amount of matches across the channel spectrum. Thanks for the link!

  69. jilld

    January 5, 2010 at 8:01 am

    Great job covering this guys — it seems pretty fluid situation. But one concrete piece of good news would now be if Fox go out and make Paul Dempsey an offer he can’t refuse to come to the States and front the coverage — they need him badly. He’s half way here already — having moved from Sky in the UK to Dublin for Setanta’s Irish channels ha ha

  70. Marc

    January 5, 2010 at 7:52 am

    This is why I love this site. The Gaffer’s reporting is spot on.

  71. Jesse

    January 5, 2010 at 7:38 am

    I have a feeling it’s going to be a massive year for FSC in the States.

  72. CFTV

    January 5, 2010 at 7:26 am

    I took a survey recently by Fox Sports asking me what name I would choose among 6 to 8 choices if Fox Soccer Channel were to roll out a new soccer network. It seems to me that Fox already had the ball rolling about starting a second network which will be made easier by being able to pick and choose which Setanta programming they want to keep. With Shane O’Rourke doing his thing with his new venture I could see the big rugby, cricket, and Gaelic matches that Setanta was airing could go to Shane’s new project.

    I am a Brighthouse/TWC customer. I wonder if in the new deal that Fox and those 2 cable carriers just signed this week if we will be getting Fox Soccer HD when it rolls out as well as a possible 2nd Fox Soccer Channel.

    I really wonder how many people subscribed to Setanta in North America. The channel wasn’t distributed to every cable company and it wasn’t priced to move.

    • The Gaffer

      January 5, 2010 at 7:39 am

      CFTV, lets hope you’re right. As for distribution numbers for Setanta, I believe it was around 65,000 customers.

      The Gaffer

      • Dave

        January 5, 2010 at 8:30 am

        65,000? That’s all? If that’s the case, Setanta took the wrong tack. Last I checked, FSC gets about $0.06/month per subscriber from the carriers and reaches into about 30M homes.

        65,000 * $15 = $975,000 a month
        30M * $0.06 = $1.8M a month

        Maybe Setanta would have been better off not charging so much and instead trying to get its channel into as many homes as possible.

        • Jason

          January 5, 2010 at 9:51 pm

          Fox has the advantage of pretty much forcing providers to carry Fox Soccer because of its other channels. It’s all about packaging channels together. Setanta didn’t have that built-in advantage.


    January 5, 2010 at 6:49 am

    FYI…the Fulham-Stoke and Arsenal-Bolton games have been added back to Setanta’s online schedule and will be shown on delay at 5pm EST, which has always been shown on DirecTV’s guide. The fact that they added them back into their online schedule shows some glimmer of hope that Fox is letting Setanta show the games so that viewers don’t miss any action. Though it’s kind of interesting that FSC has reruns at both 3pm and 5pm EST.

    Not sure what it means other than the games should be shown on TV in the States; I’ll let anyone pick apart what this could potentially mean after I post.

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