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FOX vs NBC’s Soccer Battle

Soccer on television in the United States will become a whole lot more interesting in the next 12 months. Beginning two weeks from now, FOX Broadcasting Company, better known as FOX, will televise the first Premier League game on national television. While the game itself will only be a tape delay broadcast, it represents a historic and seismic shift in how the sport that “no one watches” has entered the lives of mainstream USA.

The September 18th tape-delay game between Manchester United and Chelsea will air on a Sunday afternoon before or after NFL programming. If you had to pick an ideal spot to showcase the English Premier League, this is it. While the vast majority of sports fans couldn’t care less about the sport of soccer, the size of the NFL TV viewing audience is so gigantic that even if a small portion of viewers tune into the game from Old Trafford either out of curiosity or interest, this will represent a significant TV ratings number.

Among the diehard soccer fans in the United States, the Premier League is an institution. TV ratings on FOX Soccer and ESPN2 continue to soar year-over-year. Mention an EPL game in conversation with friends or strangers, and you’re more likely to get someone saying something inteligible than the bizarre looks or silence that greeted you a decade ago. While the Premier League has certainly not arrived in the United States, the growth of the league in America can not be underestimated especially after you consider the successful pre-season tours that clubs like Manchester United and Manchester City had this past summer.

While the vast majority of soccer fans in the United States who are interested in quality will watch the live broadcast of United against Chelsea earlier in the morning on FOX Soccer, having the game shown on nationwide television would have been inconceivable a few years ago. After successful World Cup broadcasts by ESPN plus the Champions League Final being shown on FOX earlier this year, the networks have shown sponsors that not only is there a rising interest in the sport, but that the games attract a sizable and impressionable audience of men, aged 18-35.

FOX and ESPN are not the only ones who have paid attention to the soaring TV ratings. NBC recently signed a deal with MLS to begin showing live telecasts beginning with the 2012 season. While the majority of games will be shown on Versus, soon to be rebranded as NBC Sports Network, NBC — the national TV network — will broadcast two regular season MLS games, two playoff games and two games featuring the US men’s national team. In addition to FOX’s tape delay broadcast of Man United against Chelsea, FOX will show the return fixture of Chelsea against Man United live on Super Bowl Sunday as well as October 2011’s tape delay match between Spurs and Arsenal, and November’s tape delay broadcast of Chelsea against Liverpool.

Collectively, NBC and FOX will make a significant impact on the number of Americans who’ll watch soccer on free-to-air television in the next 12 months. But while soccer fans and sports fans both win, you have to consider that there are two battles going on at the same time. The first is FOX against NBC, both of whom are competing for TV ratings. But the second battle is MLS against EPL. Personally, I think there’s enough room in most people’s lives for soccer viewing on NBC and FOX, as well as MLS and EPL, but in love and war, there are always winners and losers. And it’ll be especially interesting to see how the TV ratings between the Premier League and MLS compare.

FOX’s Premier League coverage will have a head-start over NBC. Recently acquired by Comcast, NBC’s live coverage won’t begin until as early as March. By that point, FOX and the Premier League will have shown three tape-delayed matches and one live game. And based on the TV ratings for those broadcasts, you have to wonder what’s next for the Premier League on US television? Could more games be broadcast live on FOX? We’ll have to wait and see what the TV ratings are before jumping ahead of ourselves.

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  1. denton k randall

    October 2, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Soccers sucks is boreing I’m tare of people goverment force us to watch it. So I want watck fox no more and nfl
    So the wil go under

    • The Gaffer

      October 2, 2011 at 8:20 pm

      Say no more. Your words perfectly sum up the IQ of the non-soccer audience.

      The Gaffer

    • Thunder

      October 13, 2011 at 1:15 pm

      Wow! Do you even have a primary school education?

  2. Mark Stevens

    September 29, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    That United vs Chelsea game was the highest rated Prem League game ever broadcast on the US… so there’s that.

  3. MrTuktoyaktuk

    September 19, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    Apparently the overnight rating for OTA Fox broadcast was 1.2. Not sure if that was 18-49 or Households. I would call that a modest success. Fox Soccer got 0.4 for live broadcast. So together, if it in fact was HH, that works out to 1.85 million households or just over 3 x the highest rating for EPL on Fox Soccer from last year.

  4. theblackbra

    September 18, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    I never thought I’d see the day where several decent options for NFC NFL games aren’t being shown on Fox in order for them to show a rerun of The New Adventures of Old Christine, an old episode of The Office, and then a taped soccer game from the UK. Green Bay vs Carolina. Chicago vs New Orleans. No, they aren’t showing the defending Super Bowl champions going up against the #1 Draft pick from this year. They aren’t showing one of the league’s best defenses against one of the league’s best offenses. Instead, I get reruns. At noon. In America. In September. Week Two of the NFL season.

    I don’t think we’re grasping what this means. This is terrible. I don’t even understand why soccer fans would like this. This is a taped game. This already happened. If you like soccer, you’ve already watched this game. You already know who won.
    The reason we’re watching FOX at noon is to see the NFL. Everyone knows that’s what is on FOX at this time of day during this time of year. It’s what we American football fans look forward to. Instead, we get slapped in the face, and, frankly, insulted. Not only do we not get to watch our noon/1PM game, but we have to watch pre-recorded soccer.
    I don’t mind soccer. I’ve played the game, and have injured myself doing so, therefore, I’ve sacrificed part of my body to the game. I love watching international play when the US is involved, and the World Cup is incredible. However, a taped game from UK league play? Preceded by two television shows? At noon, on Fox, in September? Are you kidding me? People would be literally killed for doing this in the soccer world. If the big soccer network decided that instead of showing a Week Two matchup, they’d show two re-runs of a tv show, then air a TAPED NFL game. Heads would roll. Blood would run in the gutters in the UK. The world would not be the same afterward.

    However, we football fans here in America (sorry, American football fans) are FORCED to watch this nonsense. I have the Fox Soccer network. Why can’t I watch the game there? Why on Earth would anyone deem it responsible to air this garbage (this taped nonsense) on my NFL channel? I’m totally cool with FOX decided which NFL game I must watch. I’m a Packers fan, but I can totally dig getting screwed and having to watch New Orleans, as it is the closer game to me geographically. I also have several players from that team on m y fantasy team, so it’s all good. Basically, it’s pro American Football on a Sunday afternoon. So, I’ll take it.

    Instead, FOX isn’t being watched today by me, and, I promise, American Football fans aren’t watching that channel now either. Try doing this crap during NBA season, or even when it’s baseball season. It might go over better then. But do not (DO NOT) mess with our NFL season. It is a RELIGION to some, just as soccer is to some of you guys. I respect that, and wouldn’t dare put on an NFL game during one of your games. It’s all about having a good time. This is a good time for no one. No one wins. NFL fans are going to be angry and ignore this (and probably dislike soccer because of it, actually… trust me), and soccer fans aren’t going to care because this game has already been played.

    So, what good does this do??? I’m struggling to find logic behind this movie. Had the soccer game been LIVE, I could sort of understand, and I might even check it out. I’ll occasionally watch MLS games. But I have that option. I can watch them on other channels.

    Argh. I’m done. Rant over. I simply can’t understand moves like this. Fortunately, I’m able to find the games that AREN’T being shown on FOX on Justintv or other streams.

    America… this is how you know we’re going down the drain with the sewage. Something as simple and AMERICAN as the NFL is ignored. BY FOX NEVERTHELESS!!!

    I just don’t have any more words.

  5. BA14

    September 13, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    Also, The Albany, NY fox affiliate will have no replay of the game, just movie and 2 paid commercial programs.

  6. BA14

    September 13, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    As I expected, no replay of the Manchester United/Chelsea match because the local market (Green Bay, WI) will be airing their post game coverage of the Packer game.

  7. tlas

    September 6, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    There may be an even more interesting battle brewing, perhaps more
    so than Fox v. NBC and that is Comcast (NBC) vs Disney (ESPN). Fox
    will continue to showcase association football from foreign
    locations because of News Corp’s reach. However – and I was among
    the doubter when speculation first surfaced – Comcast has decided
    to dip its toes deeper into the sport beyond the various SportsNets
    showing local MLS now to the national MLS. OK, so it’s MLS and not
    “proper footy” as some here believe. But it’s still noteworthy that
    they have gone deeper into it. Furthermore, I have a feeling that
    the folks like Mark Lazarus and Jon Miller think that there is an
    opening to poach an even bigger property in the form of the FIFA
    World Cup itself, which is available after 2014 (and after 2015 for
    its female counterpart). In any case, we have three years to
    evaluate NBC’s performance after reentering the general soccer
    market (last time, they aired the WC Final in 1986). Three years is
    enough time for them to put together some sort of infrastructure
    necessary to showcase a major international event (they also have
    rights for certain USMNT matches as part of their deal). With their
    experience with the Olympic Games, they should not have too much
    trouble translating that to the World Cup. Of course, there are too
    many variables that have to be taken into consideration when
    talking about these things. In the end, I don’t know how NBC would
    trump the infrastructure of ESPN and Univision but stranger things
    have happened.

  8. MG

    September 5, 2011 at 8:21 am

    Premier League, delayed or not, on NBC!? That’s definitely an absolute plus, especially if it airs AFTER the NFL game.

    There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this new.
    And expansion of MLS tv coverage is a plus as well, regardless of what many of you think about it (exaggeratedly negative points of view, to be perfectly honest)..

  9. Gianlucca

    September 5, 2011 at 5:59 am

    I am completely uninterested in the showing of tape delay games.
    There is so much footy on the box these days, no need for tape delay.
    Half the time, even its my own team I know the result beforehand and will only waych if the result went my way.

    As for who shows the games, which channel etc..
    I couldnt give a toss.
    Just give me games on TV with many choices and I dont care which channel or how many other people are watching.

    • gargoyle

      September 5, 2011 at 7:46 am

      I think the whole point of this from the network’s perspective is to find a time slot that exposes as many people as possible to the best of what the EPL has to offer in the hope that some of these folks will seek out future live matches. A lot of the people who will watch the taped ManU/Chel match probably won”t even realize they had access to the live match earlier in the day.

      Given the crowded sports landscape here and the time difference I have my doubts about how “big” the EPL could really get here in the US but who really cares? We like it and the fact that the networks are taking notice can’t be a bad thing. Myself, I started watching EPL on the old Fox Sports World on Sundays when it dawned on me what an overblown, overhyped and boring spectacle to NFL had become.

      • MG

        September 5, 2011 at 8:33 am

        Considering that the Premier League was generally only watched by ex-pats and the very very few hardcore soccer fans in the 1990’s, it is already ‘big’ in the sense that it is now, more than any other time (especially post 2010 World Cup), watched by a significantly larger amount of people, myself included.

        I don’t think the point is entirely to make it ‘big’, anyway. It will never be as big as it is in England, where it is institutionalized and pure tradition, but it will continue to get bigger now that it has finally, truly, caught on. And that’s the main point, with games shown on national television (for the first time, no less) it can only help the cause, not harm it.

        Which is why I always find it hilarious when people still find something to complain about.. I’m noticing that’s a trait in a lot of EPLTalk readers haha. But ah well.

  10. Mike Perez

    September 5, 2011 at 3:41 am

    i may be jumping the gun but i wish Fox would show more live EPL games but ill let process work out

  11. Elliott

    September 4, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    I think the casual US soccer fan will tune into the MLS playoffs and also EPL games between the big four. Even a few years ago, I was able to find the MLS Cup on TV in a pretty anglo bar in Kansas City , KS, which would have been unheard of a decade ago.

    • vardaman

      September 4, 2011 at 9:30 pm

      Though highly likely 30 years ago. Soccer’s been around in the US since the 70’s many of us remember when it was a pretty big deal. Do you see mini vans with magnetic baseballs attached to them? No, soccer is replacing baseball and so an entire generation will have grown up with it soon. Soccer is here to stay in the U.S.

      • Matthew

        September 4, 2011 at 9:44 pm

        What do you base this evidence on? What are your sources and facts?

        • Kejsare

          September 5, 2011 at 1:24 am

          Check out the demographics for who watches what.

          Soccer has the youngest segment, golf the oldest, followed by baseball. Baseball’s crowd is older than the average sports viewer.

  12. JW

    September 4, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    NBC should broadcast MLS counter-programming against the four-plus hour snoozefests that will be the MLB Playoffs on Fox. At least I’d be watching…

    • Morgan Wick

      September 4, 2011 at 7:11 pm

      1. NBC doesn’t have MLS this year.

      2. Fox only shows one League Championship Series and the World Series each year.

      3. Those games are almost always in primetime, and NBC would be crazy to put up sub-.5 MLS games, even MLS playoff games, in primetime. Versus/NBCSN I might see doing that, though, but the fact is that baseball is popular enough that MLS might balk.

      4. How interested are you in baseball, anyway? If the answer is “not much”, I’m sure there’s plenty of other programming you can put on.

  13. gargoyle

    September 4, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    In my opinion the “historic and seismic” shift occurred 2 years ago when ESPN started showing live matches.

  14. Matthew

    September 4, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    Whether or not MLS will do better under NBC is unknown. I don’t they have done all that great with the mainstream sports but this could work for them. I find it interesting that people are so fired up in saying soccer is the most popular sport in the world, ok. However, the US isn’t the rest of the world. I really think people are completely missing the point when it comes to soccer in the United States. I think most of you haven’t thought hard enough as to why the sport is as popular in this country. The reason or lack of interest has to do more with America itself. It’s not about America thinking they are better than anyone else it is about being different from the rest of the world. You want to understand the American people and nation you need to understand the history and culture of the nation from the very beginning. From the very beginning America wanted to create something different from the Old World a new beginning. Americans weren’t going to follow the same path as Europe; America was something new and special. They wanted to create an “American Way” in what they did in life. Look no further than our sports, the American pastime, and baseball. How many nations really play baseball that seriously? American football (NFL) a very American sport, where else is this style of football played, not many places. Look at the NBA, yes other countries have leagues but nowhere as successful or popular as basketball played in the United States. That is the idea these are American sports and not world sports. This all goes back to the foundation of the nation to create something so special and different from anywhere else in the world. Don’t forget about the massive interest in college sports as well. When Americans achieve or create something they as the American way of doing it, we see ourselves so different from the rest of the world. Where do you think they learned that feeling? If you understand American history and what it means to be part of this American experiment then I think you will find an answer to your question.

    • Morgan Wick

      September 4, 2011 at 7:07 pm

      There’s a growing realization that sometimes Americans will avoid doing what’s best out of a misguided desire to be “different” from people who presumably have reasons to do what they do.

      That’s intended to be a political statement more than a sports one, but there’s a growing admiration of Europe in the US, whether it’s hardcores in the Democratic Party or EPL fans.

      • Matthew

        September 4, 2011 at 8:47 pm

        I am sorry but you have missed point in what I was saying. You need to understand the history and culture of this nation. You need to understand when the American colonies were declaring their independence from Great Britain they were making a very important statement, in that they were creating something completely different than what the world has ever seen. It has nothing about their desire to be different, which is the history of this nation. We are different because of that, just look at our history. It is no wonder that the development of sports would reflect that story. You tell a nation on earth in the last 200 years where more people have immigrant to in the search for something new and different. Everything about America is about a break from the old and creating something new and different and if you don’t understand that you don’t understand the American experiment.

        • vardaman

          September 4, 2011 at 9:23 pm

          You are an idiot…the United States played in the first World Cup and finished 3rd!

          • Matthew

            September 4, 2011 at 9:43 pm

            Name calling will get you no where.

          • Matthew

            September 4, 2011 at 9:49 pm

            Your looking at 1930 and weren’t most of the players foreign born as well.

    • Robin

      September 5, 2011 at 2:03 pm

      Well to be honest didnt our founding fathers and a few others after them play cricket as there main sport. I think I remember reading this somewhere. Maybe George Washington’s War or some other book but ya sports like cricket were the first sports played here by the people that founded this land so I fail to see how they wanted everything to be 100% different if they followed a then European sport and now today mainly an Indian sport.

  15. Sgc

    September 4, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Tape delay might be risky in this day and age. One risk is as mentioned, that the people who really care will have already seen the game our at least know they score. Another is that affiliates might pre-empt the broadcasts a lot.

    • Jeff

      September 4, 2011 at 4:46 pm

      Well hopefully with regards to the tape delay games they won’t really be looking for ratings and will really be focusing on bringing new viewers to the game. For me, I’ll be watching the games live and may re-watch on Fox if I’m around.

  16. jose

    September 4, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    i understand that ratings is the bottom line but even though i love the epl at the same time it’s killing the growth of the mls. fox is smart to have the epl and nbc is gambling with the mls. i could enjoy an epl game as much as an mls game but unfortunately a lot of people can’t and that’s the problem. americans who don’t support the mls and only the epl don’t know that it will eventually effect the national team if the league doesn’t grow..we need you at the games and watching them on t.v.

    • Morgan Wick

      September 4, 2011 at 7:04 pm

      MLS’ growth has been sluggish from the beginning. What the national team needs is interest in any kind of soccer at all to encourage people to take up and keep soccer. I don’t understand why that interest HAS to be in MLS specifically.

      • jose

        September 4, 2011 at 10:45 pm

        it has to be mls…because if we are like canada then we will not survive and our league will cease to exist and eventually hurting our national team.

  17. Sgc

    September 4, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    One problem I foresee is that soccer is an uncomfortable fit with FOX’s prior brand strategy in the US market. They’ve tended to like the over-the-top presentation, flag-waving Americanism, etc. Doesn’t dovetail that well with soccer, especially EPL soccer, which is self-consciously foreign, and where most FOX-style ‘improvements’ just get in the way, because the fans themselves are such a part of the show.

  18. Guy

    September 4, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    I will be interested to see the ratings. Right now I’m a non-believer. Soccer will always be limited in generating revenue (and that’s what it’s all about) by its lack of commercial breaks. We fans love it, but the networks don’t. Without that opportunity it is hard for me to see how soccer, on any level, can become a mainstream network sport in the U.S.

    • cnl. onions

      September 4, 2011 at 4:15 pm

      I see why that is a daunting challenge for American cable, but how the hell has Europe been so successful with it and why is the Television revenue so massive over there? The Sky situation is unclear to me…do people in England(as just one European example) need to dole out a decent chunk of $ to get sky and the majority of the games on tv?

      I suppose the time difference is the major problem for the EPL making serious $ over here, but American soccer is a different story. I’ve been sports deprived for the majority of the summer as I’ve lost passion in baseball and there are no alternatives(besides the Copa America this summer) and I am ready to give my 18-30 male demographic self to some sports programming haha. And MLS in standard definition on Fox Soccer isn’t good enough.

      • Morgan Wick

        September 4, 2011 at 7:00 pm

        The most popular broadcaster in Europe is the commercial-free BBC.

        Money doesn’t matter as much for European networks.

        • vardaman

          September 4, 2011 at 9:18 pm

          The BBC is supported by a television tax! They don’t have to advertise, geez dude, get a clue…

          • oliver

            September 4, 2011 at 9:54 pm

            *mandatory* television tax too – whether you watch the BBC or not. If you have a TV, you have to pay it

      • GrumpyEnglishman

        September 5, 2011 at 12:42 am

        “do people in England(as just one European example) need to dole out a decent chunk of $ to get sky and the majority of the games on tv?”

        It can be very expensive. The cost of all Sky Sports channels plus ESPN and basic TV package is £58 pm. You can get it for less if you shop around or cherry-pick the channels you want. I don’t have it because firstly, I can’t afford it and secondly, I have no desire to give Mr Murdoch any of my money.

        • MUFC77

          September 5, 2011 at 1:23 am

          58 quid a month for sky TV that is bloody expensive. do they show any premier league games on the BBC anymore or is it just Match of the Day highlights on sat nights?

          • GrumpyEnglishman

            September 5, 2011 at 3:06 am

            MOTD and MOTD2 are broadcast on Saturday and Sunday nights respectively. The BBC has never shown Live EPL games. They used to show the occasional live game before the EPL was born. (The First Division pre ’92).
            They still broadcast live cup games and live Football League games.

      • Pete

        September 5, 2011 at 9:31 am

        In England you get about 10 channels free, for a long time it was 5 channels. BBC1 BBC2 ITV, channel 4 and channel 5. That was it. Then Sky came along and moved England on from the 1940’s
        I have the full Sky pack and it cost me £60+ £10 for HD.
        Sports (5 channels)
        Movies (10 channels)
        Discovery stuff (10 channels)
        News (8 channels inc your CNN and fox news
        Kids stuff (cartoons) 10 channels
        Music (15 channels)
        Entertainment 30 channels)
        plus a load of other junk no one watches
        Basically a few hundred channels, it is expensive but you can pick and choose what you want to make it cheaper. If you choose to have sports and movies though, you may as well get the rest because those two cost all the money

        BBC isn’t free, we have to pay a tv license which basically covers the cost of 2 BBC TV channels and a BBC radio channel as they don’t have adverts. It’s over £100 a year and is a rip off, I don’t even watch the BBC apart from MOTD for an hour once a week. Big protest coming soon about the BBC and TV license, mark my words

        • GrumpyEnglishman

          September 5, 2011 at 12:08 pm


          If all you want is sport and movies then the BBC isn’t for you but to call it a rip-off is nonsense, especially from someone who pays £70 pm for their telly. You neglected to mention BBC 3 and the unrivalled BBC 4 which are available on Freeview.

          I agree that the Beeb should and perhaps could have made a stronger bid to show some live EPL.

          The only people who seem to have an axe to grind with the BBC are their commercial rivals, people who think it has a left wing agenda because it isn’t as right wing as them, and dogmatic politicians who don’t see any value in non profit organisations.

          Sorry for the off topic rant but I love the BBC.

          • Pete

            September 5, 2011 at 1:02 pm

            The £70 I pay for sky is a choice, the £100+ I pay for the BBC isn’t. That is the difference and that is why I have a problem.
            I shouldn’t have to pay for anything I don’t watch. If the BBC wanted to they could have their channels on pay for use basis and therefore people could get the choice of whether they wanted to watch them.
            Most people in the UK have the choice of over 100 TV channels now . Why should we pay a TV license for 2 BBC TV channels?
            And as for BBC3 and BBC4. They have only been out a few years, The TV license has been in place for decades. Plus whether it’s 2 or 4 channels, I should pay for what I choose to watch it shouldn’t be against the law not to pay it.

          • Pete

            September 5, 2011 at 1:27 pm

            I invite everyone to sign the e petition so the BBC can sink or swim on advert money like every other TV channel has to do.


          • Aaron

            September 5, 2011 at 1:48 pm

            Hell, I’m watching a Top Gear marathon on BBC right now from America because of your taxes. Thanks! 🙂

          • Pete

            September 5, 2011 at 1:57 pm

            Enjoy it while you can Aaron, the BBC will soon be using adverts and you might find BBC america has a blank screen with pay $5 to watch. 🙂

          • Guy

            September 5, 2011 at 4:32 pm

            BBC America is not really “the beeb”. I is a wholly owned commercial subsidiary of the BBC and not subject to funding from the UK license fee…which is why it has ads. It is distributed in the U.S. by the parent company of The Discovery Channel.

          • Aaron

            September 5, 2011 at 4:51 pm

            Obviously, BBCA is not the actual BBC and has commercials to generate revenue. Still, the programming is created by the BBC which, in turn, is funded by British taxes. Thus, my thanks.

  19. Sacto Blues

    September 4, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    This is a far cry from the mid to late 90’s when ESPN would have a Champions League match on every so often. I just hope that Comcast / Xfinity finally offers FSC plus or FSC HD to the public.

  20. Badger

    September 4, 2011 at 11:55 am

    More important than that ,what’s happened to MyP2P?

    • reidscott

      September 4, 2011 at 12:16 pm

      yeah…wtf? Anyone know where there is any free live streaming now? I get Fox Soccer…but it is a joke really and only does a few games…

    • ThompsonLives

      September 4, 2011 at 12:58 pm

      It’s still around.

      • psyer

        September 4, 2011 at 1:38 pm

        That is a fake copy site that is out for profit.

  21. Sam

    September 4, 2011 at 11:49 am

    Both Fox and NBC will benefit from their broadcasts of soccer to mainstream viewers. That will be a very good thing for the sport in this country. These are small steps being taken but in time they could pay dividends.

    • DanB

      September 4, 2011 at 1:16 pm

      I am excited about both and hope it creates A Stronger audience for MLS and Soccer in general.

  22. Stephen Lucey

    September 4, 2011 at 11:16 am

    As I tweeted earlier, I am really looking forward to NFL on FOX crew talking about English soccer while gritting their teeth and fighting back aneurisms. Think about Terry Bradshaw, Jimmy Johnson, Howie Long, all being told by producers they need to plug FOX’s soccer broadcasts, and they’re not allowed to crack jokes, and they’re not allowed to be sexist or homophobic. The real question is, who will be the first Andy Gray-level firing this season?

  23. JJ

    September 4, 2011 at 11:06 am

    2 hours, no commercials. that beats the NFL, 3 hours, a hundred commercials.
    this is the biggest factor of all. i watch less NFL than i used to because it’s become labourious.

    • Jeff

      September 4, 2011 at 11:37 am

      I’ve been saying this for years. I’d rather watch a 2 hours soccer match with no commercials than a 3 hour NFL game with a hundred commercials. The NFL is just ridiculous. And besides for my hometeam the Eagles I never watch one other game. It’s pretty much unwatchable at times with all the commercials and downtime.

      • Guy

        September 4, 2011 at 2:27 pm

        I do not disagree with you, but you have both pointed out the main reason U.S. TV networks don’t like soccer…..lack of commercial opportunities.

        • Sgc

          September 4, 2011 at 3:22 pm

          I’m not sure if that’s true or not. ESPN has been paying a lot for WC broadcasts for a while now, and they seem to make money without a ton of breaks.

          Also, to the extent lack of breaks is a problem, we should think how that might be changing in the DVR era. Perhaps soccer’s in-game advertising is becoming all the more valuable because you can’t fast forward through it.

  24. Rich

    September 4, 2011 at 10:22 am

    “While the vast majority of sports fans couldn’t care less about the sport of soccer”

    An incorrect statement, for the rest of the world besides North America Futball (Soccer) is the number one sport. Only in the USA is it beginning to surface to the top.

    • The Gaffer

      September 4, 2011 at 10:30 am

      Rich, correct. That’s what I meant. I wrote it from an American perspective for an American audience.

      The Gaffer

    • Aaron

      September 4, 2011 at 11:35 am

      “for the rest of the world besides North America Futball (Soccer) is the number one sport”

      This is an exaggeration. I love footy and it’s the most popular sport in the world but North America(Mexico excluded) isn’t the only place where football isn’t #1. Australia’s is Aussie rules football. Many countries in Asia enjoy cricket as their fav sport. China/basketball and Japan/baseball are other examples.
      Europe, South America, and Africa(SAF/rugby exception) for the most part are football crazy.
      Point being that US/Canada aren’t the only black sheep in the world.

      • Patrick

        September 4, 2011 at 12:46 pm

        Well made point Aaron, Like you I love football, but as you said it would be a mistake to think that the game is number one in all other countries around the world outside of US/Canada. I would also argue that in Ireland, the GAA sports, hurling and Gaelic football are just as popular if not more so than football/soccer.

  25. Nelson

    September 4, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Glad to hear it. Soccer in the US has gained enough followers hip t obreak out of the niche. These are small steps in the right direction. Why it’s taken so long I dont understand. People in my area are much more familiar and interested in soccer than Tennis and Bowling, yet those are often on network television. Besides, literally every child in this country begins with soccer and then we lose them to other sports. Not because their more fun but because the culture values other sports higher. If professional soccer is seen and heard un our living rooms on a consistent basis maybe our youth will more likely grow up with the sport. We have a little snowball in this country all we need now is a longer hill and soccer will gain momentum. In contrast other sports have peaked out. Soccer has a long way to go but it is on the rise for sure.

  26. Nelson

    September 4, 2011 at 9:47 am

    Finally US networks have started to see the vast potential in soccer. This is a segment relatively “untapped” and they are realizing that there is plenty of $ to be had. Most sports in the US have maxed out, IMO. I would even suggest that interest has regressed. People just don’t seem as excited about their sports anymore. College sports have replaced NFL and NBA for sure. Also there is no “cool” factor anymore with the younger fans and the sport their dads and grandfathers watch. The EPL epitomizes that. Every young kid in the US starts out playing soccer in their early years. It’s only parents and their lack of interest in the sport (because there is no professional mainstream presence) that kills their children’s love for the game. If professional soccer and new heroes in the sport eventually enter the livingroom on a consistent basis we could see a big shift in American viewership and talent. EPL and MLS broadcasts on the major networks is the beginning of the shift IMO.

    • Jeff

      September 4, 2011 at 11:33 am

      Well said and completely agree.

    • RBP

      September 4, 2011 at 11:31 pm

      I largely agree with what you say, but you couldn’t be more off about college surpassing the professional leagues.. it’s not even a contest. But you’re otherwise spot on.

  27. CanUK

    September 4, 2011 at 9:36 am

    As one Limey to another, I agree with the MLS statement. The problem the US networks have is the lack of commercial time in real ‘Football’.

  28. Clair

    September 4, 2011 at 9:34 am

    Jeff – The reason Comcast & FOX can never come to an agreement is all down to money & interest in the local markets.

    Comcast does carry FOX Soccer in some markets, but that markets are all very few & in between. Of course… one of those markets not carrying it is my local market & been extremly vocal about it.

    • Jeff

      September 4, 2011 at 9:41 am

      I realize that but they have now come to an agreement and have started adding it to local markets. But why not a nationwide rollout like every other cable/satelite provider? I think because Comcast now owns NBC they don’t what to give their competitor in Fox an advantage. NBC/Comcast knows the soccer TV audiance in America is growing and they want their piece of the pie. Holding Fox back from being in HD is a way have hurting their competitor. This has got to be the reason. It’s not bandwidth issues and it’s not about an agreement.

      • Guy

        September 4, 2011 at 2:15 pm

        TimeWarner is not nation-wide with FS HD. It is a local market decision.

  29. SoccerLimey

    September 4, 2011 at 9:25 am

    The absolute worst thing NBC could do is to show live MLS games. Talk about driving your audience away. Non-soccer fans will be gone from those broadcasts in no time at all.

    • Joe

      September 4, 2011 at 10:18 am

      You’re a total Dbag and Eurosnob to the core. As always you attack MLS as soon as you read something about MLS on TV. Please just go away.

    • trickybrkn

      September 4, 2011 at 10:37 am

      What are you talking about. In Philadelphia every game is broadcast. Some on ABC 6 in prime time. And the fact is that the Union have a very loyal fan base. Now I don’t don’t have ratings numbers, but there is heavy cross promotion for Union matches on Chn 6 news. It goes as far as the weather forecast has a Union logo for match days.

      MLS may not be top quality, but it has a very loyal and young fan base.

      • CanUK

        September 4, 2011 at 11:43 am

        ‘MLS may not be top quality, but it has a very loyal and young fan base.’

        And with names like Beckham, Henry, Angel, Donovan you would expect some quality. Sadly not. (Not a Eurosnob but a realist)

        • DanB

          September 4, 2011 at 1:11 pm

          No your just someone who has no National Pride. If American Soccer is going to grow you best learn to support it. Its okay to follow leagues over seas or south of the USA as long as you support your Local teams and leagues. They may not be perfect but at least it is ours. Otherwise your just a eurosnob and a poser.

          • gargoyle

            September 4, 2011 at 4:31 pm

            Oh for God’s sake cut the patriotic crap. I’ll never watch MLS because it is and always will be a minor league. It’s got nothing to do with pride in country. And isn’t this site called EPL talk not MLS talk?

            The argument about the ratings or support for Union matches in Philly is irelevant. That’s a local phenomenon that doesn’t translate to a national audience. A taped delayed EPL match featuring ManU and Chelsea will draw higher ratings athan any live MLS match.

          • Alan Knut

            September 4, 2011 at 5:11 pm

            Agreed! Too much nationalistic pride in MLS fans. I just love to watch great soccer, MLS is absolutely awful to watch.

          • Sgc

            September 4, 2011 at 5:22 pm

            Then police your own, gargoyle. Anybody can look at this sub-thread and see that MLS came up as the target of a pointless cheap shot.

          • Morgan Wick

            September 4, 2011 at 6:56 pm

            MLS’ model should be the leagues in South America.

            How popular are those compared to the European leagues?

          • Gaz Hunt

            September 5, 2011 at 1:49 am


            Football is intertwined with regional pride. That’s what makes the fans passionate. You support a club because they represent you or you have a personal investment in them – it doesn’t matter what the quality is.

            I’m making a presumption here but I’m guessing you’d still support Manchester United even if they dropped divisions and couldn’t pay crazy money for players anymore, right?

  30. Jeff

    September 4, 2011 at 9:16 am

    Gaffer, do you think this may be the reason Comcast is holding back on adding Fox Soccer in HD in all their markets? Seems to be the only logical explanation.

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