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FOX’s Coverage of Premier League Brings Soccer to a Whole New Audience

Monday morning, the day we all tend to dread. Roll out of bed, put on your threads and head off to either work or school to put in your “eight hours.”

For Americans like myself, one of the first talking points on Monday morning in your pursuit to clear the cobwebs tends to be sports. If it’s early autumn, it boils down to either the National Football League or Major League Baseball. It could be your favorite team, a horrible officiating decision, or which player completely screwed up your fantasy weekend. People tend to be energized at this time of year towards sports.

With a work PC that needs 10 cups of coffee to fully boot, I walked down to a friend’s office to engage in this Rite of Fall. He’s a Ravens fan, they won; I’m a Bills fan, we lost; referees are horrible; we conclude our typical flapping of gums about the NFL.

Then, he says something interesting: “I was watching the Tottenham/Arsenal match…”

My ears perk up. “You did?” Now, I know that this friend loves soccer. He played in high school, college, and in a county rec league until recently. He has coached his kids’ teams for years. In fact, he spent plenty of time trying to tell me about the greatness of soccer.

The issue: He lives in an area that does not have Fox Soccer Channel or GolTV, and Saturday and Sunday mornings aren’t the best for him anyway. But an EPL match piggybacking an NFL game on a Sunday afternoon? He watched the entire match.

“Man, Tottenham has this guy on the left that is a helluva player,” he says. I respond, “Oh, you mean Gareth Bale?” And the conversation continues for a few minutes, and I’m somewhere between jazzed and surprised that we’re talking about this.

We’ve talked association football many times – 95% of the time in terms of either of our kids’ teams, and the other 5% are high profile international matches on ESPN. For a guy who is on the go, he doesn’t make much time for following social media outlets that help keep many of us informed about matches. I’ve often brought up the EPL, but without a free avenue to watch, he has never been a participant in that conversation. He doesn’t want to spend extra for a few soccer matches a week, especially when he isn’t sure he’ll have time to watch them anyway.

That’s why the EPL on FOX is perfect for him. He was even amazed when I told him that the match was on tape-delay.

We have plenty of people in America who are similar to my friend (former youth players), and it’s bound to increase over time with improving development clubs in this country. Fall Sunday afternoons are times dedicated to sports in the United States. In my mind, there is no better time to try this experiment than right after an NFL contest, when people are “vegging out,” clinging to what little remains of the weekend before recommencing the routine.

Until the day when FOX Soccer shows up on 95+% of the cable systems in America, the EPL on FOX is a brilliant intermediate. It’s been an uphill battle for soccer in this country, but this creative approach to reach a different audience with the sport is worthy of applaud. Whether it’s a teaser for people to demand FOX Soccer, or if its simply trying to deliver product to a broader consumer base, kudos to FOX for giving European soccer a chance on network television.

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  1. broom_wagon

    November 2, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Some people really aren’t able to see the morning games and do wait to see the rebroadcasts not knowing the final scores.

  2. Q. Barnes

    October 22, 2011 at 6:29 am

    i love the epl, but once 1pm sunday rolls around im not going to watch a tape delyed match…just use the inter web and watch any nfl game you want screw the networks and greedy cable providers ive got them beat

  3. Steve O'Sullivan

    October 17, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Well if you and your pal often conclude that NFL has bad refereeing then you’re going to love the Premiership!

  4. lefthog

    October 3, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    It is just another stepping stone of soccer-growth in the US. The dumbing down will be phased out. It is just important that the ratings are high enough for the affiliates so that they extend (and hopefully expand) the coverage (so things like Tornado warnings do not get in the way anymore).
    Too bad that the EPL’s marquee time slot (Sun 4pm UK time) falls right into the NFL pregame shows. Or else they might actually show the games live.

  5. eplnfl

    October 3, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    Well of course I’m all for it. The Chicago Fox outlet showed the game after the Bears post game show at 4:30pm. I was disappointed in the efforts made by the Fox broadcast team. They had clearly talked it over and decided to dumb things down and example some basics to first time viewers. Also Vinnie Jones was just not prepared to be on the show. His comments where of no value and showed little insight.

    Even with all that the EPL on network television is only good for the sport and it’s growth in the US.

  6. Lou Poulain

    October 3, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    I was very pleased to see the game on our Fox affiliate. Since Comcast doesn’t have FSC in HD, it was nice to see a Fox HD telecast. I have to say that an EPL primer is NOT a bad idea, given the lack of awareness among non-soccer nuts. Spurs / Arsenal was a good one to show, as well. A very compelling match.

  7. MennoDaddy

    October 3, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    I’m a Spurs fan so I was of course thrilled that FOX showed this on the mother station, even on tape delay. However, I was pretty dismayed with the quality of the pre- and post-game coverage. Wynalda, Cobi, and Vinny Jones were pretty poor. It wasn’t as shambolic as the last nationally-televised EPL match (the Manchester derby) where they spent the entire pre-match giving an “EPL for Dummies” primer, but it wasn’t good and the mid-match commentary wasn’t enlightening at all.

    Also, I really do wish that FOX would dial up the crowd noise on its EPL telecasts a little. It sounded to me like the in-game commentators were piping in the feed from a studio somewhere and not from the stadium.


  8. DCUDiplomat96

    October 3, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    Its good that FOX is showing the games, tape delayed or not. you cant blame the affiliates if they dont show it, especially in larger markets with other prosports teams, well in a way you coule blame Fox because of timing of the whole thing. plus i doubt you have a large demand against coverage of a NFL team. also the game is taped delay so the priority is obvious

  9. SSReporters

    October 3, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    It’s hard to get excited when your Seattle affiliate literally shoves the match kickoff to 11 PM because of the Seahawks pregame show.

    And several other affiliates have done this, too.

    Got a long way to go but it’s not FOX national’s fault.

  10. David

    October 3, 2011 at 11:45 am

    Amen to that. While FSC is not available everywhere, FOX certainly is. Reaching the casual fan is the way that more people will be interested in soccer, especially on fall Sundays when watching sports is the default plan for a lot of Americans. I don’t think the fact that the matches are on tape delay matter very much. And for FOX, I am sure it represents a better use of 2 hours of time than the infomercials they usually have in the slot without an NFL game. I hope we see more and more of this.

  11. Ryan

    October 3, 2011 at 11:43 am

    I’m a die hard Detroit Lions supporter. Because the local Atlanta Falcons were playing at 4pm, I thought I might get to watch Detroit @ Dallas at 1PM. Unfortunately, I got a replay of the Arsenal/Spurs match (which I had already watched that morning.

    Guess it’s good for soccer here in the states, but I was disappointed.

    • David

      October 3, 2011 at 11:48 am

      Fox had only a singleheader this week (they trade off with CBS). Because you are in the Falcons’ market, that is the game you got. You would have had the Tottenham-Arsenal game or some lesser filler not worth watching.

    • Rovers

      October 3, 2011 at 11:56 am

      Here is a site that shows all the NFL games by market:

      You won’t have to wonder if your Lions are going to be on. They update it every Tuesday or Wednesday.

      • Ryan

        October 3, 2011 at 12:19 pm

        Hey, thanks! I had this map two seasons ago, but lost the link!

    • BA14

      October 3, 2011 at 5:49 pm

      Arsenal/Tottenham match was on in our local market in Wisconsin but I saw the match already and was watching the NFL.

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