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FOX goes all in on Bundesliga with 8 live games scheduled for FOX

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After struggling with poor TV viewing figures for live Bundesliga games so far this season, FOX Sports has decided to throw a “Hail Mary” and show 8 Bundesliga games live on the over-the-air FOX network in 2016.

The games will be shown from January through May in the second half of the 2015/16 Bundesliga season.

The bold move by FOX will hopefully resuscitate the viewing figures for Bundesliga games on US TV, which so far have averaged less than 50,000 viewers per live game on English-language television. The outlier was the Bayern Munich-Augsburg game from September 13, which generated 926,000 viewers when it was shown on tape delay on FOX on the opening weekend of the NFL season.

Whether the pressure to put the 8 games on the main FOX network is a result of disappointment from the Deutsche Fussball Liga or internal pressure within FOX to fix failing numbers, it’s unclear. But the bold move means that the Bundesliga will get more live games on the over-the-air network than any other soccer league FOX has broadcast before in the United States.

SEE MORE: Poor Bundesliga TV ratings illustrate a bigger problem for FOX Sports.

The TV schedule is as follows:

Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016
12:00 PM – 2:30 PM ET

Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016
12:00 PM – 2:30 PM ET

Saturday, March 19, 2016
1:00 PM – 3:30 PM ET

Saturday, April 2, 2016
12:00 PM – 2:30 PM ET

Saturday, April 9, 2016
12:00 PM – 2:30 PM ET

Saturday, April 16, 2016
12:00 PM – 2:30 PM ET

Saturday, May 7, 2016
9:00 AM – 11:30 AM ET

Saturday, May 14, 2016
9:00 AM – 11:30 AM ET

The DFL hasn’t yet announced which games will be played during those times. Unfortunately for FOX and the Bundesliga, the March 4th game between Dortmund and Bayern Munich won’t be on the over-the-air FOX network.

SEE MORE: View the Bundesliga TV schedule for viewers in the US.

The biggest challenge that FOX Sports has faced this season with the Bundesliga is that the schedule overlaps with the most-watched English-language soccer league in the United States, the Premier League, which is shown on NBC Sports. Most soccer fans respect the German league and have an interest in watching it, but when faced with a choice of watching a league that fans have invested themselves in for several years, the gap is too much to expect soccer fans to change their allegiances and to watch the Bundesliga instead.

Having said that, FOX Sports and the Bundesliga have made the wise decision to select the Noon-2:30pm ET timeslot on Saturdays. While the Premier League hasn’t announced which February-May kick-off times will be changed to accommodate TV, the likelihood is that the big Premier League games such as Chelsea-Manchester United and the Manchester derby will be moved to Sunday kickoff times. This ensures that the Saturday Noon-2:30pm ET timeslot for the Bundesliga will be up against less high-profile games from the Premier League.

SEE MORE: Read Susie Schaaf’s weekly Bundesliga column.

The winner in all of this is the soccer fan in the United States. During the first and second quarters of 2016, if NBC Sports Group schedules games on the over-the-air NBC network, there will be several Saturdays where two of the major five commercial over-the-air networks will be showing soccer at the same time.

By making these moves, FOX is putting its best foot forward to change people’s behaviors and, more importantly, to try to win over the mainstream to watch Bundesliga games. Having the games on the FOX network for almost every week from April through May will certainly help build an audience. Putting them on live instead of tape-delay will help, too.

The announcement today declares that FOX Sports is serious about the Bundesliga and that the network is trying to give NBC Sports and the Premier League some real competition. How well the TV ratings do will depend largely on which Premier League games will be shown at the same time, and whether NBC Sports decides to show the games on the over-the-air NBC network or NBCSN. But, for now, FOX has made the first bold move. It’s now up to NBC to see what they decide to do.

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20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Al

    October 14, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    Sunderland vs. West Ham gets more viewer than Atletico Madrid vs. Real Madrid, Sevilla vs. Barcelona or Bayern Munich vs. Dortmund, BPL is really not on same league than others.

    If Bayern Munich vs. Dortmund could not beat Crystal Palace vs. WBA, there is no hope for Bundesliga.

    • R.O

      October 18, 2015 at 12:16 pm

      Al:

      Your comment “Sunderland vs. West Ham gets more viewer than Atletico Madrid vs. Real Madrid” is a bit misleading. More than which type of viewers? Among the Latin community, RM vs AM will get much larger viewing audience than Sunderland vs. WH. The El Classico (RM vs Barcelona) in world wide viewership will most likely top any EPL game (maybe in the past ManU vs Chelsea would be a close second).

  2. Phil02062

    October 14, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    The DFB choked the chicken last summer. They had Bayern in NYC/NJ plus in the MLS All Star game. I traveled down from Boston to the game vs Chivas at Red Bull Arena. The game was lackluster, the World Cup players didn’t play, and there was ZERO ZILCH NADA effort from Bayern to publicize the club in the game or outside the stadium. You’d think the idiots at the DFB would’ve consorted w Bayern in an effort to market/expose the club to a new audience. There were plenty of kids in the stands. Why not hand out a small freebie – like a little Bayern soccer ball, a stuffed Berni teddy bear, a magnet, a poster – ANYTHING! all they had was a merchandise stand hocking $50 youth size replica shirts. They totally screwed the pooch. There was little to no effort to market the club via radio interviews, tv interviews, print media – nothing. There was plenty of Audi marketing outside the stadium, though. Bayern did have an open training session the night before the game, but there were probably 500 people there. Doubt they marketed it much if at all. Frankly, it was kind of embarrassing.
    There were an autograph sessions at a beer hall, adidas store, and t-mobile store, but folks with whom i spoke said they were not organized well at all.
    I can’t speak for Bayern’s efforts at the all star game – maybe they tried to market the club in Portland.
    Maybe I missed something, but I don’t think I did. There was no Bayern presence at all outside the stadium. I kept thinking to myself, “what a missed opportunity this is.” Anyway, the point is perhaps the BL could have generated a head of steam 2 summers ago, and then followed it up with another German club in the states this summer – but there were none here! I honestly think if the BL was serious about marketing the club in the US, Dortmund, Leverkusen, Schalke – SOMEONE – would have been training in the states the summer prior to Fox’s Bundesliga coverage.
    Just seems like the DFB dropped the ball this summer by not having a club training here. My $0.02 anyway….

    • R.O

      October 18, 2015 at 12:54 pm

      Phil02062, you two cents are correct. I attended the MLS All-Star game vs Bayern. Portland did a good job of promoting the game and there were lots of Bayern Fans in attendance. Of course Portland being Portland, MLS supporters (via the Timbers Army) was huge.

      There were also a number of Dortmund fans at the game too (maybe 2 dozen). I was there to boo Bayern (lol) and cheer for the MLS (unusual for me – haha). I know after the whole Pep vs Porter non hand shake thing, a number of Portland fans became Dortmund fans (anti Bayern).

      In 1998 Bayer Leverkusen visited the US and played a game in San Jose vs the Clash (now Earthquakes). Game was well attended (not a sell out). For some reason, Bundesliga clubs didn’t come back to the US after that time. A few years ago (2011) West Brom visited San Jose to play the Quakes. Attendance was lackluster (very low).

      In 2010 Quakes played Tottenham. It was sold out but lots of issues occurred and Tottenham has not returned (and vowed not to). Quakes and Tottenham have a partnership but it seems it isn’t working well. In 2008 Quakes played Chelsea, well attended but Chelsea has not returned.

      This year Quakes played ManU. Issues occurred and while the game was sold out, many fans who had purchased tickets didn’t get to see game (60,000 tickets were sold for game but game was moved to another stadium and only 18,000 got to twatch he game, lots of unhappy fans and refunds).

      So you are correct, the Bundesliga has done a poor job of promoting the League and Teams in the US (and outside of Europe). Dortmund this year for the first time went to Asia to bolster the League and Team. Now when the Germany Nat’l team visits the US, attendance is excellent.

      The problem for the Bundesliga, outside of Bayern Munich, most US fans (non Germans) know very little about Bundesliga Teams (Dortmund only recently due the Champions League final vs Bayern and because of the ex-Dortmund Coach (Klopp).

      I think the only way for the Bundesliga to promote itself here in the US, would be for certain teams (Dortmund, Wolfsburg, Schalke) to play EPL teams here. Don’t think that will happen.

  3. Toby

    October 13, 2015 at 5:51 pm

    There is a fundamental problem, Americans prefer English soccer over German soccer like the rest of the world and all German games are shown at the time as English games. The Bundesliga has fewer stars, less cities of interest, it is a less competitive games and beyond watching Bayern beat down on opponents every week, it offers little alternative to watching the Premier League.

    Tape delay and aligning the coverage to the NFL is the only way for the Bundesliga to get viewers. The Bundesliga game that did this last month got the highest ratings for a Bundesliga ever. People forget the highest rating club game on USA TV was the tape delayed match of Liverpool vs Chelsea.

    For all the ability of Bayern it isn’t enough to sell the league.In 5 years time the Premier League will be NBA of soccer, because it will be eating all the global rights money of the other league and they will become feeder leagues. There are already signs that Muller and Lewandoski are hinting at moves to the EPL because they are aware they are earning less than half of what top EPL players are earning.

    • Eric

      October 14, 2015 at 10:26 am

      Toby you are biased against the Bundesliga. EPL is all over TV whereas Bundesliga isn’t. I am very interested in watching Bundesliga matches because if you look at the big picture, German clubs produce players for their national team that win World Cups whereas EPL teams (3?) only excel in the UCL. If they are less competitive why do their stars perform much better for their national team than do the English players? Have you forgotten how poorly England has performed over the past several World Cup tournaments? The marketing for Bundesliga matches is very poor, so that must change. I agree that it is all about money and marketing. Perhaps the top German players should leave and play for EPL for things to change for the Bundesliga.

      • toby

        October 14, 2015 at 2:49 pm

        I speak bluntly and to the point. There isn’t country or continent in world where the Bundesliga is more popular than the EPL (except Germany). In other countries the Bundesliga gets lot of coverage, but people just prefer the EPL.

        I think the Bundesliga and fans have deluded themselves into thinking the German league can be as big and popular as the EPL around the world just because Bayern are a strong team. The German league has historically been less popular around the world than the English, Italian, Spanish and French Leagues around the world and this doesn’t change because one team is very strong.

        Most fans don’t care about the German national team unless they are German, using this as a selling point is foolish. The German national team won because the bulk of their players play for one team so where used to playing together. You look at the German players in the EPL, they are hardly superior. England had the youngest team at the world cup in 2014 and maybe a little too green for that world cup, but I think England has more promising young players than Germany. It is harder to play for Man City or Chelsea as a young player than it is for Schalke or Dortmund, because German teams cannot buy high calibre players.If you look at youth football England has a far better record than Germany, with two Under 17 European Championships and winning Youth CL 3 times in the last 4 years. Bundesliga teams are even scouting English academies because they believe there are better players in England than in Germany.I think England have brighter future because they have one of the youngest teams in International football and qualified with for Euro 2016 with a perfect record.

        You can’t market a league were one team buys up the best players from their rivals making it a one horse race. Bayern’s greed to stay competitive in the UCL and create an Bundesliga All-star team, essentially killed any potential for the Bundesliga to become more global. No matter how successful Bayern become in Europe, they will never be as popular as Man Utd, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea around the world.

    • R.O

      October 18, 2015 at 12:03 pm

      Toby,

      Eric is correct in his comment that you are biased against the Bundesliga. Your past comments support this. Let’s take a look at this whole, Bundesliga, EPL, etc, etc.

      1. In the 1970’s the Bundesliga was considered the top league in the world (in many countries). This is pre EPL. The English game was considered one dimensional (Punt and run).

      2. In the mid-80’s Serie A became the top league in the world. Many German, English, Dutch, Spanish and other country players were going to Italy to play there. Yes, money being paid to players was one reason but not the only reason.

      3. In the early 90’s (2-3 year period) the French League “appeared” to make a move up in standing. It didn’t last. In this same period, the Bundesliga started to have a decline.

      4. In the 2000’s the EPL made a huge leap. Partially due to a change in philosophy. More foreign coaches were hired, more foreign players were coming into the league. Playing style became more pro-active and with passing and ball control (over Punt and Run).

      5. At this time La Liga became more popular too around the world. It wasn’t only Barcelona and RM. Sevilla and Valencia were challenging too.

      6. The Bundesliga made moves to change their style too in 2002. Bringing in more players from outside Europe and Bundesliga teams (and federation) to revive their youth system. The Bundesliga even had a temp working agreement with MLS and US Soccer Fed (it didn’t last). The Bundesliga was going to get US media development. The US media for other sports has lots of experience on how to promote sports, Germany was not very good at that. MLS was going to get coaching development from the Bundesliga. Don’t know what happen, but it seems it didn’t workout (BTW, for the US Nat’l Team, in the late 60’s early 70’s, a former German Coach (Dietmar Krammer) developed the US Soccer manual and philosophy for US Soccer)

      Ok, the EPL in terms of overall competitiveness is the top league in the world. I like and enjoy watching the EPL. For the Bundesliga, if you take Bayern Munich out of the mix, the league is very competitive too, not as good as the EPL or even La Liga.

      Serie A, has fallen far. Some teams are starting the climb back up, Roma, Napoli. Serie A has a long way to go to get back to the level they were at in the 80’s. Financial problems in Italy isn’t helping.

      So, as to why Americans like English soccer (EPL) over German (Bundesliga). Commonality. People in the US have always been more likely to be drawn to things with a common language (English) vs non English. After the early 80’s the Bundesliga wasn’t promoted or shown here in the US. It dropped out of view plus even in German the Bundesliga was struggle. One reason, the teams in the league were still playing the old style 60’s and 70’s style German game (very strict, no creativity)

      I still disagree with your comment that the EPL is more popular all over the world vs the Bundesliga. I will agree that Man U, Chelsea and possible Arsenal are more popular then 17 of the Bundesliga teams (Bayern being the expection.). But the same can be said the Barcelona, Real Madrid and possible now Atl Madrid are more popular then most of the EPL team around the world.

      As for your comment that the Bundesliga has few starts, really? Versus the EPL? Vs La Liga? Which?

      Bundesliga has: Lewandowski, Geotze, Reus, Hummels, Mueller, Neuer, Costa, and more. In fact I would say that La Liga has more stars than the EPL.

      Look, I watch many different country leagues (Serie A a lot less). I enjoy watching the EPL, La Liga, Ligue 1, even some of the Dutch League. I use to watch Brazil and Uruguay too when I had GolTV.

      My favorite is the Bundesliga as I grew up on German Soccer (football). I agree that the Bundesliga will not be a popular as the EPL here in the US. People don’t identify themselves with Germany as they do with England. Spanish speaking people in the US will watch more La Liga and Serie A than they will EPL. When it comes to National teams, more people in the US (and around the world) do watch and the German’s more so than the English Nat team. Gemany is just more famous on that level. Brazil has lost it’s luster in the last 5 to 6 years.

      I suggest we as fans don’t get into the “this league is better than that league”. As Soccer (football) fans, enjoy all league. Each has it’s good and not so good. True Soccer fans enjoy watching teams from different countries. Yes we all have our favorite league and team but should enjoy all football.

      Cheers.

  4. Blue Lou

    October 13, 2015 at 5:33 pm

    As I have pointed out before, Fox made their bed during the decade or so they had the ONLY studio show for US viewers & devoted like 1 minute per week to the Bundesliga. This exposure is not going to repair the damage to the brand that Fox inflicted upon itself, but it is a step in the right direction.

  5. Omair

    October 13, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    I really think that Fox is terrible at advertising the Bundesliga, and they do a poor job as well when it comes to UEFA champions league. I’d rather see the UCL in the hands of NBC (who have rights to EPL) or ESPN fully. With Bundesliga, I really wanted to watch it this year, and I only found out after the games of the first weekend that they were actually on Fox Sports networks.

    Also get rid of the dumb FS2 channel and just put it on an affiliate network.

  6. Bert Martinez

    October 13, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    Get Ted Lasso to take over at Gladbach, hilarity ensues, viewers abound.

  7. CTBlues

    October 13, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    Remember the problem Fox had trying to get local affiliates to air EPL games when they had the rights what do you think they are going to say to German soccer matches?

    • Blues Guy

      October 13, 2015 at 1:35 pm

      Easy. If you refuse to air the match, you lose your Fox affiliation.

      • Christopher Harris

        October 13, 2015 at 2:27 pm

        10% of FOX affiliates didn’t air a West Ham-Manchester United FA Cup game in 2013. They didn’t lose their FOX affiliation.

  8. daniel

    October 13, 2015 at 11:03 am

    Maybe its because games are being switched alot to FS2 which most people dont have.maybe instead of tape delay they should be live on FOX.maybe they need to tool their pre-half-post shows targeted to the niche fan instead of the casual like NBC does.maybe fans dont want to watch a 1 team league.just saying

  9. Tony

    October 13, 2015 at 9:42 am

    With no football or baseball to show, there is no reason for Fox not to show Bundesliga during those time slots on the broadcast network. Same for NBC with Premier League. The only competitive sport during that time period is college basketball, which ESPN and CBS have.

    • CTBlues

      October 13, 2015 at 1:17 pm

      FOX broadcasts the BigEast basketball games and baseball starts at the end of March. Also don’t forget NASCAR starts in February.

      • Eric

        October 14, 2015 at 10:10 am

        Are you serious? I live in NY and NO ONE I work with talks about NASCAR. My very-athletic, team-sport sons don’t EVER talk about, let alone watch, auto racing. Soccer fans usually don’t give a shit about baseball, especially in March. And college hoops is done once the NCAA tournament ends.

  10. Josh

    October 13, 2015 at 8:45 am

    This would be good…. if FOX knew how to market it effectively. Instead, they’ll likely try to ‘Muricanize the Bundesliga with their NFL-style robots, mini-fields, and garish sets. And they won’t hype the Buli as the passion-infused, fan-culture-focused alternative to the dull, elitist Premier League. It’s sad really. There’s so much potential there and the don’t know what to do with it. They should do detailed market studies on the BuLi fans in the US as to WHY they watch BuLi over the Premier League and push that in their marketing plan. Instead, they’ll continue to advertise small spots in between reruns of UFC reality shows and run NFL spots during USMNT events.

    • Omair

      October 13, 2015 at 3:43 pm

      PIZZA HUT HALFTIME show, irks the hell out of me, stop trying to recreate great plays by UCL teams on their own kiddy play area…

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