I lost count of the number of times I saw hardcore soccer fans on social media saying they had no idea that FOX was even televising the Leverkusen-Bayern game. It’s almost as if FOX thought that by doing nothing, people would know the game was on their network.
We shouldn’t be surprised. FOX botched the launch of the Bundesliga season on US TV by waiting until the last minute to announce its coverage plans, and missed opportunities to promote the Bundesliga during the Women’s World Cup and Gold Cup.
We know that the Premier League and NBC are marketing machines. They have incredibly high standards for quality, but they also know how to market their product. You can bet that if NBC had the rights to the Bundesliga, the TV ratings would be far greater than what they are now under FOX. Unfortunately for the Bundesliga, there’s no turning back. The current agreement with FOX Sports expires in 2020.
Looking ahead, FOX and the Bundesliga have to make the best out of their relationship. With 6 more games to be shown on FOX’s over-the-air network in the next few months, there’s an opportunity to increase the viewership and hope that some of them migrate to watching Bundesliga games week-in week-out on FOX’s other channels. Unfortunately for the Bundesliga and FOX, there won’t be any Leverkusen games against Bayern Munich or Dortmund scheduled in the time slots that FOX has handpicked for over-the-air coverage. FOX will have to make do with what remains.
There’s a lot of work ahead. Hopefully FOX will come out of its shell and start promoting the league the way it ought to be done.