ESPNU is probably not the first channel that comes to your head when you think of soccer coverage.
ESPN holds the rights to a number of major leagues and competitions throughout the world. However, just a few of those major games from Europe, Africa, South American and Asia will appear on this channel.
As a channel, ESPNU dedicates itself to coverage of college sports in the United States. Predominantly, this revolves around football and basketball. During those respective seasons, live broadcasts of games appear on the channel. Generally, the teams competing are not the most competitive in a given competition, but still draw in decent sized audiences.
ESPNU launched in March 2005. Then, the first broadcast came from an Ohio Valley Conference basketball game between Southeast Missouri State and Eastern Kentucky. From humble beginnings, you can see how the channel caters to the more niche audiences of college fandom.
The channel is available in the same packages that provide ESPNews. Both channels are often seen as accessory channels in the regard that they do not come in base packages. Cable providers may ask for an additional sports package in trying to acquire the channel. However, satellite providers DISH and DirecTV do provide it. The two satellite providers put the channels near the other ESPN channels, like ESPN or ESPN2.
ESPNU focuses on American football and basketball, and they do not provide Spanish-language broadcasts. Rather, all content that appears on the channel is in English. Likewise, the soccer coverage will also come from American commentators and pundits for pregame or postgame coverage.
ESPNU and Soccer
The channel focuses almost entirely on college athletics in the United States. There is a huge market for the likes of American football and basketball. But, ESPNU does also include smaller sports in the country. Soccer falls into that category with lacrosse, track and field or even Spikeball.
In terms of soccer, ESPN has a growing commitment to the world’s game, and that shows in the coverage of college soccer.
A number of games, both on the men’s and women’s side, will appear throughout the season on ESPNU.
These games usually stem from B1G play in the midwest or from the Atlantic Coast Conference. Broadly speaking, these two conferences are the best and most consistent overall.
NCAA soccer has a regular season and, as is the case with most American sports, a playoff postseason.
Significant collegiate games will have their broadcasts run through ESPNU if not already on ESPN or ESPN2.
In rare occurrences, international games get placed on the channel. Part of that is because games in Europe air in the early afternoon. At that time, there is limited competition for what is on American television schedules.
For example, the 2021 UEFA Nations League Third-Place Playoff aired on ESPNU. That game, on a Sunday at 3 p.m. ET, came at a time where most Americans watch American football. Moreover, ESPN does not schedule what they would deem ‘important’ content at that time.
ESPNU will always focus on college athletics, but it is a channel to keep an eye on for soccer as time progresses.
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