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Our love for soccer grows stronger even when US media ignores it: World Soccer Talk Podcast

In the NEW episode, number 181, Christopher Harris and co-host Kartik Krishnaiyer cover a range of topics including:

• The wacky world of the English Championship final day,
• What MLS TV ratings tell us about soccer in the U.S. of A,
• News about the future of the Scottish Premiership on US TV,
• Liga MX makes its return this weekend,
• Plus letters from you, the listeners, in our mailbag section.

Listen to the show via the player above or via this link.

Launched in 2006, the World Soccer Talk Podcast is the longest running podcast on the planet. Every week, we share the latest news about watching soccer on television and streaming, in addition to discussing what we like and dislike, and featuring your questions and feedback in our Listener Mailbag segment.

HEAR MORE: Listen to our archive featuring hundreds of soccer interviews

Send in your questions, comments and feedback via e-mail, via Twitter (@worldsoccertalk) or Facebook. We’ll read them out on-air in the next episode.

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  1. Michael

    July 30, 2020 at 8:39 am

    For the co-host that said that he had to switch back and forth to the different Championship games instead of watching them at the same time…please update the version of the ESPN app of your Roku or AppleTV. I am using my ESPN app right now, and you have several different option: 2 at a time, 1 large and the other cut in, 1 large and two cut it, 4 at at time equal. All you have to to is click the one that you want the sound to come from. I haven’t tried it on my laptop, but my Apple TV is working fine and that is how I am watching TV this morning.

  2. KB

    July 29, 2020 at 3:34 am

    How long until the top MLS teams (LAG, Seattle, Atlanta United, etc.) pull an EPL-style breakaway ….. hopefully going back to a 16 team league with more star power?

    • Turfit

      July 29, 2020 at 8:27 am

      Combine MLS and LigaMX top teams with Pro/Rel is a dream of mine.

    • JP

      July 29, 2020 at 8:31 am

      With the amount of expansion there’s now enough clubs to support a pro/rel model. But all those teams payed expansion fees with the mindset they’ll always be in the “top” league so it’s a non starter here, unfortunately.

      • Turfit

        July 29, 2020 at 9:46 am

        Agreed completely JP, but still a dream!!! 🙂

  3. Paul

    July 28, 2020 at 11:31 pm

    I feel no one ever mentions the way sports are ingrained into people’s minds during middle, high school and college. One thing that comes to mind is the pep rallies I experienced during my highschool years. If you weren’t a fan you became one through the school spirit system.

  4. Cpcva

    July 28, 2020 at 11:59 am

    One would think that they at least put the finals on ABC

  5. Azer

    July 27, 2020 at 10:52 pm

    I would say this goes beyond soccer. The USA has great athletes who compete on the international level but are never talked about in the US Sports media. Serena Williams is great example, she’s no foreigner, she an American, a world champion but outside the tournament itself she’s barely mentioned by the talking heads. She could win Wimbledon again or the other Grand Slams but the talk shows on ESPN & Fox would ignore her and the sport she plays and instead talk about the LA Lakers for hours. Lindsey Vonn is another example, a great American athlete. A country like Germany fell in love with her, in the USA no one knows who she is.

    • Michael

      July 28, 2020 at 10:13 am

      That was a good point…but bad example. Serena Williams is a super star in the USA…yes she is a mega super start outside the USA…but she is a Superstar here. She makes millions more in endorsement that she even makes on the courts. Her sponsors include Nike, Wilson, Gatorade, Delta Air Lines, Aston Martin, Pepsi, Beats by Dre headphones, IBM, Intel, and Chase Bank. She is constantly on the TV. Chris Fowler one ESPN’s biggest announcers, and they put him as the Wembelton announcer. They actually spend time talking about her and her quest for the most grad slam titles. All of the Tennis matches are on ESPN & ESPN+, and they have weekly studio show that is the equivalent of our ESPN FC. Tennis was one of the original programs on ESPN and has been on there since 1979. ESPN actually spending more on Tennis than they do on Soccer. Lindsey Vonn is however a great example. They will only highlight the Olympic sports during the Olympic years.

  6. Gonzalo

    July 27, 2020 at 7:59 pm

    I have three points to make in reply to the podcast and some of the replies in the comments section. First of all, one of the main reasons the talking heads on ESPN and FS1 don’t talk about soccer is that quite simply, these guys don’t know anything about the beautiful game. These guys didn’t grow up with soccer and are likely completely ignorant about it outside of hearing about Messi and CR7. As Disco George pointed out in his comment above, without a knowledgeable guest to help them out it would be a trainwreck hearing these guys discuss soccer. They know it as well, so I’m not surprised they would steer clear of discussing soccer during their daily shoutfests.

    Secondly, the other and likely, the principal reason the talking heads don’t bring up soccer on their programs is that, as American soccer fans have come to bitterly accept, the average American sports network viewer doesn’t want anything to do with MLS. With the limelight all to themselves, the MLS is Back tournament failed to get big ratings. I realize this is a vicious cycle. If you don’t promote MLS on the shoutfests, how can the ratings go up? But, since the ratings are so low, why bring up MLS and risk the viewers clicking on their remotes to go to another channel or, even worse, turning their TVs off?

    Finally, I want to discuss the “conspiracy theory” among some American soccer fans that American Football (College and the NFL) is being involuntarily shoved down the sports network viewer’s throats. I know that most of the people who listen to the podcast are huge soccer fans and many of you only live for this sport. But I have to burst your bubble. American Football is king in this country and, despite its many flaws, will continue to be king for the foreseeable future.

    American sports fans are addicted to the NFL and big-time College Football. They have craved college football for over a hundred years and pro football for nearly 50 years. The ratings don’t lie. This is why the talking heads will continue to talk about American Football non-stop. Even non-game events such as the NFL Draft or even the annual NFL schedule unveiling get high ratings. Sorry American Soccer fans. Time join the sad club of Baseball, NBA, Hockey, and Auto Racing fans who bitterly resent American Football taking up all the oxygen in the room that we call American sports.

    • Edwin

      July 28, 2020 at 9:02 am

      I stopped reading when you declared yourself the President and declared Americans don’t want anything to do with MLS . It’s the 3rd most watched league in the US and it’s championship get is more watched by a cpl million people so you’re wrong people do care. There is not much difference in a few hundred thousand more viewers that EPL get over MLS its statically noise in a country our size. Stop trying to segregate and split up our soccer. That’s the biggest issue soccer people are too busy trying to fight each other over scraps that we do more damage than good.

  7. Donald Duck

    July 27, 2020 at 3:01 pm

    I wish we had a soccer only tv station that would say have daily updates and highlights. The programs could easily piggyback off of TalkSports by having 6 or so hours of radio programming broadcast over the air. You can have 4 hours of news and highlights then maybe 4 hours of betting and upcoming matches and lastly 4 hours of talk shows. The other 6 hours can be 2 matches of any league that can be bought cheaply to start.

    • JP

      July 27, 2020 at 3:21 pm

      beIN Sports was closest to that at their peak. The Xtra was nightly and obviously the main focus was soccer. The Locker Room was at least twice a week (Monday to recap the weekend and Friday to preview). Then there was the Soccer Xtra after the final live match of the day they aired Saturday and Sunday.

  8. disco george

    July 26, 2020 at 9:42 pm

    I agree with a lot of the points made on the last pod about how weird the popular sports shows and personalities get about soccer.

    The problem is that when the shouty sports talk shows are forced to talk about soccer, unless they have a knowledgeable guest, it’s usually cringey, kind of like watching your dad try to rap or something.

    • Michael

      July 27, 2020 at 1:56 pm

      Instead of trying to force a change in this culture…it won’t happen…we need to concentrate on getting together the existing Football culture that we have, and make the most of it. The simple fact is that Soccer will never be a major factor in the American sports scene for three reasons: 1. Soccer is not American. While in modern time, we are allies with the Britain….most of last 400 years of developing our culture has been a concerted effort to differentiate our self and to distance our culture from the Motherland (well, other than legal system, military style, banking system, education system, etc. you know the minor stuff). 2. Soccer is the most popular sports in the US for “masses” to play an participate in America…but they aren’t passionate about following it professionally. Rightly or wrongly it is looked at as something that even the “normal” people can play. You don’t have to be 6’9. You don’t have to run a 4.3 40 yard dash. You don’t have to be able to bench 400 lbs or hit a baseball 400 ft. Most Americans look at soccer as something, that if you practice you can get the skills enough to play and have fun. By the time you get to the high school level, a vast majority of the people playing it have given up the sport. Because of how expensive it is for AAU circuit only the kids with money are still participating. 3. American’s are star driven sports fans. The caveat is “our stars.” While everywhere else in the world Soccer starts ARE the biggest stars…in this country the biggest, best, and most athletic people grow up play Football & basketball, because a. is the most readily most affordable option, b. there is where the big $ is located. Similar to Soccer, Baseball & Hockey are too expensive for the major of “non-rich” kids to grow up playing. When it gets we get to the higher levels…Baseball is supplemented Latin American players that are born and bread to play with no other sports to compete. It is their singular passion and dream sport. Hockey in the same way is supplemented by Canadians that grow up playing nothing else, and dreaming nothing else. I know that nobody wants to hear this…but the athletes we have playing soccer in this country are not the best athletes. In the rare occasions when there is a phenom…he is sucked up and taken right away to Europe. He would never stay in America to play American Soccer. This is just my humble opinion. We have so much great Soccer on TV. Let’s just enjoy it and not worry about any other sports ratings or numbers.

      • CTBlues

        July 30, 2020 at 12:47 pm

        Baseball never used to be an expensive sport to play in this country until they started to copy the soccer model and travel teams became the “popular” thing to do. Its also the reason why there has been a decline in African Americans in the sport.

  9. Donald Duck

    July 25, 2020 at 4:02 pm

    If you want to hear soccer news and gossip then what I listen to is TalkSports i use TuneIn app and just listen to the UK programming. I have given up on ESPN and FS1. Hell i personally don’t want the talking heads over here to try and discuss a match that would drive me nuts because they have ZERO clue what is going on, and to top it off it qoyld only be the big 4 (Liverpool, ManU, ManC, Chelsea) that would be covered anyways.

  10. jason

    July 25, 2020 at 8:56 am

    Very important detail about Major League Soccer low ratings you are leaving out. They embraced “woke” and BLM. Nobody wants to see that. That is why I have not clicked on any ESPN+ MLS game even once.

    • Michael in TX

      July 25, 2020 at 9:15 am

      I completely agree with that. I couldn’t bear to watch those 1st 12 games of premier league when they did their kneeling. Right now, if I do watch MLS, I start the match late on purpose so I don’t have to watch the “political” opening theatrics. And don’t get me started on those shirts the subs and staff are made to wear…ugh.

      • Turfit

        July 25, 2020 at 10:55 am

        Liga MX started back yesterday and on Fubo you get TUDN Extra channels and you can watch it with English commentary. So if you do not want to watch MLS for whatever reason, there are other options and if you compare player values of both leagues, better options.

    • KB

      July 29, 2020 at 3:36 am


      • KB

        July 29, 2020 at 3:37 am

        I’m not saying it’s bad to do that once. But to stop the anthem and start every game with a woke lecture is a turn off to a lot of the country.

  11. Michael in TX

    July 24, 2020 at 8:19 am

    Last night (23rd) on ESPN, the network that has been broadcasting MLS, Alex Rodriguez said “MLB is the first sport back.” while announcing the Yankees/Nationals game. I just chuckled, shook my head, and asked my son what, then, have we been watching the past 2 months? Even if he was just referring to American sports he was wrong. SMH

    • JP

      July 24, 2020 at 8:55 am

      Noticed the same thing on my local sports channel as they were discussing MLB’s return. Didn’t even qualify it as “the 1st of the 4 major sports” which at least would’ve been more factual, they said 1st of American sports leagues lol. Same channel that holds the rights to our MLS team too.

  12. Greg C

    July 24, 2020 at 2:54 am

    Chris/Kartik, do you have a subscription to The Athletic? Is it worthwhile? I would be interested in hearing this discussed if you think it falls under the WST remit.
    Thanks for your work

    • Turfit

      July 24, 2020 at 8:12 am

      Greg, If you like to read, I would highly recommend it.
      The coverage that they give EPL is excellent. They have reporters covering each and every team. The coverage for MLS, MLB, NFL is very good. My issues with it is the lack of coverage of cricket and La Liga. La Liga coverage is an article every 2 -3 days. Don’t think I have seen an article on cricket. They have several articles daily right now on the NFL, NHL, and even more articles on MLB.
      MLS coverage: 2 articles yesterday (July 23), 4 articles on July 22, 3 articles on July 21, 1 article on July 20.
      If you are just looking for headlines, give it a pass. I have yet to find a short article, they tend to go very in depth. They also have excellent authors to include Rafa Benitez and many others.
      So, if you like to read, yes it is very worthwhile.

    • Christopher Harris

      July 24, 2020 at 8:19 am

      Greg, good question. We’ll address it on the next episode. Cheers!

      • Greg C

        July 24, 2020 at 11:32 pm

        Turfit, thanks for all the info. I wouldn’t mind it for the podcasts as well but I think you will have to go through their app and my phone isn’t great. Maybe Chris and Kartik will go through all that.
        Thanks Chris, looking forward to it 🙂

        • Turfit

          July 25, 2020 at 10:59 am

          All their content is also on the website.

  13. JP

    July 23, 2020 at 4:15 pm

    The bias against soccer goes deeper than just on sports programming or talk shows. It permeates everything, as does the pro football (American) agenda.

    As a 1st generation American who’s family weren’t particularly NFL fans, think I have a different perspective than someone who’s family was here for multiple generations.
    I grew up liking basketball and hockey the most, and honestly didn’t care for the NFL all that much. However, after being ‘brainwashed’ for lack of a better word through all media about how exciting and important football was, I eventually succumbed and became a fan. NFL is incorporated into sitcom plots, mentioned on morning talk shows like Good Morning America and the like. Obviously football is often a major backdrop of many movies, whether high school or college and so on.

    I’m not sure if this is a coordinated effort or just an unconscious bias of writers, but can easily see why the media would want to push the “everyone is watching football and so should you” view. Television programming is dependent on how much advertising they can sell, advertisers know television is the most effective way to reach a critical mass of people. In this symbiotic relationship, both (media companies and advertisers) see football as the perfect delivery method for program promotion and ad space. With the games constant stop and starts, breaks, delays, and so on, it is more of a 3 plus hour commercial with football interruptions rather than a 3 hour football game with commercial interruptions.

    In the same vein, soccer is a terrible product to sell advertising around. Not many stoppages for the network to promote other programming, no captive breaks to insert advertising breaks.
    While there are kit sponsors and advertising around the field (more effective in my view since in view during the action and not breaks in action where we can change the channel), this isn’t controlled by the media company televising and can’t be monetized. Ironically, we have no problem being bombarded with commercials every few minutes during football game or creating “2 minute warning” for the sole purpose of adding another commercial break, but soccer clubs selling ad space on kits is considered selling out.

    The media (again, not just sports programming) pushes the soccer is unimportant or boring narrative to help keep football king. Something similar is also seen with hockey, it’s often portrayed in the media as a game played by toothless foreign ‘goons’. But of all the major sports, soccer and hockey have the most action and least breaks, lack of breaks is bad for the advertisers, who don’t care more action is good for sports viewers.

    • Edwin

      July 23, 2020 at 9:17 pm

      I do wonder if soccer is realizing this with adding water breaks and five subs, I think that they become permanent, I know its common place in Latin America but you’ve seen FOX add in split screen commercials during the hydration breaks to start to monetize on commercials. I think next you might see quick split 15-30 sec ads when the ref signals for commercial breaks or during injuries. None of this is looking down at it especially if thats what it takes to get the game we love media corp. buy in as the see they can promote products.

      • Walter

        July 23, 2020 at 10:41 pm

        Brilliant listening to you both discussing European football matches. I’ve listen to you both for a few years now. I also began following since it was Called EPL talk, Many thanks for all the information regarding streaming apps and channel changes. For football. Please keep me updated on new tv rights for Scottish premiership and Belgium pro league. I could listen to you both all day. Many thanks ⚽️🥂🍾

      • DT

        July 23, 2020 at 10:42 pm

        Water breaks when it is 30-50 degrees and raining most of the season? 5 subs when it obviously favors the big teams? That people in the UK/Ireland would be happy to already pay crazy prices to currently watch less games for much more money but now lets add commercial breaks to satisfy the US market? Fantasy.

      • JP

        July 24, 2020 at 9:07 am

        Actually hope they don’t do this. The “Americanization” of soccer would only make it worse in my opinion. Already see it with VAR (replay was a thing here in sports long before VAR, and it only evolves to get worse over time).

        I don’t want permanent “cooling breaks”, don’t want 5 subs. This is fine for the circumstances now, playing in hot weather when the season is usually over, and condensed scheduling being a burden on the players. Going forward, these need to end.

        • Donald Duck

          July 24, 2020 at 12:30 pm

          People said i was crazy saying that the higherups were looking for a way to make the water breaks permanent just so they could sell some advertising. Money (advertising) has been the downfall of American sports and is abo to ruin European sports. Hell cricket has a quick commercial after every over now compared to basically none a decade ago.

          • JP

            July 24, 2020 at 12:53 pm

            I’m ok with advertising so long as the flow of the game isn’t interrupted. Signs around the pitch, tarps behind the touch line, ads on the front and back and arms of kits, ads next to the score bug, etc are all fine. I’d be happy if American sports went that way (ads on NFL helmets instead of team logo, ad boards around the field and so on) and do away with the needless commercial breaks. As I mentioned in my original comment, these are all more effective too than commercials most of us try to ignore. Those other options cannot be ignored (same for board ads in Hockey).

            • Turfit

              July 24, 2020 at 1:08 pm

              I noticed the other day while watching FC Barcelona, the message board around the pitch with the main camera angle was advertising Budweiser and then they changed cameras to more up-close angle and the message board had a different advertisement that was in Spanish and a few seconds later they went back to the main camera and the Budweiser ad was still showing. This was on beIN Sports. I’m assuming La Liga is doing this with their English world feed since La Liga is the ones placing the fake fans in the stands. The main camera has the fake fans graphic and the other cameras do not.

  14. Edwin

    July 23, 2020 at 3:14 pm

    Solid pod guys it’s nice to see more of the discussion of the medias bias against soccer. We as soccer/football fans all have to stick together there is too much division to fight amongst ourselves about Pro/rel, hating on one league over the other which if you follow twitter their were sections that hope the COVID pandemic to cause MLS to go under as crazy as that was.

    Back to the media bias Chris and Kartik talked about I’ve seen it first hand on twitter with a media person I’ve converted and respect his opinion. I made a comment to his post knocking MLS viewership and pointed out MLS doing well in demo #s as well as beating a the first night of return to baseball on ESPN2 with the Yankees vs Mets. The person basically said MLS should be behind a paywall in his opinion with a few games on TV. This is the kind of bias soccer faces. The old guard would rather push most soccer behind paywall and off TV in favor of their established sports. Key Demo ratings as Kartik said last podcast shows leagues like Liga MX/EPL/MLS are in fact more popular in the 18-49 yr old demo. Soccer fails to draw the bigger overall viewership because of a lack of generation to generation fandom that leagues like MLB and NHL can attract for the spectacle of the big games i.e Stanley Cup Playoffs, MLB Playoffs.

    Solid pod guys!

    • Edwin

      July 23, 2020 at 9:06 pm

      not converted but conversed*

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