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Soccer TV and streaming news never stops: Podcast

In the NEW episode, number 254, Christopher Harris is joined by co-host Kartik Krishnaiyer to discuss several topics:

• What makes WarnerMedia an attractive destination for MLS,
• ESPN+ shares some new soccer numbers with us,
• A drought has fallen on the Africa Cup of Nations,
• FOX cements a World Cup deal with Twitter,
• Which soccer channels are losing the biggest % of subscribers,
• Why does the FA Cup upset MLS writers so?
• And we answer your questions in the Listener Mailbag segment.

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. Ilya

    January 17, 2022 at 9:06 am

    Ra it’s only 8 point lead over Liverpool I see that you don’t follow standings closely. And if Liverpool wins h2h match it will be only 5 points lead so race is far from over. We are currently midway through the race. It’s a two horse race now but top four finish will be exciting this year with7 teams fighting for four spots. Plus relegation battle will be super fun 5 teams battling for 3 spots.

  2. Fechin

    January 17, 2022 at 1:23 am

    @Scott bad take honestly, we are in for an awakening that the top 4 battle to the premier league is up for grabs which will be interesting and a regulation battle that can come down to the wire.

  3. Ra

    January 15, 2022 at 12:21 pm

    13 points lead? So much for being the most competitive league… lol
    Yet, I don’t think any EPL fans lost interest. The fact is that we are emotional beings and we do not fully understand why we like or dislike things. It is all an attempt to rationalize in the end of the day.

  4. Hans

    January 15, 2022 at 12:31 am

    Some quick quotes that ensures the idea that we will have EPL OTT or Premflix in the pipeline, but as already mentioned the logistics will be a nightmare, yet for the money that could be made, the EPL might just go for that logistical nightmare.
    Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has confirmed that English soccer’s top flight is developing plans to launch its own over-the-top (OTT) streaming service in the future.
    “We were ready last time and we will be ready next time, should the opportunity arise. I’m not saying it will happen in the next cycle, or when it will happen, but eventually the Premier League will move to a mix of direct-to-consumer and media rights sales.”
    Based on the estimation that the Premier League has 200 million fans worldwide currently paying to watch the competition, the UK newspaper calculated that a UK£10 monthly subscription would theoretically see the league rake in UK£24 billion (US$30.9 billion) each year.
    I think that is enough dosh on the table to give it a try.

  5. Scott

    January 14, 2022 at 10:15 pm

    It doesn’t help that the Premier League title race is probably over with Man City’s controversial win at Arsenal. Most of the games are now meaningless. Too many games also on Peacock, including big games. I am switching to the Spanish League for the rest of this season.

  6. jason

    January 14, 2022 at 6:57 pm

    Got to admit in that December-March period I lose interest in Soccer almost completly. Maybe excpetion is the world cup window at the end of Jan/first of feb. Fact that there are so many leagues with empty stadiums is a contributor of this.

  7. dave

    January 14, 2022 at 3:59 pm

    @Edwin, that is interesting analysis. If it bears out, it seems very positive for MLS. I estimated over-under for MLS rights (all games, no RSN blackouts), plus Leagues Cup but minus USWNT/USMNT, at $350 million per year. Looks like you are in the same ballpark. Anyone else care to guess? An old comment on how I see $350 as plausible though not certain:
    “Back envelope a baseline of $90 million minus $30 million (US Soccer) times 2 or 3 (sports rights inflation since last deal) for ~$150 million. Leagues Cup should be a hefty addition, MLS has grown in teams and games, broadcasters can show all local games. Enough for another 2 or 3 multiplier to $300-$450 million total?”

  8. Ra

    January 14, 2022 at 9:25 am

    @Kartik In the podcast, your description of why you don’t like cups in general seems to be perfectly applicable to WC. Is it the case? There is obviously nothing wrong with disliking it – just curious.

  9. Christopher Harris

    January 14, 2022 at 8:43 am

    I have to apologize for the audio this week. It sounded great when we recorded it, but the end product was not up to our standards. I went ahead and updated the stream with a revised edition, which has a better balance between the levels of Kartik and I. But I’ll strive to make future podcast episodes better quality sound-wise.

  10. Chris Guardiano

    January 13, 2022 at 11:11 pm

    @JP The only issue with MLS ditching RSN’s in their next TV deal is that some teams have deals with local over the air stations instead to air non nationally televised games. This includes two of the biggest & well supported clubs nationally Seattle & Portland who have deals with the local Fox affiliate. If MLS ditched the RSN’s & told the local over the air stations that they could not air local matches, there is the chance that local TV ratings for MLS will go down because for some people, their local over the air station is the only way for them to watch their team.

  11. Edwin

    January 13, 2022 at 9:40 pm

    Something not commented on Kartik’s reporting on a potential Turner Sports package portion of MLS rights going for about a little less than NHL rights is big. Turner pays NHL $225m yr a little less would put it in the $150-200m yr range for a portion of the rights. Which jives with my thinking this MLS rights cycle will follow a repeat of the last deal far overceeding expectations.

    If the Turner gets a package for that much that would likely mean they outbid FOX/CBS and would leave ESPN and a Spanish Broadcaster like Univision for the remaining. Since it’s already expected ESPN will have the “A” package which will cost a bit more then the potential Turner package you’d have to imagine it’s more than the $175m yr ESPN is paying La Liga, so it’ll likely be $200-250m yr range. All that would be left is the Spanish portion which would go for far less maybe $50m yr if that (currently $15m yr Univision pays).

    Seems like a very realistic scenario. Don’t be shocked if the number blows past the $300m yr floor MLS set similar to EPL deal where they set a similar number saying they wanted to at least 2x the old $167m yr deal. EPL got $450m yr.

  12. Ra

    January 13, 2022 at 8:38 pm

    @Hans @JP I foresee a combination of DTC+cable+streaming. They are not mutually exclusive. The F1TV is a great example – multi camera, multi language on F1TV. All races on ESPN cable and some training/qualifying/select races on ESPN+ or ESPN3.
    The Paulista state in Brazi. championship is another prime example – they split the rights between OTA/Youtube/HBO Max/Premiere and their DTC platform. They were able to increase their rights from the established providers while getting a foot on the DTC platform.
    Some matches are Warner exclusive, all others can be found on a myriad of platforms – in most cases you can find in several different media and platforms. It is somewhat messy – even for NBC standards (https //

  13. Mercator

    January 13, 2022 at 8:36 pm

    A broadcaster provides a middleman between the league and angry fans, and a broadcaster provides a consistent revenue stream. Imagine if the EPL went DTC and the app was as poor as Peacock. I would be trashing the EPL instead of NBC. The leagues are brands that play football, they don’t want to hurt that brand by releasing a poor streaming app or engaging in price discrimination (how will the EPL explain to UK fans why the same stream of the same game costs 5% as much in India). I think a league would need to be almost assured it would make significantly more than a broadcast contract before they would go DTC. I think football will be the first though – the numbers work much better for GLOBAL sports and big leagues already produce a lot of games and content for world feed.

    Bein’s coverage of the AFCON is an absolute disgrace. They need to get this channel off the air. Commercials during the match? I could deal with the lack of pre-post commentary, but to show commercials during the match is insulting. AFCON deserves better, its a wild tournament and great entertainment. I saw the second half of the Tunisia match and was confused but again BEIN with no real post coverage said nothing. Checked the news later and there is a BBC headline about this crazy ref! Please do better Bein. Or just go out of business. Sell yourself to ESPN+, the channel is basically ESPN+ content at best anyway. Maybe after the world cup the Qataris will change the channel back to Al-Jazeera News (actually a great channel to have).

    ESPN+ is glorious for the cup rounds, I love the multicast feature and the EFL and FA cups always show how great the EPL could be with a similar feature. I don’t think there is some MLS conspiracy against the FA cup – I think most journalists just have little interest in covering clubs even most english people haven’t heard of. Liverpool against a village club is charming for many but not really something that’s going to engage the American masses (unless after the fact if the village club wins). I also noticed the ESPN app is better quality than you would get on ESPN cable – Barca/Madrid was on both and it was sharper on the ESPN app. CBSSN is also much worse quality than Paramount. I think this might just be a YTTV/FUBO/Hulu thing. There are several channels that are much sharper for me directly from the broadcaster than on YTTV.

  14. JP

    January 13, 2022 at 7:42 pm

    @Hans, valid points. Most leagues aren’t ready for such a transition just yet, but if they committed to it I’m sure they could figure out the details and technical issues.

    Wouldn’t make sense for all leagues, such as NBA, NHL, MLB that have so many teams and games. The logistics would be very messy. Outsourcing this to RSN’s with a smaller package of national games spread across various providers is easier for the leagues.

    However, for the NFL and euro soccer leagues which have the teams playing once a week (on average) and far fewer games total, could see the switch made fairly easily. But right now they are definitely getting more under the current system than they could ever dream of if brought in house, so not just yet.

  15. Hans

    January 13, 2022 at 6:39 pm

    “That no one has done this yet must mean one thing, these right’s are going for more than the leagues know they’re worth and raking in the cash while they can. ”
    While I agree with your assessment of DTC services here are a few observations that have been published by EPL league chairman of why DTC is yet to be THE way to broadcast the games..
    1st if we stick with the EPL, they crunched the numbers and know they would make multiples more of what they are getting paid now by the networks. As their chairman admitted they have looked into it way back in 2018 but have to have all the EPL teams on board with it. That is one difficult obstacle.
    2nd, they can’t produce the actual footage as well as commentators, studio analysts that is all in the hands of the networks and they have contracts with them. In addition they also now need a technical team that will handle the support for this streaming service and again the networks or providers like Amazon or Apple have that kind of staff.
    3rd they need a pay processor that handled the subscription fees and keeps track of this and if it is globally there is another layer of complexity. Perhaps when the present contracts end OR when live sports have declined to the point of being not profitable at all they may take over and offer a DTC service.
    Here is my experience with when such a switch happens. ESPN+ broadcast last year the Pro14 or Rainbow Cup Rugby tournament and all its games. The organization decided to go the DTC route, whether that was because the networks didn’t want to pay the fee or no suitable network didn’t want to take on the contract, I don’t know.
    Therefore, for the present season the networks are:
    UK: Premier Sports, BBC Wales
    Ireland: RTE, TG4
    Italy: Mediaset
    South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa: SuperSport
    Canada: Rogers
    New Zealand: Spark
    South-East Asia: Premier Sports
    and for the Rest of the World and games NOT broadcast by those providers, URC TV which is their DTC.
    Now their DTC is actually getting the stream from Ireland’s RTE network which means their negotiated deal with them does NOT include pregame, post game or half time analysis and a few minutes after the conclusion the stream stops. They do have free highlights on their website.
    In addition RTE provides the player for the browser to play back the content, no app for Roku and other streaming devices and the one that does exists for Android and iOS has a dismal rating and massive complaints. I did snap up a 50% of Black Friday deal for $70 for a season pass of 150+ games. But as you can see it is in its infancy and when I compare it to other Rugby broadcasts with in studio personnel it is inferior.
    I do likewise hope that DTC will arrive sooner then later but the leagues have to have all their ducks lined up.

  16. JP

    January 13, 2022 at 4:28 pm

    What was with the audio today, Kartik so low then when it would return to Christopher would have to turn the volume down,….back and forth.

    The article on Turner’s interest in MLS rights and the discussion here has me thinking one thing. The time has come for leagues to finally forgo the middle man and just launch their own service. With most soccer moving to streaming anyway and it’s projected everything else is moving in that direction, creating league specific streaming apps is the simplest way to go. No more need for fans to chase around where matches are week to week (if multiple broadcast partners), no more need for local RSN’s, and no more need to go through the dog and pony show of rights negotiations every 3-10 years.

    That no one has done this yet must mean one thing, these right’s are going for more than the leagues know they’re worth and raking in the cash while they can. Still find it unfathomable ESPN isn’t losing money on La Liga, NBC on EPL (and more losses to come!), etc. If they day finally comes that bidders are no longer willing to use sports as loss leaders to gain subscriptions, or stop thinking of them as an advertising medium for their other properties/shows (NFL used for this purpose heavily by the networks), the gravy train will finally end.

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