Some weeks this fall, soccer fans may be able to see more games that football fans. ESPN finally made a move for EPL TV rights, getting the early Saturday and Monday games. This is in addition to acquiring the rights to some Spanish La Liga games earlier this summer. Fox is rolling out it’s Champions League package, including games on Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Sports Net. The two are set to battle over who is the premier soccer provider in the United States.
With the big movement in EPL and Champions League coverage, it is easy to overlook the existing lineups and minor changes of the current soccer channels. FSC continues to have a strong lineup with EPL, Serie A, Argentinean, WPS, USL1, and MLS matches. GolTV continues to show La Liga, Bundesliga, Columbian, and Brazilian league games. Setanta USA will have EPL, The Championship, Ligue 1, and the Russian Premier League. DirecTV won’t be left out as they have acquired the rights to the Europa League and will have wall to wall coverage of the Champions League with their Mix channels.
It is truly an exciting time for a soccer fan. FSC wasn’t even Fox Soccer Channel 5 years ago. ESPN didn’t cover the Champions League group stages until two years ago. EURO 2004 was a niche event that was only shown in a few select soccer bars, but every game of EURO 2008 was on ESPN in HD. Tomorrow, there are over a dozen games I could watch from leagues spanning the globe. I can start out with Chelsea and Hull kicking off the EPL season before 8am and finish with the Galaxy/Sounders game ending after midnight.
Obviously, interest in the game is at an all time high. Fox and ESPN are battling for soccer broadcast supremacy in America and the fans are ending up the winners. It is a truly stunning to think of the changes. ESPN has a countdown to a World Cup over 300 days away. Soccer fans have been asking and the broadcast titans have been listening. It is very interesting times for a soccer fan in America and I am going to enjoy it.