Next US Champions League Rights Package Leaves Plenty of Questions

02 April 2009

Today Fox Sports International and Setanta Sports laid out the foundation for what the next UEFA Champions League contract will look like. The contract begins next season.

While on the surface it looks promising, there are still a few things that I have questions about.

Before I get to those questions let's look at the highlights. Thanks to Kartik Krishnaiyer at Major League Soccer Talk we know what those are.

  • On Tuesday, there will be three live games. One on the regional Fox Sports Net, Fox Soccer Channel and Setanta Sports. This will not be the case on Wednesday as games will only be on Fox Soccer Channel and Setanta Sports.
  • Fox Soccer Channel will have three games a round on delay during the group stages. It is still unsure how it plays out from there, but one would assume that they will have 2 games from the round of 16, quarterfinals and one of the semi-finals live.
  • Setanta will have 94 games in total, two games live during each round of the group stages.
  • Fox Sports Net will only have 16 games in total, all on Tuesday.
  • Fox Soccer will do the pre-game, halftime, and post game show in house while also doing their own wrap-up show.
  • The Champions League Final will be screened on cable channel FX, which is in as many, if not more homes, than ESPN2.
That's about where the highlights end. To me, there are still plenty of questions to be asked.
  1. Why only the Champions League final on FX? To that point, why are the Fox Sports Net games only on Tuesday? Wouldn't it be wise to put at least one game a round on FX (on Wednesday) to get viewers use to a Champions League game there? The only benefit to FX is the fact they have a HD channel where they can show the final. I just get the feeling that the final will end up having a lower rating because no one will be use to seeing games on FX.
  2. Fox Sports Net is not across the whole country. Some regions of the country have Comcast Sports Net. While CSN does have some FSN programming, they do not have to show the Tuesday games live. While that is being worked on now, it should have already been agreed to before this was announced. For the game that has the most reach nationwide, there should be no doubt about parts of the country not getting the game live.
  3. Again, Fox Sports International has not decided on using the international broadcast feed. This should have already been decided before making things public. For the record I think they should.
  4. I've mentioned this in point one but it needs to be elaborated on. Why are the FSN games on Tuesday only? If it's because Wednesday is one of the traditional 'getaway days' in Major League Baseball (that are on most FSN/CSN networks) where by some games are in the afternoon, it's a lame excuse.
  5. Not that big of a point to me, but it still makes me wonder, will we see a highlights show on FSN? I would think so.
  6. The main question I have for Setanta Sports is how much will they charge for live PPV broadband games now that they have exclusive broadband rights. That said, will they be available to those who pay for the yearly package without having to pay for the games on PPV.
  7. How does Fox Sports International leverage this into getting Fox Soccer Channel available on lower tier packages?
One thing is certain, there are plenty of questions that are still to be answered. Hopefully, Fox Sports is up to the challenge.


eplnfl April 4, 2009 at 8:38 AM  

So if you have do not have FSN then your half out of luck? That takes the Chicago market out. Real dumb in my book.

The Third Half April 4, 2009 at 8:50 AM  

It doesn't take it out of the question. From what I understand, Comcast Sports Net regional channels will still show the Champions League games. The only thing no one seems to be sure about (including Fox Sports International) is if they will show the games live as they do not have to per contract.

Best bet would be to start pounding the cable network and sports channel and demand the games are on live.

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Johnathan Starling, the self proclaimed 'most brutally honest man on the net, dishes out his own unique brand of opinions, and analysis on the Premier League, Bundesliga, and all things US Soccer.

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