The UEFA Champions League returns with eightmatchesthat will be shown live across US television and Internet starting off with CSKA Moscow playing behind closed-doors versusManchester City.
Forviewersin theUnited States, the games will be shown across several channels. In addition to ESPN sublicensing some of the games from FOX, you can also follow the games onFOX Soccer Plus's MultiMatch 90service (which is offering a free trial this week).
The UEFA Champions League returns with eight matches that will be shown live across US television and Internet starting off with CSKA Moscow playing behind closed-doors versus Manchester City.
Forviewersin theUnited States, the games will be shown across several channels. In addition to ESPN sublicensing some of the games from FOX, you can also follow the games onFOX Soccer Plus's MultiMatch 90service.
It's no secret that we've been critical of FOX Sports' poor soccer coverage during the past two years where they've committed a catalogof mistakes and thumbed its noses at its core soccer audience. Thankfully, FOX Sports isbeginning to see the light based on a few improvements they've made during the past week.
It's been months since Real Madrid defeated Atletico Madrid in the 2013/14 UEFA Champions League final. And now the competition starts all over again, in the group stage, to determine which team will eventually become the 2014/15 champion.
For viewers in theUnited States, the games will be shown across several channels.
Being a fan of soccer requires a healthy knowledge of geography. Unless you are Fox Soccer Argentina. In March, the Copa Libertadores, the South American equivalent of the Champions League, was in full swing. San Lorenzo of Argentina traveled to Ecuador to play Independiente del Valle. Afterwards, some San Lorenzo players got angry and trashed the dressing room.
The US TV viewing numbers are in for the 2013/14 UEFA Champions League final between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. The match was televised live on FOX, the free over-the-air network, and was watched by an average of 1.9 million people. This compares to the 1.4 million people who watched the 2013 Champions League final, but was far lower than the 2.
During the past two weeks, FOX Sports' PR representatives have been busy at work securing interviews with top media outlets such as Esquire, Associated Press, Sports Illustrated, New York Post and, bizarrely, Rolling Stone. Their mission was to generate positive press about soccer commentator Gus Johnson in the lead-up to the UEFA Champions League Final in order to combat all of the negativity about the voice of FOX's soccer coverage.
Last season, it was the Gus Johnson Experiment, with FOX Soccer throwing basketball announcer Gus Johnson into the deep end to announce several high-profile European soccer games for US television. The "car crash" was filled with numerous mistakes, with Johnson learning on the job as he fumbled his way through until the summer, where he raised his game for the commentary of Gold Cup games.
Wednesday's UEFA Champions League broadcast of Barcelona against Manchester City set a record for the most-watched soccer game on FOX Sports 1 to date, with 420,000 viewers tuning in to see Barca win 2-1.
That compares to Tuesday's broadcast of Bayern Munich versus Arsenal, which was seen by 363,000 viewers on FOX Sports 1, which is the third most-watched Champions League game on FOX Sports 1 behind Manchester City vs Barcelona (395,000 viewers) on February 18.
World Soccer Talk Podcast host Nick Websteris doing a Reddit AMA today (Friday, October 17) at3pm ET/Noon PT.
Join the Reddit AMA right now by clicking this link.
With a Reddit AMA ("Ask Me Anything"), you can ask Nickany questions you like — whether it's aboutKlinsmann vs Garber, the state of US soccer, what it's like workingat FOX Soccer, hosting the World Soccer Talk Podcast, commentating Chivas USA games or anything else that's on your mind that you always wanted to ask Nick.
Nick Webster, formerly of FOX Soccer and now the host of theWorld Soccer Talk Podcast,will be on Reddit on Friday afternoon, October 17at 3pmET/Noon PT for a Reddit AMA (ask me anything).
If you haven't had a chance to participate in a Reddit AMA before, it's a unique opportunity to ask questions directly to writers, authors, celebrities or people with interesting stories, jobs or life experiences.
FOX Sports is close to finalizing deals to acquireAlexi Lalas and Brad Friedel as its newest soccer analysts, says a source to World Soccer Talk.
If finalized, themove to acquire the talents of Lalas and Friedel will bolster FOX's soccer coverage, where the two former US Men's National Team players can lend their expertise to FOX Sports' coverage of MLSand select US games(beginning in 2015), as well as coverage of the UEFA Champions League and, of course, the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar in addition to the possibility of working the 2015 and 2019 Women's World Cup tournaments.
Confidence in FOX Sports' expected level of coverage for the 2015 Women's World Cup and men's World Cup 2018/2022 is already at a low.
I won't rehash the reasons why (although there is extensive coverage of it on World Soccer Talk and other sites such as Awful Announcing) but there has been little shown so far from the network to indicate that it can reach the heights set by ESPN over the last two tournaments.
This weekend marks the start of the new Dutch Eredivisie season and there is a conspicuous absence of coverage on US TV. ESPN has held the rights to the league since the 2008-09 season. Prior to that saw the now defunct Setanta USA channel cover the Dutch league for a couple of seasons. While over the years a majority of matches were only available on ESPN's streaming service (ESPN3), for the past 2 seasons ESPN Deportes had regular coverage early Sunday morning.
With the 2014 edition of the Guinness International Champions Cup now completed, it's time to look at what FOX Sports' coverage was like during the tournament.
Certainly, there were some good points but not surprisingly, given FOX's track record of late, there were plenty of low points. As ridiculous as it sounds, FOX Sports's soccer coverage even managed to be worse than usual at times during the tournament.
FOX Sports has been using the International Champions Cup as a testing ground for a whole host of changes in its soccer coverage during the past week. Most of them, so far, have been poor. But tonight's coverage of the Liverpool-Manchester City game featured several cheap tricks that — yet again — give soccer viewers more evidence that FOX Sports (1) doesn't know how to cover the sport properly and (2) doesn't care what the viewer wants.
On Sunday night, ESPN wrapped up its World Cup coverage — it's eighth World Cup since 1982 — with a beautiful closing montage before presenter Mike Tirico said that ESPN were handing off future World Cup coverage to a network further down the dial.
That network is, of course, FOX Sports, whoafter paying $425 millionhave the FIFA TV rights from 2015 to 2022, which will include the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, 2015 and 2019 Women's World Cups, and 2017 and 2021 Confederations Cup.
Here's a statement that may send shockwaves throughout the United States soccer-loving community: FOX is not good at covering soccer.
Although FOX has played a major role in the growth of soccer in the States for many years, their coverage has been problematic. Piers Morgan and Michael Strahan trying to explain the difference between football and fútbol before the 2011 Champions League Final, and throwing poor Gus Johnson into the proverbial fire, are prime examples of the misses on FOX's tote-board.
Gus Johnson is the least of FOX Sports' issues with its soccer coverage. With just over one year to go before the network begins its broadcast of a worldwide soccer event — the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup — FOX Sports is more out of touch and disconnected from the average soccer fan in the United States than ever before.
Gus Johnson, "one of the best soccer commentators in the world" according to a FOX Sports pundit, is scheduled to make his return to the soccer airwaves on April 1 to announce the UEFA Champions League game between Bayern Munich and Manchester United. And no, it's not an April Fools' Day joke.
It's been over 8 months since Johnson has announced a soccer game on television, but FOX Sports will once again throw him in the deep end despite his very limited experience, this time for the high-profile UEFA Champions League quarter-final between Bayern and United, which will be shown live on FOX Sports 1 at 2:45pm ET on Tuesday.
Dave O'Brien, ESPN's lead soccer commentator for World Cup 2006, says that the USA games in the 2014 World Cup should have been announced by an American voice, and that he's envious of what FOX Sports is doing with Gus Johnson.
O'Brien, who was a trainwreck when he announced World Cup games in 2006, had this to say to The Berkshire Eagle newspaper this weekend:
"I think [FOX having Gus Johnson commentate in preparation for the World Cup] is a smart way to go.
Major League Soccer and the United States Soccer Federation are set to announce an eight-year contract with ESPN and FOX Sports today at 1pm ET. The multi-network contract is said to be valued at $75 million a year between both networks as well as an added $15 million from Univision for an exclusive Spanish-language deal.
We all love watching soccer, but many of you will agree that two of the most annoying aspects of watching the sport on television in the United States are 1) poor commentary by the play-by-play announcers, and/or 2) the tickers that run across the bottom of the screen.
But even if the soccer game features your favorite commentator, the experience can often be distracting when TV networks such as FOX Sports and ESPN run tickers across the bottom of the screen throughout the whole game.
Just as the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals were played this week, today's the chance for the eight teams left in the Europa League to make a mark in their first leg of the last 8.
Today's TV/Internet schedule for viewers in the United States is:
Lyon vs Juventus, 2:30pm ET, FOX Sports 1andFOX Soccer 2Go Porto vs Sevilla, 2:30pm ET, FOX Sports 2andFOX Soccer 2Go AZ Alkmaar vs Benfica, 2:30pm, ET, FOX Soccer PlusandFOX Soccer 2Go Basel vs Valencia, 2:30pm ET,FOX Soccer 2Go
For viewers in the United States, the studio crew will be Rob Stone, Warren Barton, Brian McBride and Janusz Michallik.
FOX Sports has announced a new feature to its UEFA Champions League coverage named Multimatch 90, which will allow soccer fans the ability to watch a "red zone channel" where the best highlights will be shown live or on quick replay. The feature, which will become available for the UEFA Champions League matches beginning this month, will only be available to subscribers of FOX Soccer Plus and/or FOX Soccer 2GO.
In previous years, we've kept you updated on the latest developments about how to watch soccer on television and the Internet by interviewing executives from FOX Soccer, Setanta Sports, ESPN, FOX Soccer 2Go, ITVN and others. With one of the biggest matches on the world soccer calendar just days away with el Clasico on Sunday, we thought it'd be timely to feature an interview with DishWorld Managing Editor Chris Bernier.