Monday, March 30, 2009

ESPN Announces It Lost Champions League Rights In US, FSC = Wnrz?

UF has been chasing this FSC stealing the US Champions League broadcast rights from ESPN for some time now first reporting these rumors nearly two weeks ago and had them confirmed shortly thereafter.

It now appears that ESPN is announcing it did not win the rights. Noticeably absent was any statement by FSC proclaiming victory, only an unsourced declaration by the wire reporter that FSC wanted to wait until all the documents had been signed. While I'm sure this is true I still want to know why FSC is so tightlipped. I was wrong about the announcement last week, but I am still not sure what is holding it up because this news has really already lost its impact. A big press conference after all the documents are signed isn't going to do much, in my opinion.

Clearly, this is a big blow to ESPN's soccer expansion hopes. It remains to be seen if FSC and Setanta retain their respective EPL broadcast rights, but given ESPN's recent performances, it is looking rather unlikely for tWWL to be growing its business this way. To recap, ESPN failed to land UK EPL rights, and lost CL rights in South, Central and North America.

Have the big money bids for BCS and SEC college football games really wounded the mastodon that much? What's going to happen to the ESPN soccer people? MLS surely can't support all of them now.

UPDATE: Thanks to Georger in the comments we now know that the left hand and the right hand of Fox Soccer do not communicate very well as the AP report has been posted on Fox Soccer.

15 comments:

Mike Georger said...

FSC should announce right before the next round.

Mike Georger said...

Wait a minute, there's been an announcement on the FSC page for five hours.

Ibracadabra said...

I am happy..

as long as St Louis, Machado, Brezos, C Miles, and K Costigan ahve absolutely NOTHING to do with these telecasts.

please. I'd much rather have precious roy, lingering bursitis, ny kid, mike georger, and the fan's attic introducing me to the CL matches than fucking keith costigan.

somebody. anybody.

The Fan's Attic said...

thanks ibra...

while i would like to think we could all do better, i imagine it's gotta be a little more difficult than it looks.

amy said...

FSC needs to upgrade and provide a HD channel. ESPN at least gave us that.

Ibracadabra said...

TFA -

Fair enough. I imagine it is VERY difficult - so how about FSC matching the ambition of bidding and winning for the Champions League's rights by providing us first rate announcers with journalism experience to boot.

If you have the high quality product on the pitch, it's only fair you attempt to provide it in the studio.

I love FSC, and I watch that channel more than any other - but it's out of necessity - it's where the footie is. I think it's a bit disingenuous to the fan to give us the best product - the CL, but to couple that with announcers with little experience or knowledge. It's just a bit unfair.

Mike Georger said...

Considering that they're updating to HD, I would kind of expect that they're going to be upgrading the announcing. Man that would be a sweet job.

Nathaniel said...

I have a question. So many people have been saying: "At least ESPN was in HD, FSC won't be."

EVERY SINGLE FUCKING GAME OF THE CL I'VE EVERY WATCHED (except for the championship game) IS NOT IN HD ON ESPN2!!1!!!!11!!!!!?!?!?//1/?!1!!!

Stop saying that the games are in HD on ESPN! Dammit!

/sorry, bad morning

The NY Kid said...

@Ibra - hey, if they ever show Ligue 1 games I can affect a snooty French accent and automatically get the job!

Registering To Comment With Blogger Sucks said...

Well, there goes one of the biggest engines for soccer's growth in the United States.

The presence of Champions League on ESPN gave casual American sports fans an opportunity to see the sport at its very highest level. It also has given ESPN a big reason to really care about the game. It was just, what, three or four months ago that "SOCCER" became a fixture on the scrolling bottom line?

I hope I'm wrong about this. I really do. But since first hearing these rumors, my instinct has been that it's definitively NOT good for Champions League to get shoved off the country's biggest sports network into FSC's relative wilderness.

There's a very real possibility that this move "freezes" soccer into its current status in the U.S. sports hierarchy. (And no, not just because CL itself is gone from ESPN, but because CL's absence might temper ESPN's overall embrace of the game. Does soccer start returning to its third-tier status on ESPN? )

And what happens to the talent, I wonder? Do Rae, Healey and the rest of them stick around?

I appreciate the hell out of FSC (duh), but in the broader view, this development is hard to get jazzed about.

Goat said...

Anyone else think that Registering to Comment With Blogger is actually Rob Stone? I keed,I keed. Actually, I agree even though I'm certainly no fan of ESPN's treatment of soccer. It's hard enough to be a casual fan of the game in the US and I'm afraid it will get even more so with ESPN having even less incentive to promote it. Their CL broadcasts are what got me more involved in watching at the club level and pushed me into getting FSC. As long as FSC remains in the cable ghetto, there's not going to be that same opportunity for casual fans. On the bright side, though, maybe this means that Alexi Lalas will finally be out of a job.

Mike Georger said...

"But since first hearing these rumors, my instinct has been that it's definitively NOT good for Champions League to get shoved off the country's biggest sports network into FSC's relative wilderness."

They got terrible ratings on ESPN. Barely a million viewers for the final last year.

Let's face facts people, soccer has been the 'next big thing' in America for the last fifteen years. It just ain't happening, the average American sports fan is not going to embrace this game. The MLS simply is not good enough for anyone to be interested, and the national team is inconsistent at best against top competition. We as a nation only like winners.

And frankly, ESPN treats soccer like shit. Even the biggest games only get the last thirty seconds on sportscenter and they can't even pronounce 'Gerrard' correctly.

People act like ESPN makes any sport successful. UEFA doesn't need a market that at it's best can give them one million more viewers when it's the most popular league in the world outside of this country, I'm sure the Champions League will be just fine. Look at the NBA, ESPN forces that on us like date rape but it gets horrendous ratings. Same thing with hockey, everyone says 'oh the NHL needs ESPN to get back to where it was' but ignore that it's getting better ratings on Versus than it ever did on ESPN2.

Frankly, I don't give a shit about the casual fan. They probably want United to win anyways.

Magnakai Haaskivi said...

Do ESPN's broadcasters only broadcast the US feeds, or are those same feeds picked up in other countries? It'd be a shame to lose Rae/Smyth for the Euros and for the World Cup.

The Fan's Attic said...

no idea.

Registering To Comment With Blogger Sucks said...

They got terrible ratings on ESPN. Barely a million viewers for the final last year.

What an odd way to argue. OK, so they got "terrible ratings" on ESPN. How does that counter the point about getting shoved off into the FSC wilderness?

...the average American sports fan is not going to embrace this game. The MLS simply is not good enough for anyone to be interested, and the national team is inconsistent at best against top competition. We as a nation only like winners.

What an odd way to argue. OK, so the "average American sports fan" isn't going to embrace soccer because of seeing bad soccer. So what about seeing good soccer -- like, you know, the frikking Champions League, which is our topic here?

And frankly, ESPN treats soccer like shit.

What an odd way to argue. This very discussion is about the fact that ESPN embraces Champions League -- i.e., doesn't "treat soccer like shit" -- and whether it's good or bad that Champions League will soon be embraced by someone else.

There may be perfectly valid arguments that Champions League on FSC is a good thing, that ESPN isn't a big loss, etc. But you have not made them. You've merely tossed out a bunch of random stuff that doesn't actually counter anything I wrote.