Main Fox Network to Air United vs Chelsea Sunday: 1st Free-to-Air EPL game in U.S History

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Post by Swanhends Fri Sep 16, 2011 2:49 pm

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/fox-pushes-english-soccer-alongside-nfl-2011-09-15

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — For tens of millions of sports fans, Sunday afternoons in the fall and winter are all about one thing: watching football. Starting this weekend, Fox is hoping some of those viewers can be lured to watch that other sport known as football, as it pairs soccer matches with its National Football League games.

On Sunday, Fox’s network channel will show the English Premier League’s Chelsea play at Manchester United. Depending on whether the local Fox station shows an early or late NFL game, the soccer will be broadcast at 2 p.m. Eastern or 4:30 p.m.

The move pairs the world’s most popular sport with America’s favorite game, and a small but surging television product with one of TV’s biggest offerings.

If Fox can create new soccer fans from among the millions of NFL watchers it will doubly benefit: A big hit on network TV could lead to a future of soccer-football double-headers on days when it only shows one NFL game; and even an incremental rise in soccer interest should help its two Fox Soccer cable channels.

“There are some pretty big hurdles for them to overcome [to make soccer mainstream in the U.S.], but that’s not to say they shouldn’t try, and it’s not to say that this won’t increase the sport’s popularity,” said Adam Swanson, an analyst at SNL Kagan. “You need something to drive its growth, and this could be it.”

Fox is owned by News Corp. NWS +1.81% , which also owns MarketWatch.

Soccer viewership, especially for European and international matches, has been rising dramatically in recent years, making it one of the fastest-growing televised sports in the United States. Read about soccer’s explosive growth.

It’s a trend that’s gathered pace. With the English Premier League season just four games old, Fox is reporting booming audiences, and says ratings for the early-season EPL games on Fox Soccer among the coveted 18- to 34-year old demographic are up 76% from a year earlier. Fox Soccer has seen its ratings record broken twice in the past six months, most recently when 954,000 people watched the United States play Mexico in June’s Gold Cup final.

“A few years ago games on Fox Soccer had between 50,000 and 70,000 viewers; now it’s more like 100,000,” said Stephen Master, vice president of Nielsen Sports. “And they haven’t been doing this for too long — it takes time to build these names up and really build their brand among casual soccer fans.”

The broadcaster has already benefited from showing soccer on its main network. May’s UEFA Champions League final between Manchester United and Barcelona was seen by 2.6 million people on Fox. Showing EPL games on Fox could give that competition a huge shot in the arm, especially for the games that will follow an earlier NFL broadcast. Swanson noted that the viewership of a program is often retained for about 15 minutes into the next show.

That means that on days when it airs the soccer match after its football game, the network would have the opportunity to capture some of the 19 million or so people who routinely watch NFL games.

“It’s an opportunity to introduce these teams to free-to-air in more than 100 million households,” said David Nathanson, head of Fox Soccer. “It’s a unique opportunity for us, and will broaden exposure for all our properties.”

That kind of reach is currently beyond the main Fox Soccer channel, which is available in 40 million homes.

Fox’s approach isn’t a new tactic. For decades TV networks have been introducing new shows around established ratings winners. More recently, networks have been using airtime to promote their cable content. Swanson noted that when NBC CMCSA +0.89% shows golf it heavily pushes the Golf Channel, and one reason Major League Soccer recently signed with NBC was that, while most of its games will appear on the NBC Sports Network, it will also feature on the broadcast network. Read about MLS’s NBC deal.

A boost to Fox Soccer’s ratings can help the channel, and its parent, in several ways beyond advertising. A strong and growing audience could help get the channel into more homes. It could also help raise its affiliate fees. A recent Sanford C. Bernstein research note, citing SNL Kagan data, said Fox Soccer receives 17 cents for each household; the Golf Channel gets 27 cents, while motor-racing channel Speed receives 22 cents.

Fox will show four EPL games this season, though just one, on Super Bowl Sunday, will be aired live. The other three will be broadcast as-live after first airing on Fox Soccer. Eric Shanks, co-president of Fox Sports Media Group, told MarketWatch that if the games are a ratings success, there’s a chance the broadcaster could in future sell EPL-NFL Sundays as a package to advertisers.

It remains to be seen how well the move will work. While soccer’s ratings are rising, they’re still dwarfed by ratings for major U.S. professional and college sports. There’s also the business challenge of selling advertising for a sport that is played in two long chunks and doesn’t have timeouts.

“No one wants to show 45 minutes of uninterrupted content,” said Swanson.

Shanks noted that, for example, FSC occasionally has strips of advertising across the bottom of a screen during a game.

“Part of the attraction of soccer for the viewer is knowing you’ll get uninterrupted action,” he said.
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Post by EarlyPrototype Fri Sep 16, 2011 2:52 pm

The good thing is maybe this attracts more *soccer* fans from the US.
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Post by Sushi Master Fri Sep 16, 2011 3:00 pm

Eeww. Fox.

But it's a step, I guess.
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Post by lenear1030 Fri Sep 16, 2011 3:14 pm

SWEET! I'll have my popcorn ready
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Post by Guest Fri Sep 16, 2011 3:20 pm

I swear to god, I first read Megan Fox in the title Sad

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Post by Raptorgunner Fri Sep 16, 2011 3:24 pm

Sepi wrote:I swear to god, I first read Megan Fox in the title Sad

I like Megan fox pirat , I wish Megan fox was for free. Sad


Last edited by Raptorgunner on Fri Sep 16, 2011 3:56 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by Swanhends Fri Sep 16, 2011 3:25 pm

Megan Fox Network is definitely not free-to-air
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Post by Guest Fri Sep 16, 2011 3:26 pm

Raptorgunner wrote:
Sepi wrote:I swear to god, I first read Megan Fox in the title Sad

I like Megan fox, I wish Megan fox was for free. Sad

She has been in Toronto this last week for TIFF...My friend spotted her at a Starbucks in Downtown a few nights ago Laughing

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Post by baresi Fri Sep 16, 2011 3:35 pm

Very smart move, and could be of massive use if both teams live up to the expectation and show an entertaining game.
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Post by Raptorgunner Fri Sep 16, 2011 4:02 pm

Sepi wrote:
Raptorgunner wrote:
Sepi wrote:I swear to god, I first read Megan Fox in the title Sad

I like Megan fox, I wish Megan fox was for free. Sad

She has been in Toronto this last week for TIFF...My friend spotted her at a Starbucks in Downtown a few nights ago Laughing

I know man, I live downtown, but I did not see her, I go by bay and Bloor I see a lot of stars just walking up and down and chilling at the bars there.
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Post by Gil Fri Sep 16, 2011 4:10 pm

It's not even live though.
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Post by Swanhends Fri Sep 16, 2011 4:12 pm

Gil wrote:It's not even live though.

depends on time zone/local NFL games
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Post by goonbrain Fri Sep 16, 2011 4:20 pm

Sepi wrote:I swear to god, I first read Megan Fox in the title Sad
you are not the only one Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
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Post by Art Morte Fri Sep 16, 2011 4:47 pm

Good news Thumbs up
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Post by McLewis Fri Sep 16, 2011 4:49 pm

Gil wrote:It's not even live though.

Baby steps, good sir.

It'll get there soon enough.
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Post by Great Leader Sprucenuce Fri Sep 16, 2011 4:51 pm

So that's why you all watch streams then ? pirat
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Post by McLewis Fri Sep 16, 2011 4:56 pm

Immaculate_Mole wrote:So that's why you all watch streams then ? pirat

Yup, you found us out.

Gotta shell out the big bucks to get football-specific channels here.
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Post by Mr Nick09 Fri Sep 16, 2011 5:32 pm

UFC, now footy Very Happy

Im going to watch to support them but i am already dreading the cheesy commentary, my ears cringing already
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Post by Great Leader Sprucenuce Fri Sep 16, 2011 5:34 pm

St_Nick09_of_Goal wrote:UFC, now footy Very Happy

Im going to watch to support them but i am already dreading the cheesy commentary, my ears cringing already

Solution..........

Youtube- favourite song- crank it all the way up= no Commentary

What i have been doing for over a year now and its much better than listening to crappy commentary Very Happy
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Post by TalkingReckless Fri Sep 16, 2011 5:39 pm

i rather listen to arabic or italian commentary then the American ones.....

don't hear any passion in it.....
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Post by Mr Nick09 Fri Sep 16, 2011 5:42 pm

I am sure they will call Torres a "Top Top player, European champion, world cup winner, one of the best strikers in the world blah blah blah" to which i will laugh profusely of course, lmao.



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Post by the xcx Fri Sep 16, 2011 5:44 pm

One thing annoys me is the hype of Landon Donovan, apparently hes a World Class player in there.
Whos commentating the game? Hudson?
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Post by McLewis Fri Sep 16, 2011 6:16 pm

All of the hate on Yank commentators can be traced back to John Harkes...

Worst commentator I've ever heard.

Bring back JP Dellacamera.
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Post by Amar Fri Sep 16, 2011 6:41 pm

I think FOX only has their own people doing the punditry pre-game, halftime, post game.

They might be getting the commentary from a different network, cause last year when they aired the CL final, they were taking the audio feed from Sky Sports, and it was Martin Tyler commentating.
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Post by Guest Fri Sep 16, 2011 6:55 pm

Who replaced Klinsmaan on ESPN btw?

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