For those seeking confirmation of UEFA Champions League to FSC …

Here ya go.

Figures aren’t mentioned in the article in terms of what FSC paid for the rights to broadcast the UEFA Champions League on its network, beating out the Worldwide Leader.

But it raises lots of interesting questions. First, the story says that FSC will get the Champions League beginning next season. Even without a monetary figure in the story, it’s safe to say that it is a high-risk, high-reward for FSC, which still shows 20 ProActiv commercials at halftime of English Premier League matches, and isn’t quite the home for major sponsors like those ESPN pulls in for all sorts of sports.

Let’s look at it:

* FSC has two channels at its disposal. One in English, one in Spanish. FSC is still working on the whole HD thing. The channel haul has the potential to grow if it uses FSN regionals and the three Fox College Sports channels (which show everything from college fishing to high school football) for re-airs.

* ESPN has four channels (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, and ESPN Deportes) that can/have showed matches. ESPN long ago put forth HD. This year, Classic has brought us “Press Pass,” and there’s also been regular Champions League highlights shows.

* Can FSC carry both the Premier League and the Champions League and present them both in top fashion? Can FSC commit to the Champions League while also committing to MLS? MLS has the summer to itself in that respect, so that helps.

* Can FSC deliver broadcasts in the quality fans have come to expect from the Worldwide Leader? It’s more than just the HD thing. It’s announcers, the variety of matches and teams aired, and simply put, how many matches will be available. For the most part, if you have the four ESPN channels, you can see every match on a Matchday at some point. Will FSC commit to the same level of programming?

It’s all just stuff I started wondering about when I saw the story. FSC is taking on a major product. A halftime show with Nick Webster and some other random guy with an English accent probably isn’t going to cut it. It’s the top event they could have landed – and fair play to them for pulling it off. But there’s a high expectation in coverage that comes along with that, and it will be interesting to me to see how they handle it.

For the sake of seeing good soccer on television on a regular basis, I wish them luck.


6 thoughts on “For those seeking confirmation of UEFA Champions League to FSC …

  1. What I can’t figure out is if FSC’s current broadcast and production “quality” is because of incompetence or pragmatism.

    If it’s incompetence then we’re all in deep trouble. I think it might be out of pragmatism. We all see FSC’s ad base. It isn’t pretty. If it’s simply a case of FSC trying to do what it can with very limited funds, then fair enough, the Champions League and probably influx of ad dollars will give them a stage to show just how good of broadcast they can do.

    Right now I am leaning towards the pragmatism argument, because FOX (the parent company) does operate a good niche sports channel in the form of Speed Channel. Speed’s productions, including even the niche events like F1*, ALMS, and Supercross, are light years in front of anything FSC does. That said, Speed seems to have a far better base of advertising revenue to work from. Most recently, Fox has pushed more live NASCAR Sprint Cup programming to Speed in order to help push its HD channel on to more cable systems.

    Perhaps the Champions League is the asset that FSC will try and use to do the same thing with its hypothetical FSCHD channel. If so, it would make sense to also ramp up the quality of the shows.

    * Yes, I know that Speed doesn’t produce the F1 live feeds, but their coverage surrounding the races is far better than any equivalent programming on FSC.

  2. What about non-HD video quality? When I compare the SD video quality of MLS matches on FSC vs ESPN (or CSN), the FSC quality is lower.

    Anybody else notice this?

  3. Appreciate the confirmation, I wasn’t going to put any stock in it as long as the only sources were blogs that clearly had a dog in the fight. And it was a pretty shocking development.

    One thing shocking about it is that the Champions League final will be moving to Saturday next year, which would have been an opportunity for ESPN to post a rating significantly higher than the ~1 million viewers they got for last year’s final on a Wednesday afternoon–and then to feed that right into the World Cup.

    I don’t imagine they ‘let it go’ so much as Fox shot the moon to outbid them.

    In that context, it’s a big gamble for Fox. My impression is that FSC has been doing fairly well and was looking to expand when this opportunity came up (FSC had recently paid a fairly good amount to get Nielsen rated, and liked what it saw), but this strikes me as conceivably skipping a few steps on the way.

    I mean, you’re talking about a network that needs a Big Four Premiership club to break 200,000 viewers currently trying to make the leap–in one year–to an event that should probably draw ten times that number.

    They do indeed have other channels like FSNs and FX, but even so, they’ll need an upgrade in nearly every dimension to pull it off, and I could very easily see them blowing it. Worse yet, I could see that first Final being Porto-Bayern and blowing it for them.

    On the other hand, if they succeed, it will mean FSC has ‘arrived’ (even if they have to use a bigger network for the Final, it will be promotional gold for FSC), and that kind of publicity can’t but help American Soccer.

  4. You’d have to think this is a big step in going more mainstream as far as distribution. You can get FSC on most cable/satellite providers, however at a cost, whether it be as a higher program tier or pay channel. If they can get the adequate revenue stream from showing the games through a more robust platform, you can see them being available to a wider audience at less of a cost. Now while that is somewhat up to the provider, there are contracts as to how easy it is to get that channel, or more simply, how much you have to pay. (see GolTV and why they are no longer distributed by Dish).

    Knowing that FSC will have an HD version supposedly available next year, they will have to have a distribution format available to show the higher profile games which you would think will be picked up in HD (Up to this point, even ESPN’s only HD CL match was the final from Moscow). Studio production value will most likely be better, and to speak to Aaron Stollar’s comment about ad stream, I believe you will probably see more Sony, Heineken, and MasterCard ads since they are Champions League sponsors. I’m betting that was something that was taken into consideration and is a package requirement to show the CL sponsors for distribution. This reminds me of ESPN only being allowed to show adidas soccer commercials in certain windows during when the 2006 World Cup was going on.

    I also have an assumption about the CL distribution rights as well. In order to purchase them, I’m sure Fox had to pitch their plans for this with detailed plans of their support/technology platform, channel output (FSC, FSCe, FSN, further additions?) programming support, etc… While how much money they were shelling out for the rights versus what ESPN was paying had a LOT to do with FSC gaining rights, the other factors of expanding their infrastructure to support this and being a dedicated channel probably had a bit to do with it. If all of these other things fall together, FSC will expand it’s viewership and justify going after it. If not, they will fall on their face, and you can see ESPN scooping it back up when the contract for FSC runs out…or not.

  5. Boo-ya! This is the best news I’ve heard all day. ESPN pre-empts its soccer broadcasts too frequently for my tastes. They are an american sports broadcasting company, not a soccer broadcasting company…FSC is a soccer broadcasting company. I am much happier that these games will be well cared for by professionals. Finally!

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