The most likely affected fans are those of Spain’s BBVA Liga, Italy’s Serie A, France’s Ligue 1 and England’s Championship. It also affects the millions of Messi / Barcelona and Cristiano Ronaldo / Real Madrid fans.
The competition for the recent cycle of media rights for these top leagues has brought about some massive change to the soccer broadcasting landscape in America. Sports broadcasters like Fox Sports, ESPN and GolTV could only watch in disbelief as beIN Sport intentionally blew all competing bids out of the water.
beIN Sport is owned and financed by Qatar Sports Investment which is owned by Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa – the Emir of Qatar – with a net worth of a reported $2.5 billion. It looks like the Sheik gets what the Sheik wants...
The concern here is not that beIN Sport has acquired all these media rights, but that the channel is not widely available in the USA as it is new. As of 15 August 2012, the date of their official launch, beIN Sport is only available on DirecTV and DISH satellite platforms. No deal has been made yet with any of the major cable providers such as Comcast Corp, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, AT&T, Inc., Verizon FiOS and the rest.
So if you are not on DISH or DirecTV, you will likely be affected at the very least for the beginning of the season. Ultimately, it may result in significant reduction of brand exposure to the US audience, which will hurt the prestige of these leagues, clubs, players and associated advertisers.
The following is the list of league availability on TV as of the start of the 2012-13 season:
2012-13 Serie A – Italy - USA TV & Media Rights – awarded to beIN Sport exclusively for all live English and Spanish Language broadcasts in the USA. This change leaves a big unfilled gap for ESPN and FOX Soccer as it relates to fans of Italian soccer. RAI Internazionale will be offering select live matches in Italian language in the USA & Canada.
2012-13 BBVA Liga, & Copa del Rey - Spain - USA TV & Media Rights – awarded to beIN Sport exclusively for all live English and Spanish Language broadcasts in the USA. This is a major push into the league that captures the imagination of most US Hispanic fans as FC Barcelona and Real Madrid run rampant with their superstars - Messi & Co and Cristiano Ronaldo & Co. This shift leaves a massive gap at ESPN and GolTV for Spanish club soccer. It will likely draw a significant portion of a Hispanic audience to beIN Sport.
2012-13 Championship – England - USA TV & Media Rights – awarded to beIN Sport in the USA. This move likely signals the network’s intention of bidding for the English Premier League, whose 2013-16 Media Rights Cycle will be up for grabs this autumn. Fox Soccer will be watching this spot closely. (as of the first match day, no live matches for the Championship have been broadcast)
2012-13 Ligue 1 – France – USA TV & Media Rights - awarded to beIN Sport exclusively for all live English Language broadcasts in the USA. Spanish Language broadcasts have been awarded to newcomer Univision Deportes.
2014 South American 2014 World Cup Qualifiers - awarded exclusively to beIN Sport for all Spanish and English Language broadcasts in the USA.
2012-13 MX Liga – Mexico – TV & Media rights awarded to Univision, Telefutura, Univision Deportes and Univision Deportes 2, Fox Deportes, ESPN Deportes.
2012-13 Argentina, Brazilian and Mexican Liga Ascension will be available on GolTV. Due to the loss of La Liga rights, GolTV will be looking towards tailoring live coverage of South American football to the US Hispanic population.
2012-13 Scottish Premier League – will be available on Fox Soccer Plus and FoxSoccer2Go.
2012-13 Liga Zon Sagres – Portugal – will be available on SportTV Americas as well as on ESPN3.
2012-13 Bundesliga – Germany – USA TV rights awarded to GolTV and MGTV+ on Dish.
There will be little change to the live coverage of the English Premier League, UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League this season, as the TV Rights cycle is only up in May 2013.
The 2012-13 UEFA Champions League multi-platform media rights were awarded to Fox Sports Media Group (Fox Soccer, Fox Soccer Plus, Fox Deportes) for the US and Caribbean). Fox Sports will likely sub-license rights to DirecTV due to the multiple matches broadcast on each match day.
The 2012-13 UEFA Europa league edition will be shared between ESPN Deportes and Fox Soccer. Fox Sports will likely sub-license rights to DirecTV due to the multiple matches broadcast on each match day.
The 2012-13 English Premier League season will be widely available for US fans as the rights will be split between Fox Soccer Channel, Fox Soccer Plus, Fox Deportes, FoxSoccer2GO, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and ESPN3. Audio broadcasts of EPL matches will be available on TalkSport globally - available for free on their website - registration is required.
In Canada English broadcasts will be available on TSN, Sportsnet, Sportsnet One, Sportsnet World and French broadcasts on RDS.
The 2012 MLS season will be available across multiple US and Canadian Network. It will be available on Galavision, MLS Direct Kick and NBC Sports Network, TSN, RDS, TVA Sports and MLS Live.
Note: This article was revised on August 19, 2012.
The purpose of this post is intended to highlight the upcoming changes in the Soccer broadcast landscape for the USA. Updates will be made to this article as per the availability of new information and sub-licensing agreements.