Tuesday, August 28, 2007


I have used this space, in the past, to complain about the coverage of football on GolTV, one of the “full time” soccer stations here in the United States. After a fun football weekend here, I don’t want to start on GolTV yet again, but I do feel like something needs to be said.

There are a number of outlets for watching soccer on television here in the states. ABC and ESPN have occasional coverage of the MLS and the Champions League, and various regional channels (especially non-English channels) focus on leagues in Mexico, Portugal, or Italy, depending on their language and expected audience. We also have a number of channels devoted fully to football programming, including Sentanta, which airs (mostly) games from England. The best soccer channel in the U.S. is surely Fox Soccer Channel, (FSC) which airs games from England and Italy, the MLS, internationals, and friendlies, as well as other leagues and various regularly-scheduled shows dedicated to football. All-in-all, I feel FSC does a pretty good job.

Then there is GolTV. In the past I have described the poor quality of game coverage on GolTV and the difficulty of listening to some of their announcers. One thing I have found particularly galling is the fact that GolTV always announces all of the games they broadcast from a studio in the United States. FSC, in contrast, presents the same feed that viewers see in England, featuring English announcers who are at the game. (Which makes a world of difference.)

Still, I watched GolTV often because they had the rights to some very good football. In particular, they broadcast games from Italy and Spain, two of my favorite leagues. Thus I was a little concerned when I realized this summer that FSC had gained the full rights to broadcast Italian games in the United States; GolTV would not longer show them. I was concerned not because FSC now had the rights; (as I said, they do a better job than GolTV) but because I still want to have multiple all-soccer stations here in the US following the basic idea that competition will increase the quality of everyone involved.

But I am now starting to have second thoughts. After watching this first weekend, I noted that FSC’s coverage is as strong as ever. GolTV’s, meanwhile, was just as abysmal as I remember it from last season. While they broadcast games from South America and elsewhere, there is no doubt that the premier games they still own the rights to are Spain’s la Lega. When I turned in this weekend, however, to watch first the Real Madrid game and later the Barcelona game, I saw with regret both times that the international feed of the broadcast had been cancelled.

Once again, I was left unsatisfied with GolTV. At then end of the day I don’t know if the fault of this particular boner was with GolTV or their overseas partners. I did note that again today the advertised Liverpool game that was supposed to be broadcast at 2pm EST was pushed back to 3pm, regardless of what GolTV’s viewers had previously been told.

GolTV needs to be careful. They no longer have Series A from Italy. The most famous player from the one big league they have left, David Beckham, is long gone. With a greatly weakened schedule and indifferent efforts to broadcast games for their viewers, fewer and fewer football people will be watching GolTV, and soon FSC, as good as it is, will have no competition at all, and viewer in the United States will end up as the real losers.

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