Multiple TV networks bidding for U.S. EPL rights

The race to grab the broadcast rights to the English Premier League in the United States is going to be an intense one, and there are more players involved than you might have imagined.

ESPN and Fox Soccer are trying to retain the rights they have held together for the past three years, but several new networks are vying to unseat them from that lucrative spot. New network beIN Sport is trying to and the Premier League to the Spanish Premier League, Italian Serie A and French Ligue 1 rights it already holds, while the NBC Sports Network is also in the mix, trying to add the Premier League to the MLS rights they won a year ago.

Discovery Networks is also reported to have submitted a bid.

So who are the favorites? Fox Soccer and ESPN look to have the edge on beIN Sport, with there being concerns about just how beIN Sport would be able to showcase all of its rights in an effective matter. The Sports Business Journal hinted that the NBC Sports bid was not a strong one, while the Discovery Network bid seems to be a long shot.

What do you think of this race? Who would you like to see wind up with the Premier League rights?

Share your thoughts below.

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78 Responses to Multiple TV networks bidding for U.S. EPL rights

  1. Dillon says:

    Please do not let Bein win. I would prefer ESPN to win as they don’t have a bunch of stupid channels that no one gets.

    • Iggy says:

      +1. I waited for years to get FSC in HD. I dont have Bein sport and it will probably be a while before Fios picks it up.

    • Old School says:

      I’d also be completely happy with ESPN retaining the full rights.

      That said, I think it’d be great for NBC Sports to gain rights as well. I think they’re making a strong push to be a player in the soccer community here in the States.

      With all due respect to Ives, I wouldn’t shed a tear if FSC lost the EPL rights. Their production and in studio commentary is hard to listen to.

      However: “ANBEIN” Any Network but beIN. That entire company can kiss my ass.

      • JulsZuz says:

        I definitely agree about NBC Sports. They look to be a strong promoter of soccer in the U.S. for years to come and I like their coverage, so I actually hope they win out. Although, I’d be fine if ESPN kept it as well.

      • Rory says:

        I have BeIn, but then I have all the Chanels. I want ESPN to win because everyone has it, but man what would Foxsoccer do without the EPL and how could BeIn show English, French, and Spanish soccer all on one network?

      • Sam T says:

        BeIN game broadcasting quality is sorely lacking. Do they run the cameras and editing, because it’s awful. I know they’re just starting out, but the repetition of the same few commercials for their own programs makes it look like the Messi Channel.

  2. mike says:

    seriously, this videos that start playing automatically and that I can’t stop are making me not want to come to this website. like, ever.

    • fischy says:

      I’m using my Safari browser which, for some reason, doesn’t play the automatic video ads — but you’re right about it. Those ads would be death in an office or classroom environment.

    • GSScasual says:

      then dont.. simple… just spare us of your off-topic whining.

      • CplDaniel says:

        The problem is that google-adservice misinterpreted my interest when I googled MFST….they thought I was looking for something educational and now it keeps playing the NovaScience now ad!! JK

        Keep it with Fox Soccer. I hate that I can’t rely on NBC to show soccer all the time. Fox Soccer is a good “life-style” channel that I can just keep on all the time. I hate that NBC plays 1 soccer game and then shows 22-hours of crap over the course of a day. And I hate that to get the soccer we want, pretty soon we will have to be paying for new cable channel-packages for every Fn new company that wants to take a piece of the sport, but not enough to show it all the time.

    • Ives Galarcep says:

      Mike, where on the site are you seeing a video playing automatically? I’ve only heard this from a small handful of readers, but can’t do anything about it until I know where exactly it’s showing up. I’m not getting auto-play videos when I launch the site.

      • Shane says:

        I get the video too and there is no option to stop it like you usually have. It’s right under key soccer sites and is a demo ad against some congressman. I just mute my computer. Hope you are getting some dosh for it Ives because it is annoying

      • Raymon says:

        It’s ads, on the right side Ives. Almost always below the fold, so your readers can get surprised by some annoying voice or music before they even see where the ad is playing.

      • bryan says:

        i just got my first one under the first listing of “Key Soccer Sites” to the right. yes, “key to soccer sites” is listed twice. i also cannot get it to stop. it’s been going for over 2-3 minutes now. it’s talking about a glacier scraping New York clean…lol

        and like others have said, no option to stop it. in fact, sometimes i can’t even see the video. it’s weird.

      • jeff says:

        It is an ad playing on the main web page and also in your sub pages. It is an ad that comes on where the video should be playing, but you can’t stop it.

      • John says:

        I have been getting it since the site updated. The video starts in an ad between Key Soccer Sites and Top Soccer News Sites. I usually mute the political ad that I get and let it run. It is currently a safecount.net survey ad that is not showing video.

      • PJ says:

        Same place for me, and I can’t press pause or mute. It comes up about half the time. Last time I wanted to see how long it lasted, and it went for 12 minutes before I just closed the tab,

        • I usually have the audio on mute so didn’t notice this at first, but I let the audio on after watching some of the soccer videos, and yep, got sound that came on even before the ad loaded (just where the others hae said). But once I clicked off the main page to this one, the sound is no longer there.

          Hope you can fix this problem — other than that I really like the new site, and this is a great article about the MNT and JK.

      • Brian says:

        Yep, on the right between “Key Soccer Sites” and “Top Soccer News Sites.” You can turn the sound off but you cannot keep it from streaming ads non-stop. Screen shot added

        link to i49.tinypic.com

        • Sam R. says:

          I’m getting the video in the same place as Brian shows in his screen shot. Would be great to get that taken away especially when I’m reading the site at work. Rest of the website looks good Ives!

      • bill says:

        I agree with the comments about the annoying audio on the adverts. STill getting used to the new site. All in all, it’s pretty good. An improvement.

        • Bluenblack says:

          Ditto here. When at home, the inability to stop the ad is not as bad. At work, that’s a different story. SBI is what keeps me sane in the workplace sometimes.

          BTW, I use Safari at home and Chrome at work.

        • Anthony says:

          Ditto to the above — auto-play ad in the same spot as mentioned.

        • meowmix says:

          Yeah the new site is well designed, but the video adds are driving me crazy. Rather than visiting ten times a day, it’s only about 5 now.

      • cj says:

        I get the auto video on CPU here in san diego. On my phone I never do, usually a political ad.

      • azgeezer says:

        Every time I open Soccer by Ives on Firefox the video starts playing automatically

      • 20 says:

        I see this video too Ives

  3. Raymon says:

    On this one, I favor the incumbents. NBC a distant 3rd. BeIn, fuhgedaboutit!

  4. funkyb says:

    unless bein sport suddenly gets the carriage fox soccer and espn do (and unless it’s the same level as fox soccer, not something to pay extra for like fs+ or gol tv), fox and espn have to keep it or it’s a goddamn disaster for the premier league on american television. bein would be a disaster.

    • Lee says:

      And….I don’t mean to sound ignorant, but I hate it that the Spanish and Italian leagues have been taken away by beIN sports, as too many of them aren’t in ENGLISH!

  5. Werd says:

    “Walcott and Rooney in MMA fight. It’s obvious which one has the bigger huevo.”

  6. Redneck says:

    I hate to simply support the status quo, but my vote would go for ESPN or FOX. Our cable company doesn’t even offer beIN. And I doubt that NBC could pull it off.

    • Nytshade says:

      I’m not sure if NBC Sports wouldn’t do better than Fox Soccer. Remember, it’s Fox Soccer, not Fox’s flagship channel. While the main channel can pick up the big games, most will still air on Fox Soccer which holds considerably fewer households than NBC Sports, if memory serves right. That was the whole reason MLS went with NBC Sports, was to get a greater audience base compared to the higher bid offered by Fox Soccer. Just my 2 cents.

  7. Josh says:

    ESPN has been doing a great job covering the US National Team, and their premier league games in the morning are great too. Fox Soccer is dying, they lost MLS rights, and the quality of the premier league coverage isn’t good. ESPN has a bigger influence on Sports in America and for them to get the premier league will further expand the sport in this country.

    • THomas says:

      They won the 2018 and 2022 World Cup rights and have the EPL still. I agree though that not being able to get FoxSoccer in HD is a joke. I wish ESPN had all rights for all soccer, but hopefully getting the World Cup will step up Fox’s efforts.

      • Ryan says:

        You may be able to get fox soccer in HD. For a long time I cursed comcast because they didn’t carry it and one day I randomly found it well hidden at channel 1615 which I didn’t even know they went that high.

  8. Mario in QT says:

    I consider myself an original on SBI but those on going video commercials are beginning to wear thin.

    • meowmix says:

      Agreed. There is a limit to the annoyance factor you can put on a site before it starts driving people away

      • Rory says:

        I usually have a ton of windows open and I kept wondering what page runs ads…. That’s the reason I left ESPN soccernet a while ago

  9. Heft says:

    NBC has been impressive with their MLS coverage as well as their variety sports shows. I would like to see more then just one corporation bring the BPL to the US.

    ESPN, NBC, and and the more common sports networks are preferable.

  10. Matt says:

    beIN apparently has no plans of making any of their coverage available online so eff them.

    ESPN makes games available on ESPN3.com and Fox Soccer at least has foxsoccer2go.com even if all the games I want to watch either aren’t on there or aren’t available to watch in replay until some ungodly hour of the night.

    Someday I hope to actually be able to watch the EPL online (I don’t own a TV) without sketchy ads popping up every few minutes in the background. Someday.

    • THomas says:

      The reason you have to watch certain games at 11:59pm at night on FoxSoccer2Go.com is because they aired live that day on FoxSoccerChannel. I have both FSC and FoxSoccer2Go.com so it doesn’t affect me, but before I did it was certainly frustrating.

  11. Mysterious J says:

    How could Fox Soccer Channel POSSIBLY afford to lose this?

    • Bobb says:

      Losing the Premier League would put FSC on a death spiral similar to GolTV losing La Liga. They MUST win it, or they may have to sell their World Cup rights.

  12. somedude says:

    Discovery Networks FTW. I have no idea what that is.

    • JScott says:

      I assume this is The Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, etc. However, that does not make it any less of a head scratcher. Shark Week is great and all but do any of these channels cover any sports? Unless they are about to do a major rebranding, this bid is right out of left field.

  13. Gnarls 2.0 says:

    Any network other than BeIN. It simply does not have the distribution to be a fair choice.

    I hope NBC gets the bid. They’ve demonstrated a commendable commitment to MLS already. Given the popularity of the EPL, I imagine there would be even more quality programming on NBC Sports and NBC proper.

    In a perfect world, the rights would be split between several networks so that consumers receive the most coverage. I’d love to see NBC, ESPN and Fox all carry several games per weekend.

    • 20 says:

      Agree 100%. I’m so disappointed that BeIN is getting the rights to all these leagues when most people (in my area anyway) don’t get it. It’s just not fair. I don’t know if it is their fault or the fault of the networks.

      And I also agree with your second point. The more networks have rights the more games we see, so I hope ESPN and Fox Soccer continue and I hope NBC picks up some of the games Fox isn’t showing.

  14. Shane says:

    Have to favor Fox since they do replays. ESPN, NBC wont. I like having soccer on all the time.

    • Spank says:

      That’s a great point but if ESPN happens to win i would hope that they would create their own soccer specific channel maybe call it ESPNFC? That way it would basically be Fox Soccer but probably better. Then they could replay games all day and provide soccer only news. I can only hope

      • Soccer Rules says:

        ESPN will never create a Soccer channel. And even if they did, they would talk about American Football all day because that is what they currently do regardless of what sport you may be watching on any of their channels. I like FSC because I know I will get to watch Soccer when I turn on that channel.

        • Gnarls 2.0 says:

          I wouldn’t say never. ESPN is the “trendy bandwagoner” of sports networks. They have no particular dedication to anything other than what makes money. And as a network, that’s to be expected. Tangentially speaking, they created the X Games so that they could capitalize on “extreme sports” like 20 years after skating and BMX started to grow in popularity.

          If and when soccer’s popularity reaches critical mass in the US, I would not be at all surprised to see “ESPN FC” or something like that.

    • AK says:

      Wooow…very nice point with the replays sir. Hadn’t ever thought ’bout that (nor has anyone else, judging by the comments). FOX it is.

  15. bryan says:

    while i don’t have a problem with beIN Sports. they need to chill out. they can’t possibly show enough games from each league on TWO channels.

  16. Randy says:

    Here it is, Ives:

    link to t.co

  17. Jon says:

    I like the current coverage. Would be nice if the EPL could force ESPN (or FSC) to keep the Monday games on TV somewhere. If it doesn’t involve the top 6, ESPN usually shoves those to online only. And ESPN can’t show online replays of EPL games, so I can’t watch later as I do with games on the DVR.

  18. OPMG says:

    My vote is for ESPN and Fox only because ESPN does a great job with the online viewing experience and you basically get a DVR selection of replays to watch. That’s especially convenient given the time differences beween USA and Europe.

  19. Travis says:

    For the sake of soccer in America, beINsports better not win. That would be a death blow.

  20. Paddy Megroyn says:

    BeIN has the most money so don’t bet against them on winning it. If they succeed, they’ll add another channel to handle it all of their leagues and the cable companies will have to start carrying them or they’ll lose customers.

  21. RYan says says:

    If BeIn sports get the rights thats truly a sad day. I hope they lose rights to la liga. Espn and NBC need to own the rights to all the soccer leagues. FSC really has terrible coverage the only thing i like on that channel is fox soccer report and even that has changed.

  22. Bluenblack says:

    Well, I find myself in a strange place with watching soccer. I used to have cable and was able to see every match I wanted to from international, MLS and Euro leagues.

    So what do I do now? I rely on websites like SBI as well as the less than, um, legal options on the internet. I stream various video services on my PS3. While I know it will likely never happen, how I wish someone would offer a streaming subscription services. In a perfect world, I would be able to subscribe to Premiership and MLS games without blackout restrictions.

    • Josh says:

      Fox soccer has fox soccer 2go, which is a great subscription service if you don’t mind paying $20/month. I don’t have cable, and I depend on FS2go. Thus I would be very disappointed if they lost to Bein.

      • Bluenblack says:

        Thanks, Josh. I will look into it. I hope they are compatible with my PS3 so I can watch while lounging on the sofa. Otherwise, hooking up my laptop to my TV will suffice. Cheers.

  23. US Fan says:

    I’d be happy to see it on ESPN or Foxsoccer. I don’t want any of my money going to BEiN sports. Owned by Al Jazeera. No Thank you. Soccer Fan and American.

  24. Archibald says:

    Not sure about ESPN, they continue to put Little League Baseball, Poker, Ping Ball etc. ahead of Professional Football (Soccer).

  25. Rob Walden says:

    There’s no question that the current ESPN/Fox Soccer arrangement is the best possible scenario for maximizing fan exposure and providing as many games as possible to as many fans as possible. ESPN provides one or two games a week on basic cable to satisfy casual fans, and more dedicated fans of the league can see 4-6 more games each week by upgrading to a mid-level sports tier that carries FSC.

    I have a hard time seeing how fans would benefit more from any if the alternatives. The case against beIN is already well-documented in this thread. It is not available on most cable providers and is an expensive channel to acquire when it is an option. Plus it already seemed to have more available games than airspace to give them.

    The folks that think an ESPN-exclusive deal would be preferable must not follow college sports very closely. There’s no way ESPN is decreasing their college football coverage from September-December or their college basketball coverage from December-March to show EPL games. The only way the EPL fits on ESPN’s crowded schedule now is by having an early Saturday game that ends before noon ET football knockoffs and a Monday game that falls during monotonous afternoon talk shows.

    NBC Sports is the one alternative that could potentially go all in and provide the same amount of coverage that FSC currently offers. They do show some Saturday college sports but most of it starts after the EPL finishes. Still, I’m not sure that it is an upgrade in the exposure department, as NBCSN is rarely on basic cable tiers.

    Discovery, I mean, what track record do they have showing major sporting events?

    There is only one way ESPN or beIN acquiring FAC’s current share make it easier for fans to tune in: if they are planning to add an additional soccer-specific channel that would be located on FSC’s current tier on all cable providers.

  26. slowleftarm says:

    My vote is for FSC. If you also have FSC Plus, you can watch 6-7 games live each weekend from the Premier League. Absolutely no way that is possible on ESPN (unless you enjoy watching on a computer, which I don’t). I prefer for ESPN to have some MLS games and the national team because it helps raise the profile of the game. But here we’re talking about a different kind of soccer fan – the kind who are getting up at 7:30 on a Saturday morning to watch soccer. I think with them, it’s more important to have more games and a dedication to soccer.

    At the end of the day, if there’s some SEC football game on at the same time as the Manchester derby for example, you know what ESPN will be showing.

  27. The Imperative Voice says:

    I don’t want beIN to win because it’s a distributional joke. It’s like handing the rights to Setanta.

    If Fox wins the rights I think it puts them in a strong spot because, MLS and continental leagues aside, they are starting to accumulate important rights, UEFA CL CONCACAF CL, WC, etc. Now, their production values often stink, so I wouldn’t mind ESPN or NBC. But ESPN’s soccer contribution is overrated and eroding. They don’t have the 2018 and 2022 WCs, they have one EPL and one MLS game, and they just got beat to the WCQ road games. So as long as beIN doesn’t get it, I like the competition.

    Discovery Communications distributes BBC America. It actually makes sense. They show the odd rugby game once in a while and though I like some of their shows, rerun enough stuff where room is likely not a problem. But I’m not sure what BBC America’s reach is, and in my town they are not HD. I don’t even know if BBC America HD exists. So I’d be interested if that’s a factor.

    • USAHammerFan says:

      BBC America is in HD on Dish and Direct TV and I have viewed it at others houses on Comcast. But, I doubt EPL ends up with discovery properties ever.

  28. nickp says:

    if Fox manages to hold off Al Jazeera’s expected bid for the US rights to English Premier League games perhaps Fox Sports 1 could gain a package of early Saturday or Sunday morning matches with the rest going to Fox Sports 2.

  29. tomo says:

    I prefer FSC PLEASE!
    I have both channels and I’m able to watch all the EPL games I want. yesterday I woke up early just to watch a game at 4:45am. FSC and FSC+ were showing the games all morning long . I don’t mind ESPN but they are not football friendly all the time and never start on time.

    when they were showing the world Herbalife soccer challenge between real Madrid and AC Milan, they went over the first half with little league baseball. I was so mad!!

    if NBC gets it, I hope theymake a channel. actually any of other networks should make a football specific if they acquire the rights to the EPL.

    I hate beIN for acquiring the rights to La Liga. as of now they cannot even handle the current leagues they have. a lot of the games were replays and NOT live :( what also sucks about them is that even though I have their HD channel I do not get their Spanish channel, whichmakes no sense because I’m paying for the extra sports package already, it should come with it!

    I wish directv would just make a EPL and La Liga package like how they do with mls, nhl, uefa,etc… a series of channels that are showing the games live and you can choose which one you want to watch or watch all of them through the DirecTV sports mix.

    I really miss GOLTV