FOX & Football

Once again FOX is promoting its English Premier League coverage as part of its Sunday sports package.  The network is offering a high profile match-up (Arsenal/Manchester United) on the FOX mother ship as part of the lead-up to the network’s live broadcast of the NFC Championship.   As we have reported, the network has seen great ratings from its re-broadcasts of the EPL and the live telecasts promises to generate an even larger audience.  FOX’s broadcast of Liverpool’s 2-1 defeat of Chelsea on Nov. 20  delivered a 1.1 household rating, with 1.67 million total viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.  Two weeks after the January 22 match on Championship Sunday,  the network will offer live coverage of Chelsea and Manchester United as part of the lead-up to its Superbowl telecast.

Following its successful record bid for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups, FOX is certainly reaffirming its committment to the beautiful game.  What this means for Major League Soccer remains an open question.  MLS and FOX severed ties at the end of 2011 with NBC stepping in as the league’s second broadcast partner.  Commissioner Garber has repeatedly stated that he remains engaged with FOX and that league relationships with its former broadcast partner remain strong.  However, the network’s devotion to the EPL certainly can be considered cause for concern for the domestic league.  If FOX becomes the leader among US networks in delivering soccer, it will hurt MLS to be detached from that entity.  However, NBC and ESPN are still powerful names in American sports broadcasting and the league has at least three years of a financially beneficial relationship with both organizations.

For now, it will be interesting to see what efforts FOX makes to promote its EPL  coverage.  The NFL pre-game studio will likely promote the match aggressively.  The network will also use its in-game opportunities during NFL telecasts to pump the EPL.  Will EPL advertisements pop up during prime time FOX broadcasts?

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5 Responses

  1. Serious question I asked here before I don’t believe I received an answer. Are those ratings actually good? They sound good but wouldn’t you expect the rating of anything Fox aired during that time slot to draw at least 1.1? For example what is the average rating for that time slot during the NFL season?

  2. I haven’t been able to find any ratings for Sunday afternoons, but my impression is that the lack of precedent. No one has before run tape-delayed, foreign professional soccer games counter to the NFL. This is probably more about establishing the Fox Soccer brand than it is about ratings.

    The worst sign for MLS, in my opinion is a tape-delayed EPL game out-drawing the MLS Cup Final this year:
    http://content.usatoday.com/communities/gameon/post/2011/11/tv-ratings-foxs-taped-british-soccer-tops-mls-title-game/1
    However, it is was noting that it was network vs cable, and the MLS game was counter a much higher profile NFL game.

  3. My thought on this has always been that no matter what you show in the Fox slot either before or after an NFL game is going to get a 1.1 rating. Doesn’t matter what it is. That is the floor of the rating for Fox on a Sunday afternoon.

    If MLS Cup was on Fox in that same time slot it probably would have drawn a 1.1 or slightly better. Comparing cable to network in completely different time slots is a comparison not worth making. I honestly don’t think this “outdrawing” in ratings of MLS Cup Final means anything.

    Any demographic break downs on that 1.1 rating for the Fox games? I’d be curious to see how it breaks down.

  4. Good questions and good responses. The upcoming game will be itneresting because there will be no NFL lead-in. I don’t believe that FOX would get a 1.1 share on a random Sunday Afternoon without sports, but it is an interesting question.

    ManU has a certain amount of cache even for non-soccer fans,

  5. If the EPL is seen as a solid revenue source, I think that would benefit MLS. Whenever a league starts to establish itself, dollars (or Euros) start to flow to competing leagues as investors try to get in on the action. Think American League and National League (early 1900s), NFL & AFL (60′s), ABA and NBA etc. If EPL becomes a hot sports property, those that are left out will seek their own soccer property – and it could be MLS (or La Liga).

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