Remember when ESPN was making a serious run to get soccer into their programming? It wasn’t too long ago there were even talks of turning ESPN Poker Classic into an ESPN 3 with a big focus on covering the beautiful game. Well that seems to have been shot down emphatically. Not only did ESPN not win a single package for rights to the Barclays Premier League, they have LOST the rights to the UEFA Champions League.
Initially the report was broken from Foxsports.com writer Jamie Trecker, who used his twitter account to tell us the news. It has since been taken down (assumingly) upon the request of his employers. The Run of Play provided update after update with conflicting reports. Other blogs said FSC denied the report, they even took down a twitter post from Fox Soccer Report’s Jeremy St. Louis stating they had won the rights.
AT LONG LAST though, Unprofessional Foul came through with the confirmation that Fox Soccer Channel had snatched away Champions League rights beginning in the 2010-11 campaign.
If ESPN had made a push for soccer, then that just ended. What this means is that they can’t touch European club competition at all, because FSC retained their UEFA Europa League rights long ago.
ESPN now only has MLS, FIFA tournaments (like the upcoming Confederations Cup), and Euro 2012 in their grasp as things stand. They had a chance to get the Premier League as well as keep the UEFA CL and instead threw away both.
In all honesty, I really don’t like FSC getting the rights. When they produce any broadcast it is amateurish, the commentators suck, and most of the time they’re commentating from their Los Angeles studios.
Have you ever listened to Max Bretos commentate on a European match? Look at the tape…
Don’t mess this up, FSC. It’s bad enough that I’ll have to go to digital cable to watch most of my European footy, so do the right thing and use ANYONE but your own commentators.
As for ESPN, disappointing, but not surprising. The one event they covered well in the UEFA CL they give away to a channel that have an obsession with airing Proactive commercials. Do you want soccer or not? My impression says now you don’t.