If you’ve been looking for La Liga or Serie A programming on GolTV or Fox Soccer Channel, you’ve been out of luck. Upstart Al Jazeera owned network beINSport has obtained the U.S. broadcast rights for both.
The problem is beINSport is only available in the U.S.on DirecTV and Dish Network. Needless to say this has provoked much consternation among U.S. soccer viewers, especially with respect to the popular La Liga matches. To add insult to injury, U.S. World Cup qualifying away matches will also be broadcast on beINSport.
There are reports that beINSport has reached a carriage agreement with Comcast and Time Warner cable. Comcast may add the channel by September 7. I am a Verizon Fios subscriber. There is no news on that front at all. When I switched to Verizon Fios, I carefully checked their channel lineup to make sure I would have access to all the soccer channels that I watch. Now this. The European soccer season is off to a very depressing start for me, with Tottenham having started poorly and no AS Roma games available for the foreseeable future.
Apparently, the leagues involved are trying to maximize revenue ahead of visibility. This decision is already being questioned by some of the affected teams who face steep drops in visibility in the U.S. in exchange for some extra short term cash. The decision to go with beINSport seems strange in light of the recent push that Spanish and Italian clubs have been making in marketing in the U.S. Did you ever think you would be able to see Real Madrid twice in two years in Philadelphia?
It’s been clear for the past couple of years that the Qataris are trying to buy their way into the sports business. If their goal is to build up an American following for their sports programming and other broadcast products, effectively cutting off a significant portion of soccer programming for millions of viewers isn’t the way the create goodwill. Al Jazeera and beINSport are already facing an uphill battle for public opinion in the United States following the 2022 World Cup bidding process. The U.S. market is still not strong enough to support a large number of soccer broadcasters. The Qataris decision to enter the U.S. market may jeopardize the availability of the less glamorous programming that was available on GolTV, if GolTV doesn’t make it. Qatar needs to beOUT of the sports business.Twitter It!