Fox Soccer may soon be no more. News Corp is considering converting the channel, a fixture for EPL fans in the U.S. since its inception, into an entertainment subsidiary of FX. Without the rights to a domestic league, at home or abroad, maintaining an all-soccer network makes little sense.
NBC outbid Fox and ESPN for the EPL rights beginning next season, adding to the MLS rights it already has. Upstart beIN Sport owns the rights to both the Spanish Primera Liga and Italian Serie A. The prime soccer inventory Fox does have, the Champions League and the 2018 and 2022 World Cups (along with USMNT and USWNT during those cycles), would be more valuable as supplements for Fox’s planned national sports network Fox Sports 1.
Network shuffling won’t affect fans, presuming distribution gets worked out in a timely fashion. What’s unclear is the affect on the sport’s long-term growth potential. ESPN promotion has been a primary reason for European soccer penetrating the mainstream in the U.S. The WWL will be out of the game after Euro 2016, with no strong incentive to get back in it. FOX will have the World Cups and USMNT and USWNT rights, but no consistent soccer programming to plug with them.
[Photo via Getty]