By now, most of you as soccer fans are probably aware of recent changes on your television sets when it comes to watching soccer during this early portion of the various European seasons. Spain’s La Liga (Liga BBVA) is no longer visible on Gol TV and Italy’s Serie A is no longer carried by Fox.
The U.S. television rights for both Liga BBVA and Serie A are now owned by the new beIN Sport USA Network. The beIN Sport USA Network is owned by the Al-Jazeera Sport Media Network. Al-Jazeera is a news network based in Qatar in the Middle East which will also host the 2022 World Cup. The new channel will be available to subscribers of Comcast, DirecTV, and the DISH Network.
The beIN Sports USA Network will feature coverage of Liga BBVA, Serie A, France’s Ligue 1, and both the second division League Championship and third tier League Cup in England. The network also has the rights to upcoming USMNT road World Cup qualifying matches.
Fox Soccer Channel will still be the home of the Barclays Premier League (BPL), the UEFA Champions League and Europa League. Gol TV will feature a higher volume of games from the German Bundesliga as well a feature games from Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Mexico.
ESPN will still have there weekly BPL viewing as well as still feature MLS games in conjunction with the NBC Sports Network.
With that said, with all of the television viewing changes, is it possible that television in its role of helping to grow the sport further in this country and across the globe is now secondary to social media?
In recent years, soccer has ascended through outlets such as Twitter and Facebook maybe more than anywhere else. Social media might be the best thing to ever happen to the sport as far as expansion and awareness goes. At least here in America.
Just during the last Olympic games in London, it is has been reported that soccer was the most tweeted about sport with an estimated five million tweets throughout the entirety of the Olympic games.
During last season’s UEFA Champions League competition, the second leg of the semi-final between FC Barcelona vs. Chelsea that saw Chelsea draw with Barcelona 2-2 and win in aggregate 3-2, set a tweets per second record with 13,684 tweets per second at the game’s peak. Eclipsing the previous record set earlier this year at the Superbowl as the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots 21-17.
The European Championship final between Spain and Italy earlier this summer also set a new Twitter record.
As the television landscape continues to change and even alienates some as there is the potential for less viewership at least initially as the beIN network gradually introduces itself to the soccer television viewing public, what is most important for soccer moving forward? Is it the emphasis of television or is it social media that is key? Or is it the relationship of both?