Catch the stream

It took me a few weeks but I finally noticed that not only do I not get the channels that the Champions League games are broadcast on but I don’t get any of the Champions League games through my cable package. If this had been an Arsenal match, I would have almost certainly found another way to watch, but as it was just Champions League, I simply chalked it up to “not being on TV this week”. Admittedly, this only proves that I’m not that into Champions League matches.

That said, after a few tries and some looking around, I started to wonder why my cable service, Xfinity, wasn’t carrying Champions League. As my USA readers know, Champions League and Europa League rights were bought by Fox. Up until last year Fox split their broadcasts among three services: FS1 and FS2 which were broadcast channels and Fox Sports to Go which was an online service. This year, however, they are only broadcasting the Champions League on FS2 and their online service is now just part of your cable television package.

That turns out to be the problem: Xfinity doesn’t carry FS2. What’s going on here is that Fox is trying to force carriers like Xfinity to pay top price for their FS2 content and Xfinity has refused. I’m not really blaming one mega-corp over the other for this – they are both just doing what capitalist companies do. Instead, I like to think that Xfinity is saving me from having to watch the Fox Soccer half-time show, the Fox Soccer pre-game show, and any in-game commentary. To paraphrase Hitchhikers Guide “It’s a lucky escape for the Arsenal (fans).”

The good news is that Fox will no longer be hosting Champions League/Europa League matches after this season. Turner has bought the rights to all 280 matches starting in the 2018/19 season. The bad news is that Turner is going to spin off many of those matches into a streaming online (pay) service.

NBCsn has done something similar this season and many of these sports broadcast companies are doing the same with a bunch of their content. I don’t think this is going to be successful, however. The problem is that the majority of sports fans already pay close to (or more than) $100 a month for cable. Plus another $50 a month for internet. Plus then we have Netflix and Amazon.

I’m like a lot of other fans in that the only reason I have cable at all is for the sports. Turner will still be broadcasting four games a week through my cable. If Turner thinks they can get another $10 a month out of me to watch a few games a year, which they are deliberately putting behind a paywall, they are sorely mistaken. I think the vast majority of sports fans will watch these games over illegal streaming services rather than pay a special monthly fee to see their team via the official stream.

If you give me an option to just buy Premier League, Bundesliga, Serie A, and Champions League matches, and I could get them all streamed onto my television in high def, like Netflix does, I would be willing to pay for that. I would cut my cable. But these companies like Turner are caught between two worlds: the cable world which still forms the base of their income and wanting to exploit this new streaming world.

I have seen many sports streaming services come and go over the years. Even maintaining cable television broadcasts seems difficult, we had several of them simply go bankrupt over my 20 years of watching soccer on television in America. Maybe Turner will find the magic formula next season, but my guess is that they won’t.

It’s a bit funny because us viewers here in America are at least partly to blame for the recent influx of investors, the huge money television contracts in the Premier League, the distortion of the Premier League into the most expensive club competition in the world, and the dismantling of the traditional, local, culture around these sports teams. We got it for free for years, while all that took place and we just watched from afar, cheering on the record signings, and now we are being asked to pay for it.

For today, Arsenal will be on FS2 and on ESPN3. I think I get ESPN3 as part of my cable package, though it is en Español.

Qq

14 comments

  1. Tim, there’s a solution. This works for me:

    1. Get high speed internet only from whatever provider you choose. I pay $40 for high speed internet. I live in an expensive metro area; it may be cheaper in other places.

    2. Get Sling’s $25 package. Gives you a fair few of the Xfinity channels, and a few you won’t get. Includes NBC Sports, but not all the channels which Prem games are on. You’ll get some not all, but you will get FS1 and 2. You can also get a free Roku with it, meaning you can watch on your TV as well as other devices.

    3. Ask a friend with Xfinity if you can share his or her account for games that you don’t have channels to. A good friend will agree; a less good friend may agree for a small fee, like 10 a month.

    4. All other games, stream from elsewhere or download later.

    65ish a month, including FS2. Works for me.

      1. A website/forum, two syllables, first is the first colour of the rainbow, second rhymes with ‘fit’.

        There is a sub there called football downloads or something.

        There are other places too, but that’s been reliable recently.

  2. Been away for a while, so belatedly on Margarette’s appeal…

    Did not do PayPal, but have given to Dominica relief efforts from Trinidad, where I’ve lived these past 2 years. Also opening my doors to anyone who needs a room fora few months.

    It’s awful, and Barbuda, if anything, is in worse shape. Do what you can, please.

    Here in T&T we have had nasty rainy weather and non-stop flash flooding now deep into October, but we are too far south to get the hurricanes.

    I hope that things improve soon, Margarette.

  3. Fubo.com offers an 80-channel package including NBCSN, FS1, FS2, Bein Sports and Fox Soccer Plus (which is a $15/mo. add-on to most cable packages) for and intro rate of $19.99/mo. — rising to $44.99 after trial period.
    Includes some over-the air networks, among them Univision/Unimas — Spanish channels which carry MLS, Liga MX and much international competition, sometimes with English audio available. These channels were recently dropped from my local FIOS package.

  4. All the best to those still suffering in the Caribbean islands and T & T. Many happy memories from “limin with Trinis” back in the day.

    Watching the Europa League match right now and in case no one has noticed, I’d just like to point out that WE SUCK.

  5. Not three times in a million will you see a grown man fall on his arse and produce a result like that. But, hey… nine points in three games, so…

  6. Another incredible Play Station goal from Giroud and Wilshire (THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!) doesn’t erase our suckiness throughout the whole game. It took a man advantage and a crazy goal to do it.

  7. I mean, that lineup was crazy. Everyone out of position was crazy. Debuchy still around was crazy. I’m surprised we weren’t more threatened tbh.

    And I totally get it and agree. More rest for all our bigger names is all that matters for now. If we win our next game, we can even rest this lot and play the under 7s if we wanted to.

  8. This 2nd team Arsenal with a makeshift back line should have won this game coasting, no disrespect to Red Star whatsoever. But the gulf at least on paper is too obvious not to acknowledge. And they came close to a famous win against us as they hit corner frame and made Cech earn his keep through the game, so full marks to them.

    But us? We should all chant “Na na na hey hey hey Giroud”. A Gallic saint, who can be so average but can score such incredible goals is fleeting moments of brilliance.

    How happy should we be that he stuck around? VERY.

  9. Hope you watched it on ESPN3 in Spanish. The in-game commentary by Lalas and some other idiot on FS2 was stunningly inane. I had to mute the sound because their pointless wittering was so distracting. That spoilt the game a bit.

  10. On Lalas and the other idiot: I thought I heard in the first half the other idiot say “Elneny with another surging run forward”

    Except this was actually Reiss Nelson. I don’t know if anyone caught this. At first I was kind of perplexed then realized their hair looks sort of similar and realized the other idiot was really a hugely incompetent idiot

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