Tonight’s highly unstable U.S. national team TV situation

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(Update: there’s more on the match itself here.)

The dealio on tonight’s World Cup qualifier in two words: Not good.

It’s pay-per-view. For a big soccer game. Or, as I said when I first started writing about this TV right kerfuffle last month: “Throw in classic Pac-Man and some cold war hysteria and its 1983 all over again.”

So the country’s second World Cup qualifier, against scrappy Guatemala inside the intense atmosphere of Estadio Nacional Mateo Flores in Guatemala City, is available for cool $29.95 a pop.

Most of your questions on how we arrived at this lowly TV place are answered here from U.S. Soccer.

Long story short, the Guatemalan federation held all the TV rights. So that country’s fed sold the English-language and Spanish-language broadcast rights to a media group middleman, which was then free to broker those rights.

U.S. Soccer, ESPN, NBC, Univision, etc., could have purchased the rights, but all deemed the asking price too steep. (If U.S. Soccer had purchased the rights, it would have sold them to a network carrier and attempted to split the expensive production costs in some type of complex media share that only people in corner offices understand.)

I wrote more about all this here as word first emerged. (This was the first you read about it; we don’t break many stories at PST, but this was one of them.)

And then I wrote about it here, when it all became official.

Here’s a U.S. Soccer generated list of a bunch of bars that will show the game. It’s not complete, but it’s a start. Check around where you live. Make friends. (Seriously, it wouldn’t hurt you to out of that sports cave a little more often, eh?)

There is a also an on-line option, which is also a $29.95 hit. I’ve never heard of this site, but here you go:  ustream.tv.

I’m not going to lie: none of this is much good.

But look at it like this: a game in Guatemala is challenging for your soccer team; think of it as an opportunity for solidarity with fans. Watching this one is going to be a challenge for you, too.