BeIN is a spanking new property – but one that certainly is shaking up the establishment order when it comes to soccer on TV in the United States. (Otherwise known as a little place we call Shangri-La .)
The Al-Jazeera offshoot scored big today with the announcement (first reported by the Washington Post’s Steven Goff) that it would be the TV outlet for the United States’ Sept. 7 World Cup qualifier vs. Jamaica in Kingston.
The bigger news in today’s announcement is that BeIN has secured the rights to all other U.S. qualifiers away from home in the run-up for World Cup 2014 (except games in Mexico). That’s huge.
So, next up following the Sept. 7 date on BeIN: the U.S. contest vs. Antigua & Barbuda on Oct. 12 from Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua.
There’s still a significant mystery and misinformation factor about it all. So, let’s back-and-forth this thing for a minute:
Where is BeIN on my cable system?:
It’s not. Not yet. Currently, BeIN is available on DirecTV and DISH Network. They are negotiating with major cable carriers – but that can be an uphill slog for upstart networks. You can hold your breath, but I wouldn’t advise it.
What else is BeIN carrying?:
Spain’s La Liga, Italy’s Serie A and France’s Ligue 1 for starters. And that’s a pretty high stack of quality “starters.” Also, World Cup qualifiers from South America and Barca TV, which is exactly what it sounds like, the official TV channel for Catalan giant Barcelona FC.
Is Fox Soccer Channel showing some slippage in all this?:
They still have some English Premier League rights and domestic Champions League rights, and a bit of this and that from lands here and beyond. So, while FSC is certainly being threatened by the new kid of the TV block, they are hardly out of the fight just yet.
Why is BeIN’s announcement good news for September’s qualifier?
Long story short, you were probably looking at pay-per-view otherwise. This way, most bars and restaurants will have access to the game. You, too, if you have that big dishy thing poking up off your roof and the right sports package. (Or, how about that swell neighbor you’ve been meaning to get to know better? You know, the one with the dish?) That’s something, at least.
Why does U.S. Soccer make it so hard to be a red-shirted fan of this doggone team?
I know it is always a hoot to beat on the fed, but this stuff is out of their hands. Yes, these games would be more accessible if they landed on good ol’ ESPN, but that’s not the way it works. Host federations hold all the rights-fees cards. So, games in Jamaica will be brokered by the Jamaican federation. Games in Guatemala by the Guatemalan fed, etc.
Those feds don’t give two eagle feathers about whether U.S. audiences have easy access to matches from their land. Rights go to the highest bidder.
Who will call the games?
Longtime broadcaster Phil Schoen was first man into the BeIN pool. He was followed by Ray Hudson in a further raid on GolTV talent. Ian Joy will also soon be officially on board.
I know BeIN stands as an inconvenient truth right now. Heck, I have AT&T Uverse, so I feel your pain. But in the long run, more outlets competing for soccer, and more soccer on TV generally, is a blessed thing. English-language outlets now in the game: NBC Sports Network, ESPN, FSC, GolTV and BeIN Sports. And that’s not to mention all the Spanish-language broadcasts on Telefutura, Univision, Galavision, ESPN Deportes, Fox Deportes, etc.