Tuesday, April 25, 2006

How to cope without British TV and Radio: Football Supplement

Another post by Mark:

In the first of my posts in the series How to cope without British TV and Radio (see also Part 2 and Part 3), I included a paragraph about football:

If you are a football fan, there's a whole channel devoted to it even on the basic cable packages. It's called Fox Soccer Channel and broadcasts a lot of live premiership football. One of my staples has become the 5 pm GMT (12 pm ET here) live match every Saturday. In fact, I am now watching more premiership football on American TV than I was on UK TV, because you have to subscribe specially to Sky TV for the live Premiership stuff in the UK. Fox Soccer Channel gives you the Sky commentary, but overlays it with an American introduction, which always refers to the "“EPL" (English Premier League), "soccer" and "game" (never "“match"”), e.g. they have a "player of the game"”.

One minor correction to that post: you don't get FSC (Fox Soccer Channel) with "even . . . the basic cable packages"; it tends to be a part of what they call "America's Top 180" Channels, but not "America's Top 60" or "America's Top 120", so usually you'll need a slightly more expensive package. Another additional comment: FSC also provides some coverage of the FA Cup. At the weekend, we had one of the semi-finals live, Middlesborough v. West Ham.

Lately, though, our attention has begun to turn to the World Cup, and we began to wonder about who was providing the coverage here in the USA, not least given that FSC were showing only limited signs of excitement about it. It turns out that all 64 matches are to be covered by ABC Sports and ESPN, as Viola mentioned, including even ESPN High Definition, if you have that. I've not fully got on top of what is what with American satellite and cable, but it certainly looks like ESPN and ESPN2 are on basic packages, so to get the World Cup you don't even have to have an expensive package.

What I hadn't realized until looking for details about the World Cup on the telly was that ESPN and ESPN 2 also sometimes broadcast other football matches, including -- it turns out -- European football. So today, for example, you can catch the second leg of the Champions League semi-final between Arsenal and Villarreal, 2.30 pm Eastern Time. What excellent news. It will be the first time I've watched European football since coming to the States, and it will be interesting to see if they take the ITV Commentary. I hope so.

Having missed all of the opportunities to watch European football until now because of this ignorance, I began to wonder how one could keep track of what's on where? I've found a great site called Live Soccer TV, which bills itself as "Your ultimate Soccer TV Guide" and it is, indeed, very useful. It gathers information from all over the place, and lets you know the schedule of what's on where, Live, Delayed and Recorded. Definitely one to bookmark.

Meanwhile, one will want to get some feeling for opinions on the ground, and one of my favourite podcasts is the 606 Football Phone In on FiveLive. I always listened to this when I could in the UK, and it's a pleasure to be able to catch it now, three times a week (four last week) via download.

I close with a confession: the other day, I found myself calling football "soccer".


Michael Pahl said...

Mark, I know how you feel about calling football "soccer." As a Canadian, I felt ritually impure, like I had betrayed some unwritten Canadian code, when I first referred to hockey as "ice hockey" here in the UK in order to avoid confusion. In Canada, ice hockey is just "hockey," and even street hockey or other forms are just "hockey" even though they're not played on ice, since they're simply different versions of the pure game.

As for "soccer," I must confess I've called it "football" from the beginning here, without even a slight twinge of bad conscience. :-)

J. B. Hood said...


You neglected to mention that Champions League matches (almost always with British team) are broadcast on ESPN2. I try to do email/vocab/grading during this time of the day on matchdays (they don't call it gameday!) or pretend to watch the kids for my wife, so I can catch them.

FSC is great stuff, and EPL is better football (or at least more interesting) than Champs League.

Mark it down--May 17, ESPN 2 about 2:45 or so your time.

J. B. Hood said...

Just curious Mark, two questions:
1) How do you think the US will do this summer (I'm very, very pessimistic myself)
2) Before exposure to FSC, how aware were you of Americans in English soccer (goalkeepers galore, Claudio Reyna, Brian McBride, Carlos Bocanegra)

Mark Goodacre said...

Thanks, J. B. When I was talking about European football, that's what I meant -- on ESPN2; I enjoyed seeing Arsenal make it through to the Champions League final on Tuesday.

Re. USA's chances, they have the standard advantage of being underdogs so they can surprise people. Give it 20 years and USA will be one of the top teams -- it seems to me that football is a massive growth sport here, not least because kids can play it easily without lots of special equipment! Occasionally we'd be conscious of Americans playing in the UK.

Anonymous said...

Just another comment that in addition to ESPN and other channels showing english soccer (yes I'm calling it soccer now too) you can subscribe to channel 615 - setanta sports and get some matches including a lot of rugby too. If big matches are not on this regular channel they are oftern on pay-per-view setanta (see thier website for details).

Viola said...

Here's the link:
Setanta Sports