Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
As the ink dries on the contract, between Fox Sports and Setanta Sports, that will strip Setanta of their soccer content. We can all begin preparing for the end of one of our favorite channels.
Yesterday, Setanta Sports announced that it has reached an agreement with Fox Soccer Channel to transfer select programming rights, including many premium soccer and rugby events. Fox Soccer Channel will acquire these rights effective March 1, 2010.
Setanta Sports also announced that it will cease broadcasting its channel in the United States and the Caribbean on February 28th 2010.
For the remainder of January and throughout February, Setanta will continue to broadcast normally and will feature its usual line up of top games from the Barclays Premier League, FA Cup, UEFA Champions League, Heineken Cup, Magners League and Guinness Premiership.
Now, one might say, “Hey, Fox Sports now has rights, so maybe they’ll start showing rugby?”
While I pray that those words are true, I’m not going to hold my breath. Fox often touts their Fox Soccer Channel as 100% all soccer, so we should not expect even 1% of rugby to slip it’s muddy mitts onto their sacred soccer coverage. Fox is already advertising their new “soccer only” channel Fox Soccer Plus to complement Fox Soccer with the ultimate soccer fan experience in HD. Yes, that’s now two 100% soccer only channels.
Want to see where rugby ranks in Fox Sports’ book? Head over to their website and look at the sports tool bar near the top of the page. No rugby there, not even in the “More Sports” section. Now, try a search for the word rugby on Fox Sports and see what comes up. Nothing.
Sad to say ladies and gentlemen, but Fox will not be showing any rugby for us. I hope I have to eat my words though. If it meant getting to see rugby on TV (especially in HD) I’d eat them in a heartbeat. The fact that some rights to rugby events were part of the deal may leave us a glimmer of hope.
Where does that leave us? Back to streaming rugby off of the internet in between the 1 or 2 games per year that ESPN2 shows. The expected National Guard Game of the Week series for college rugby will likely head back to ESPNU this year. ESPNU is a separate tier of cost on most providers and not really worth the price if all you’re looking for are a few games of rugby and a highlight show.
What does the future hold for rugby on TV in the United States?
Who knows? BBC-America is jumping in with some coverage of this year’s Six Nations, which is a pleasant surprise and hopefully could lead to more coverage in the future.
Still, all silver linings aside, it is doubtful that we will ever again get the amount of rugby that Setanta Sports delivered to our homes. I hope that all of you enjoyed the coverage while it lasted. I will now spend the next few weeks stockpiling rugby matches until my DVR cries for mercy.