I get this question all the time so I thought I’d do a standing page just to explain the options that us Yanks have to catch Arsenal (or any other EPL, FA Cup, Champions League, or Carling Cup game for that matter) on the “telly.”
English Premier League matches
Fox Soccer Channel usually plays 2 live matches and one replay on Saturday and one live match on Sunday.
Setanta carries all the other matches on one of their three channels.
Both of these channels should be available through the multitude of Dish networks, though my calculations show a pretty hefty premium to get both channels. Setanta in particular is an “ala carte” channel and you will have to pay at least $15 extra per month to get it.
This gets complicated if you have cable television because Setanta is not available via cable… Well, sorta. Fox Soccer Channel should be one of the options for those of us who have digital cable. It’s usually in the “most expensive” package. To get Setanta, you’ll have to subscribe to their broadband service. Their broadband service has two tiers “Monthly + Pay per view” and “$150 a year.” If all you care about is EPL matches then the monthly service will do you just fine but very few of us only care about the EPL. Which means you’ll have to make a choice: $10 PPV for a random number of games or the whole broadband package for $150.
I estimate that Arsenal fans can see about 40% of the EPL matches live if they just have Fox Soccer Channel. For Middlesbrough supporters that number would go down to about 10%. If you want to see the other matches, you’re going to have to bite the bullet and buy Setanta.
Find a pub near you that carries Setanta Premium. The link there is to a venue finder. Use it to get a listing of the closest places that carry Setanta Premium.
The early CL season matches are almost exclusively on Setanta whereas the later matches are split between ESPN 2 and Setanta. ESPN choses which matches it wants to play first and those go on it’s live broadcast. It then shuttles the other match over to ESPN Classic — 2 hours after the match has been played.
So, again, if you want/need to see all the CL matches live, you’ll either need to buy the Setanta package (all Champions League matches are PPV on Setanta by the way) or find a pub that has Setanta Premium.
You starting to see a pattern yet? Yes, everything is on Setanta and no tournament is this more true than the FA Cup.
FA Cup matches on Fox Soccer Channel are about as common as a virgin at a Rolling Stones concert. To put the screws to you, all the best FA Cup matches are on Setanta PPV. And to shit all over you, the semi-finals and finals are exclusively on Setanta and cost extra to watch.
If you’re thinking about going to a venue to watch the FA Cup finals or semi-finals, be prepared: there’s a cover charge that Setanta is forcing your publican to collect at the door. I think in 2008, the finals are supposed to cost $25.
League Cup (aka Carling Cup, etc)
These matches are kinda difficult to see live but any that are shown are evenly split between FSC and Setanta.
This year’s final was on Setanta.
Americans are very, very lucky in terms of live football on the telly. If you follow a big team like Arsenal, you can literally see every match live on one of three channels. Most English fans have to go down to the pub to watch the match and that’s if it’s a friendly pub and on one of two channels. In fact, this year (2007/08) I have seen all but 2 matches in all competitions live. I have accomplished this by having Fox Soccer Channel at home and a friendly pub who carries Setanta Premium near by.
You’ll probably have a different experience than I have had. Email me. I’d love to fill in the gaps.
*ESPN bid for the rights to show some EPL matches in Europe but no deal has been set to show those matches in America.