Fox schedules more Premier League games as lead-ins for NFL broadcasts
The English Premier League is returning to Fox.
Delayed-match broadcasts will serve as lead-ins for NFL games on Fox at least three times in the coming months, marking the second consecutive year the EPL will receive visibility on the over-the-air network.
While Fox Soccer, which carries a full slate of EPL games, is available in 41 million homes, the Fox network is received in more than 114 million homes.
Fox’s schedule calls for same-day broadcasts of matches on Sept. 23, Oct. 7 and Nov. 4. Fox would not disclose participants, but Sept. 23 is expected to be the anticipated match between Manchester United and Liverpool.
More broadcasts will be added later in the EPL season, according to the network, with some of those matches live. Details on which matches are added, and when they would air, would follow from Fox Soccer’s schedule, which has not yet been finalized for the full EPL season. High-profile, late-season matchups are expected to be in play, though.
“We’re very bullish on the Premier League,” said Fox Soccer general manager David Nathanson.
Fox experimented last season by broadcasting five EPL matches on its flagship network — two live and three delayed. The results were strong enough to persuade executives to do it again this season. A tape-delayed match between Chelsea and Liverpool on Nov. 20 drew 1.7 million total viewers to become the most watched EPL match in U.S. television history. A telecast of Chelsea vs. Manchester United that began at 10:30 a.m. ET on Super Bowl Sunday generated 1.4 million viewers, making it the most watched live EPL match ever in the U.S. The five matches averaged 1.5 million viewers.
“It’s no longer a gamble,” Nathanson said. “The experiment last season proved that a lot of people in the U.S. are watching soccer, especially the kind played at the highest levels.”