Following up on Adam’s comments, I wanted to let everyone know where they might be able to watch games, what channels show games, and what competitions there are. As Adam said, exposure to the professional game will teach these kids a lot about soccer.
/ beIN Sports en Español – Available on DirecTV (620 HD, 426 HD en Español), Dish Network (392 HD, 871 SD Spanish language, 873 SD en Español), and AT&T U-Verse (662 SD/1662 HD and 663 SD/1663 HD en Español). beIN Sports en Español usually but not always mirrors the English-language channel. beIN Sports holds the rights to La Liga, Serie A, Ligue 1, Russian Premier League, the Football League Championship, Football League Cup, TIM Cup, Copa del Rey, South American World Cup Qualifiers, Copa America, and CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers outside of the US and Mexico. Above and beyond the full soccer games (which are frequently re-aired throughout the week) they have half-hour highlight shows of the English Championship, Italian Serie A and French Ligue 1. This is a good way to see lots of goals quickly. In addition, they often offer “compressed games” where you can watch the most exciting 30 minutes (or really 22 after commercials) of a game. These programs are called 90 in 30.
Comcast Sports Network – I hate these guys. They are only available on Comcast (39 SD/639 HD), and are the home of the Houston Dynamo. All Dynamo home games and many road games are broadcast here. Ugh. It looks like they are in financial trouble, and the majority owners have backed a reorganization plan that will see AT&T and DirecTV take it over. Meaning I still won’t get it, but U-Verse and DirecTV viewers will.
ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNews/ESPNU – ESPN is the venerable old lady of sports broadcasting, ESPN2 the original alternate, which more frequently shows the soccer coverage. At times soccer coverage is pushed to other ESPN channels such as ESPNews and ESPN U. The channels are available on DirecTV (206; 209 ESPN2; 207 ESPNews; 208 ESPNU), Dish Network (140; 144 ESPN2; 142 ESPNews; 141 ESPNU), U-Verse (602 SD/1602 HD; 606 SD/1606 HD ESPN2; 604 SD/1604 HD ESPNews; 605 SD/1605 HD ESPNU), and Comcast (33 SD/633 HD; 34 SD/634 HD ESPN2; 116 SD/716 HD ESPNews; 125 SD/725 HD ESPNU). The ESPN television networks have the rights to some of the qualifiers for Euro 2016 as well as the entire tournament proper; Major League Soccer; the National Women’s Soccer League; US National Team through the end of 2014; Mexican, German, and French national teams at home or in the US; the Copa del Rey final. ESPN also shows ESPNFC, a half hour show on weeknights and an hour show on Sundays. This is an entertaining show with highlights, news, rumors, and more.
ESPN3 – ESPN3 is an online-only service, available for a fee but free if you have internet access through Xfinity (Comcast), AT&T, and many other providers. In addition to showing everything on ESPN (and available after the fact as well), ESPN3 will have some UEFA Champions League games available, the Coupe de France, and African Cup of Nations.
ESPN Deportes – Spanish-language ESPN channel with a wider range of licenses than ESPN makes it more than just “ESPN in Spanish”. Available on DirecTV (432), Dish Network (854 SD only), Uverse (3113 SD/3313 HD), Comcast (513 SD only). Has rights to UEFA Champions League and Europa League games in addition to other ESPN rights.
Fox Sports 1/Fox Sports 2 – When NBC Sports Network won the rights to the English Premier League from Fox Soccer Channel, Fox rebranded to the Fox Sports 1 and rebranded Fuel TV as a sister channel, Fox Sports 2. I was sure this was a sign they were leaving the soccer broadcasting business, but they have fought back and gained some valuable properties. Available on DirecTV (219 FS1; 618 FS2), Dish Network (150 FS1; 397 FS2), U-Verse (652 SD/1652 HD FS1; 651 SD/1651 HD FS2), and Comcast (114 SD/601 HD FS1; 111 SD FS2). They will carry the 2015 and 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cups, 2017 and 2021 FIFA Confederations Cups, and 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups, along with some 2016 Euro qualifiers. They will also continue to carry the UEFA Champions League and Europa League, along with the Copa Libertadores. In CONCACAF Fox Sports has the rights to the Gold Cup and Champions League. Fox also has English soccer coverage, with the English National Team and the FA Cup. Starting in 2015 Fox will add MLS and German Bundesliga coverage.
GolTV – The recent explosion of interest in Soccer programming has left GolTV a bit “out in the cold,” as they’ve lost coverage of numerous properties, and therefore contracts with numerous carriers. Currently only available on DirecTV (456 SD). Gol TV carries the German Bundesliga (which will move to Fox Sports next year), the Swiss Super League, The Brazilian Campeonato Serie A, The Brazilian Sao Paulo State Championship, the Ascenco MX (Mexican 2nd Division), and other lesser-known properties. Frankly I find it hard to believe this channel will be around too much longer, but if you have DirecTV you can enjoy what they do have, and their very entertaining announcer, Ray Hudson, who at times explodes with so much excitement you might fear he is having a heart attack on air.
NBC Sports – Available on DirecTV (220), Dish Network (159), U-Verse (640 SD/1640 HD), and Comcast (49 SD/649 HD). NBC Sports first got into soccer broadcasting when they signed a deal with MLS, and they wowed MLS fans by treating the league more seriously than any other broadcaster had. Then NBCSN added the English Premier League a couple of years ago, in a shock move. This is the last season that MLS will be with NBC, as they’ve decided they will focus on the EPL. In addition, they have rights to some US National team games, and I believe Olympic soccer. NBC Sports also shows “Premier League Review”, and hour long highlights show of the weekend’s games.
Univision Deportes – Available on DirecTV (455), Dish Network (869 and 870 SD for Univision Deportes 2), and U-Verse (658 SD/1658 HD). Broadcasting in Spanish, they carry home games for 2/3 of Liga MX teams, and away games for the rest. They also carry MLS and CONCACAF Champions League games, many that Fox does not carry. UniDeportes also carries compressed games, usually 90 en 60 but sometimes also 90 en 30.