For those who thought that ESPN might be bowing out of the soccer race with their recent loss of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup TV bid to Fox, you might want to think again. According to EPLTalk, the largest sports network here in the United States is planning on launching a new show dedicated to the sport of soccer. Prior to now, no such show existed on the network.
"Soccer's popularity is at an all-time high in the United States as fans are now more familiar with the world's top players, marquee clubs and national teams," said Scott Guglielmino, ESPN senior vice president for programming.
The plan for the show is to discuss and show highlights from the English Premier League, UEFA Champions League, Major League Soccer, Spain's La Liga and the respective national teams of the USA and Mexico. Though don't be surprised if it takes a more overall soccer approach rather than just a focus on these leagues.
What's really cool, however, is that this will tie in nicely with ESPN's MLS coverage. Well, the little coverage they give the league right now anyway. But it does show a renewed interest in the sport at large from ESPN and hopefully, with that, a renewed interest in MLS. After all, ESPN won't have the rights to show EPL, La Liga, or other European league games themselves as those rights are tied up already across the board. This leaves MLS and Liga MX as their sole properties to promote. I suppose they could make a play for the German Bundesliga since GolTV has all but disappeared from American airwaves...
Regardless, this is some good news for MLS. We've all wanted ESPN to get a highlight show and now they'll have one, even if it's not dedicated to MLS.
The show will begin to air Sunday through Friday on ESPN2 August 11th. A special 1 hour edition will air every Sunday highlighting the weekend's best matches. A specific time slot has yet to be announced.
What do you think about ESPN dedicating a show to soccer?