Football season kicked off in the U.S. recently, with no shortage of excitement and exposure. The first couple weeks were filled with highlights, including some stunning comebacks, a one-of-a-kind tie game, and a stock-market-rattling, advertising-meets-activism controversy. However, if you’re like me and you sometimes prefer the other type of futball, the one with billions of fans worldwide, you’re probably wondering how you can watch the top players battle it out in Europe’s premier leagues, including the infamous Champions League showdown. To gather a full appreciation of the unique position of an American international futball fan, we have to rewind to earlier in 2018.
On the heels of the U.S. Men’s National Team failing to qualify for the stellar World Cup in Russia, American viewership of the tournament reportedly came in at an nearly unbelievable 44% decrease from the 2014 Brazil levels. Since then, it coincidentally hasn’t been easy for American soccer fans to tune into their favorite matches. On the eve of the Spanish La Liga season debut, fans of major clubs like Barcelona and Real Madrid received news that Comcast would not be renewing the contract with the primary broadcaster of La Liga matches – beIN Sports – after conflicting statements from both sides regarding fee hikes and programming tiers. beIN also filed a complaint with the FCC earlier this year alleging a Comcast conspiracy to promote their own NBC Sports Network English Premier League matches over beIN’s La Liga games, which Comcast refused to even carry in HD.
Luckily, there are still options for those wishing to watch more futball here in America. Shopping the streaming market isn’t always easy or fun, but thanks to the advertising potential and minimal hardware required, there are free week-trials galore to try what works for you. After taking a look at a handful of providers specializing in international sports, all with varying options for matches and channels, the clear winner for full scope Champions League and La Liga coverage seems to be the cloud DVR equipped Fubo TV. As the Champions League kicked off this week, I was able to find a feed for virtually every match outside of the major games presented by TNT on mobile, Chromecast and on my computer. Similarly, I had a solid experience recording the ones I couldn’t watch in real time with the cloud DVR.
While it’s certainly not ideal to be searching far and wide for our desired content, it also feels pretty idealistic to believe that there will ever be a consummate content provider. Consumers must sometimes seek out what programming packages are most suited for them, but lucky for us the options are out there (for now). However, like the cultural tapestry that is the World Cup Champion French National team, I believe greatness in any field, whether it be innovation in technology or excellence on the pitch, relies on diversity for its long-term strength.
Soccer is a game that thrives on access, from the ability for any young player regardless of financial status to play, to our ability to watch the best teams in the world perform the game at the highest level. As this access window narrows, U.S. soccer (and perhaps media giants as well) seem to simultaneously be narrowing their field of vision on the subject. As the U.S. Women’s team gets set to compete again for their rightful spot as World champions next year and the 2026 men’s World Cup makes its way to North America, wouldn’t now be the time to recognize what’s on the horizon, and switch the field to open things up?