The Barclays Premier League kicks off its 2010-11 season this weekend with Fox and ESPN properties poised to provide coverage on an array of platforms.
Arguably the top league in the world, the BPL will showcase 108 players who participated in the 2010 FIFA World Cup from South Africa.
Fox Sports International inked a three-season renewal pact for U.S. rights to the top English futbol circuit last October, making Fox Soccer Channel and premium service Fox Soccer Plus the top outlets here, along with Fox Sports en Espanol, which will officially become Fox Deportes on Oct. 1, and broadband portal foxsoccer.tv. Following a sublicensing agreement with FSI announced on Aug. 11, ESPN2, Spanish-language service ESPN Deportes, broadband portal ESPN3 and ESPN Mobile TV will also be in the top British league's games.
Beginning Saturday, Aug. 14, the Fox properties will present viewers with up to 304 matches per season on-air and online through the 2012/13 campaign. For the first time, all BPL matches on Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Soccer Plus will be available in high-definition.
Typically, FSC will air a pair of live matches at 10 a.m. (ET) and 12:30 p.m. on Saturdays and 11 a.m. on Sundays, while Fox Soccer Plus, which counts DirecTV, Dish, Verizon FiOS and Time Warner Cable as affiliates, has live windows at 9:55 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Saturday and Sundays, respectively, and a premiere showing at 2 p.m. on Saturdays.
There will also be live and premiere airings on Tuesdays and Wednesdays on both services.
In addition, the Premier League Preview Show, Premier League Review Show and magazine program Premier League World will continue to air weekly on Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Soccer Plus, now in HD.
This weekend also marks the return of Fox Soccer Channel's live studio programming Fox Soccer Match Day, which airs in two half-hour editions every Saturday (9:30 a.m. and 12 p.m.), while Sunday at 1 p.m. Super Sunday + breaks down all the weekend's action with 90 minutes of highlights and analysis.
FSC starts its coverage with Aston Villa vs. West Ham United on Aug. 14 at 10 p.m., followed by defending BPL champion Chelsea vs. promoted West Bromwich Albion at 12: 30 p.m. On Sunday, traditional powers Liverpool and Arsenal square off in Anfield at 11 a.m.
For its part, Fox Soccer Plus begins Aug. 14 at 9:55 a.m. with Blackburn vs. Everton, and Wolverhampton vs. Stoke City at 2 p.m. and then Sunderland against Birmingham City at 10:30 a.m. on Aug. 15.
Meanwhile, focsoccer.tv has a quintet of five live matches -- Blackburn vs. Everton, Bolton vs. Fulham, Wigan vs, Blackpool, Wolverhampton vs. Stoke all at 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunderland/Birmingham at that time on Sunday. The broadband service also had three on-demand matches on tap for the opening weekend: Aston Villa/West Ham United and Chelsea West Bromwich at noon on Aug. 15, and Liverpool-Arsenal at the same time on Aug. 16.
While Fox has the majority of the matches, ESPN actually gets to kick matters off with multimedia coverage on Aug. 14, at 7:30 a.m. (ET) with the opening match of the 2010-11 campaign: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Manchester City, which finished fourth and fifth, respectively, last season. Most of ESPN's coverage of BPL matches will be available in high-definition.
Similarly, ESPN2, ESPN3.com, ESPN Deported and ESPN Mobile TV will present Manchester United vs. Newcastle United on Aug. 16 at 3 p.m.
Under the deal ESPN struck with Fox Sports International, the typical match windows for the ESPN properties are: Saturday mornings at 7:30 a.m. (or 10 a.m. when there are no matches at the earlier time), and weekday afternoons (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday) at 2:45 p.m. The sports giant will televise up to 74 live BPL matches during each of the three seasons covered by the agreement.
The pact represents ESPN's second sublicensing deal in the States for England's top futbol circuit in as many years. On the eve of the 2009-10 BPL season, ESPN2 obtained the rights to 48 BPL matches from Fox Soccer International. The matches were culled from a package of games the now defunct premium network Setanta USA had sublicensed from Fox.
Fox Soccer Plus launched on March 1 after Setanta shuttered its operations in the U.S. and the Caribbean. Stateside, Setanta counted DirecTV, Dish, FiOS, AT&T U-verse, RCN, Cox and Comcast as affiliates.