Fox Soccer Plus Nets Four Distribution Deals

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Premium network Fox Soccer Plus will kick off with four affiliates in its net, when it launches on March 1.

The service, which is succeeding Setanta Sports USA in the premium soccer space, has inked carriage deals with DirecTV, Dish Network and Verizon FiOS TV. It will also roll out on Time Warner Cable systems serving some parts of Ohio, Wisconsin and Hawaii by the end of March. Further, it is expected to join the No. 2 cable operator's lineup in such other markets as New York City, upstate New York and Kansas City by year-end, according to the MSO.

Deal terms were not disclosed.

Fox Soccer Plus will feature new exclusive matches from England's Barclays Premier League, the UEFA Champions League, England's FA Cup, Carling Cup and Coca-Cola Championship, and Italy's top circuit, Serie A. The network, also showcasing a number of live and exclusive England men's national team matches, has gained the rights to an array of rugby programming, notably the Guinness Premiership, the Heineken Cup, and Magners League.

Didier Drogba

All told, Fox Soccer Plus's annual programming package will encompass some 600 exclusive events.
Over the course of the past few weeks, Fox Soccer Plus regained some rights that Fox Soccer Channel had been sublicensing to Setanta Sports and secured other properties from the premium programmer, which launched in the U.S. on DirecTV in 2005. Setanta will go dark in the U.S. and the Caribbean on Feb. 28.

It had been reported that Fox Soccer Channel was in negotiations to purchase Setanta USA, which sources estimated had upward of 120,000 subscribers in this nation, outright.
In addition to DirecTV, Dish -- which is positioning Fox Soccer Plus on channel 406 as an a la carte option for $14.99 per month -- and FiOS, Setanta's affiliate lineup comprised AT&T U-verse and RCN, as well as Cox and Comcast in select markets.

Cox officials said they are currently in talks with the service, while a Comcast spokesman said the top MSO has had conversations with Fox Soccer Plus. An AT&T U-verse spokeswoman only said the telco had not reached a deal by press time.

For its part, RCN launched PFC, the only 24-hour, Portuguese-language channel dedicated exclusively to Brazilian soccer, on Feb. 24. It is available on channel 925 in the Lehigh Valley and on channel 542 in all other markets for $19.95 to the company's RCN Essentials tier or higher subscribers for $19.95 per month. PFC can also be bundled with TV Globo for $29.95 per month.

Cox officials said they are currently in talks with the service, while a Comcast spokesman said the top MSO has had conversations with Fox Soccer Plus. AT&T U-verse had not reached a deal by press time.
"Fox Soccer Plus is a dynamic new network that will provide our distribution partners with the ability to profitably reach an extremely passionate subscriber base," said Mike Hopkins, president affiliate sales and marketing, Fox Cable Networks, in a statement. "Soccer and international sports fans will thoroughly enjoy the diverse and compelling lineup of live events."

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