New premium network Fox Soccer Plus kicks off on March 1
with four affiliates already in the net.
As of press time last Friday (Feb. 26), the service, which
succeeds Setanta Sports USA in the premium soccer space, had carriage deals
with DirecTV, Dish Network and Verizon FiOS TV. It will also roll out in
selected Time Warner Cable markets by the end of March.
The season for England's
Barclays Premier League is winding down, and the FIFA World Cup finals will
capture fans' attention this spring on ESPN and Univision, but the new Fox
service might be expected to see carriage deals pick up ahead of the English
league's return this August.
Fox Soccer Plus secured rights to many of the properties
previously held by Setanta, which launched a channel in the U.S.
on DirecTV in 2005 and will go dark here and in the Caribbean
on Feb. 28.
It had been reported that Fox was in talks to buy Setanta's U.S.
channel slots outright. DirecTV, Dish and FiOS were Setanta affiliates, and the
pay channel also had AT&T U-verse, RCN,
Cox and Comcast carriage.
Fox Soccer Plus' lineup will include exclusive matches
from the Barclays Premier League, the UEFA Champions League, England's FA Cup and other properties.