Fox Sports Welcomes Bundesliga, Streams Opening Match on YouTube
Fox Sports’ puts a dramatic exclamation point on its “Summer of Soccer” on Friday with the debut of the Bundesliga – Germany’s top flight football league – across its many platforms. The season kicks off with an added layer of history as the match between Bayern Munich and Hamburg SV (Fox Sports 2, Fox Sports Go, 2 p.m. ET) will also be available on YouTube.
This marks the first time that Fox Sports has taken a game from one of its major rights packages and made it available for free on YouTube. The match will be available on Fox Soccer’s YouTube channel in attempt to generate some early buzz in Fox Sports’ coverage and interest in a league that has never been so available in the United States.
“I think, and I hope that they are going to love it,” says Jonty Whitehead, executive producer for soccer at Fox Sports. “Its not like Americans don’t know the big teams. We’ve had the UEFA Champions League for a number of years now and we know that we do well when Bayern are playing, or even Dortmund. The great news for all of the viewers – and hopefully the new ones that we will attract – that level of play is right through to league play. It’s the highest attended league in the world so what’s not to love about it.”
For now, the live game productions will be simple with Fox Sports taking the produced world feed directly from the Bundesliga in Germany. Fox will supplement from there with reporters on site at select grounds and with studio coverage based in Los Angeles before the match, at halftime, and after the match.
Fox will not use the same set that is uses for UEFA Champions League coverage, instead choosing to use Stage B in its L.A. studios to give Bundesliga coverage its own identity.
“We want it to look unique; we want it to look spectacular,” says Whitehead, “We have the brushes to paint a really spectacular opening to the Bundesliga.”
Those brushes include utilizing virtual graphics that were seen during Fox’s coverage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup earlier this summer.
Whitehead says he plans to see Fox Sports grow into its Bundesliga coverage by starting simple but expanding to plans such as bringing the studio coverage live to Germany and developing a RedZone inspired channel to busy match days, which Fox already does on select Champions League rounds.
Thanks to established relationships with the Bundesliga from Fox Sports International and sister station Sky Deutschland, Fox Sports in the U.S. is positioned to get access to premium content to provide to viewers and get them acquainted with the league’s clubs and players. Whitehead acknowledges, though, that it’s a challenge to respect hardcore viewers while welcoming in new ones.
“It’s a very fine line,” says Whitehead. “What you don’t want to do is alienate the hardcore fan and those that have seeked it out. You don’t want to talk down to them but you want to be clever in how you speak to the new fans and tell them the tales that are going to get them invested. With soccer in this country, that’s a unique challenge and one that we think about all of the time.
“At the end of the day its up to us to get the highest possible viewing figures for all of our sports but it’s a unique challenge with football where you do have a highly developed soccer audience but the potential for a huge additional audience on top of that.”
Fox Sports’ coverage of the Bundesliga continues through the weekend on Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2, Fox Sports Go, Fox Soccer Plus, and Fox Soccer 2 Go. Rights for games vary so check listings.