Could road USMNT WCQ games be unavailable to most American soccer fans on TV?

Maybe. Associated Press Sports Writer Ronald Blum has more:

NEW YORK (AP) — Add U.S. road World Cup qualifiers to the soccer games many American television viewers may not be able to see.

The new beIN Sport network said Wednesday it had acquired rights to U.S. road qualifiers this year and next along with all other qualifiers in the North and Central American and Caribbean region for the 2014 tournament, except for matches involving Mexico.

The network, launched last week by the Al-Jazeera Sport Media Network, is available to only about 7 percent of U.S. television households. It can be received in the 8 million homes that subscribe to its tier on DirecTV and DISH, which are available in 34 million
households in all.

While the U.S. Soccer Federation owns rights to its home qualifiers, Traffic Sports USA bought rights to the road games from the CONCACAF nations that owned them, and Traffic resold them to beIN.

“We don’t control the rights for our away matches but have talked with beIN Sport and know that they have an aggressive plan to expand distribution over the weeks and months to come,” U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati said in an email. “Obviously, we’d like as wide a distribution in the US as possible for our WCQ matches.”

The U.S. has remaining road qualifiers this year in the semifinal round at Jamaica on Sept. 7 and at Antigua and Barbuda on Oct. 12.

Rights to home U.S. qualifiers are held by ESPN. In qualifying for the 2010 World Cup, eight matches on ESPN2 averaged 787,000 viewers and two matches on ESPN averaged 734,000. The U.S. qualifier at Guatemala in June was resold from Traffic to Integrated Sports Media and available only on pay-per-view.

The new network also has rights to Spain’s La Liga, Italy’s Serie A, France’s Ligue 1 and
England’s second-tier League Championship. In addition, it has rights to South American World Cup qualifiers and the 2015 Copa America.

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About Nick Green

South Bay-based Los Angeles News Group soccer columnist and blogger Nick Green writes at the 100 Percent Soccer blog at www.insidesocal.com/soccer and craft beer at the Beer Goggles blog at www.insidesocal.com/beer. Cheers!
  • Joseph D’Hippolito

    beIn is an al-Jazeera subsidiary? Well, that’s going to really increase its U.S. “footprint,” as they say in the sports marketing biz.

    U.S. Soccer should have no business dealing with al-Jazeera, or any firm that does. Somethings are more important than money…