Newsflash: Options to watch soccer on television in the United States are seriously impressive.
Ok, that may not be a revelation for those who have been paying attention, but it's worth observing, to be sure. In the past week alone, I've watched full or partial games from MLS, USL, NASL, Liga MX, the Premier League, the Bundesliga, Ligue 1, the English Championship, Brazilian Serie A, the Argentine Primera, the CONCACAF Champions League and the UEFA Champions League. Whew.
Given the proper TV packages (and a DVR), streaming options, available screens, and time, one could conceivably watch new soccer all day, every day.
And this time of year is among the most exciting, with the American leagues in full swing and the big European leagues getting underway, so the enthusiasm and options available are stunning.
Of course, to some extent all of this is dependent on the options available to you. It's a "If you haven't seen it, it's new to you" phenomenon. In my case, I moved this summer, and my new cable company had a few new channels on my package, so the novelty of watching some of these competitions is fresh. I know many MLS fans, for example, continue to complain about the lack of availability of UniMas, much less Univision Deportes, on their cable packages, meaning they can't watch MLS games once a week. Living in Southern California, the former channel is compulsory for everyone on cable, the latter is easy to pick up.
On busy weeks, of course I won't be able to watch all of the soccer available to me -- I can't even do that now. And maybe the trend of "cord cutters" who don't have cable at all, while all the rage in think pieces in recent years (I'd like to point out that in the past, like when I was growing up without any cable TV in my household, those without cable were merely called "poor people") are losing out on much of the bounty of soccer availability. Yes, some leagues are still available -- MLS (with an MLS Live subscription), USL (free over YouTube, the ultimate cord cutter's friend), NWSL (also on YouTube for most games), secondary pay streaming services, and of course illegal streams.
Just five years ago, the options in the U.S. on TV (and overall, frankly) were basically Fox Soccer Channel, the Spanish channels playing the Mexican Primera, and going to that one bar or your one friend's house who had the super-deluxe cable package with GolTV and/or a satellite dish with random international channels. Today it's still stunning to realize we can catch the Premier League on NBC networks, the Bundesliga on Fox channels, and soccer from all over Latin America, Europe and even Australia fairly easily.
The bounty of options available to American fans is impressive. We all have to prioritize a few teams or leagues because we can't be couch potato shut-ins who watch soccer every waking moment (though I daydream about that every now and then). But the ultimate sign that soccer's popularity is exploding in this country is the ready availability of games and ancillary coverage.
This is not an argument to turn your backs on local soccer and reject going to the stadiums when you can. But sometimes, you want to watch soccer at 7 am on a Saturday, or 8 pm on a Thursday, and getting a taste of what's happening in the Europa League, or the Copa Sudamericana is fun. What a world we live in, truly.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!