Quick, tell me what channel is GolTV on your cable or satellite package? Chances are, you are not alone when you say that you don’t even have GolTV. None of the national cable and satellite providers carry GolTV anymore and the only provider I saw that even remotely carries GolTV is DirecTV. On DirecTV though, it’s only in Spanish and you have to buy a Spanish language package to get the channel. Quite frankly, GolTV’s situation is embarrassing and they’re putting the Bundesliga as a hostage.
The Bundesliga has star power as it is the home of the majority of the World Cup champion players. The Bundesliga has arguably the most competitive league from top to bottom and is one of the highest attended crowds averaging 45k people per game at more affordable prices to their big league counterparts. The most expensive EPL season ticket is Arsenal which costs $1,700 while the most expensive Bundesliga season ticket is Borussia Dortmund which costs $500. In the United States, the English Premier League is the most popular European soccer league and a big reason is because of TV.
The English Premier League is currently in its 2nd season at NBC. NBC has made it a point to show every game live on the NBC family of networks or on Premier League Extra Time when there are multiple games being played at the same time. Because of the ease of access in the United States, the EPL is the most popular and therefore, we as soccer fans in America know and care about all 20 teams in the league.
Before BeIn Sport was formed in 2012, La Liga, Serie A and Ligue 1 rights were on a mix of networks and not all teams were represented. Sure, games like El Clasico was going to be shown on some channel but no one expected to see Celta Vigo vs Getafe on American TV. Many of these big games in these leagues were on GolTV and BeIn Sport bought out many of the big European league rights except for the Bundesliga and EPL. Because BeIn Sport is only one channel, they cannot possibly show every game live so some are tape delayed or are online, but they have provided a single place for people to watch soccer. And any network who has the magisterial Ray Hudson commentating their games is great in my book.
When NBC was buying up EPL rights and BeIn was buying everything else in Europe in the summer of 2012, the Bundesliga sadly signed their deal with GolTV in fall of 2011 and missed out on a better situation. Many cable and satellite providers decided to remove GolTV in favor of BeIn Sport so that was the nail in the coffin for GolTV. Quite honestly, I don’t know how GolTV even survives as a network. They spent on Bundesliga rights as well as South American league rights but I have to imagine the ratings are horrible because no one has GolTV. Because of horrible ratings, they aren’t getting much revenue from cable and satellite providers and from advertisers so the fact that the powers that be haven’t pulled the plug on the network yet is somewhat shocking. There currently is no recent public ratings for GolTV but I would be shocked if they break 10k viewers for a game. GolTV also has the rights to the US Open Cup Final for this year. I would bet more people would read this article than watch that game on GolTV.
I can’t imagine people in charge of the Bundesliga are thrilled about the lows of GolTV. I don’t know how much GolTV is paying for Bundesliga rights but they would probably be better off showing games on YouTube for free for the ad revenue and exposure to the United States. As of now, they are fighting with Ligue 1 for 4th place in popularity among European leagues in the United States. We know about teams like Bayern and Dortmund because of Champions League but there are a lot of great teams in the Bundesliga that the average soccer fan in America has no clue about. On 32 Flags, we discussed about what we cover in the European leagues. Ideally, we would love to devote equal space to all of the top leagues but more people watch EPL, then La Liga, then Serie A and then Bundesliga and Ligue 1 and that shows in our coverage. We cover the EPL more than any other league because of that, more people are interested in the EPL and a big reason why that’s the case is because the TV deal in EPL is more accessible to the average fan than any other soccer league.
Some good news for the Bundesliga is that their deal ends with GolTV in 2015 and the FOX networks take over next season. You know GolTV is in rough shape when people are glad FOX is taking over Bundesliga rights. If I was GolTV and I assume was losing money, unless they’re being helped by a very rich benefactor, I would’ve sold the broadcasting rights long ago and closed up shop before the network was completely worthless. FOX isn’t nearly perfect in their soccer coverage but at least we’ll be able to watch the Bundesliga in 2015 and that will help us as a soccer nation.