|Launched||November 1, 1997|
Fox Entertainment Group|
(21st Century Fox)
Fox Sports World (1997-2005)|
Fox Soccer Channel (2005-11)
|Sister channel(s)||Fox Soccer Plus|
Fox Soccer (formerly Fox Soccer Channel) was an American television specialty channel specializing in soccer, owned by 21st Century Fox's Fox Entertainment Group, which operated from 1997 to 2013. It formerly broadcast rugby and Australian rules football, but in its final years was devoted strictly to soccer.
Due to Fox consolidating its cable sports rights on the new general-interest channels Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2, and following the loss of United States television rights to broadcast Premier League soccer events to NBC, Fox Soccer was replaced on September 2, 2013 by FXX, an entertainment sister network to FX. The vast majority of the remaining sports programming from Fox Soccer has been moved to Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2, which launched on August 17, 2013.Fox Soccer Plus, a spin-off channel which launched in 2010, will continue to operate.
Launched on November 1, 1997 to March 27, 2005 when it was originally known as Fox Sports World, the channel took its final name March 28, 2005 to July 31, 2011 later dropping the word "channel" from its name on August 1, 2011. to September 1, 2013. Fox Soccer offered its own game programming for United States soccer leagues through arrangements with outside production companies.
Most of Fox Soccer's coverage which originated outside the CONCACAF region (North America, Central America, Caribbean) consisted of picking up international broadcast feeds to which Fox Soccer had the U.S. broadcast rights. The A-League broadcasts were produced by Fox Sports (Australia). The English coverage generally came to Fox Soccer direct from IMG, Input Media and The Media Company, which produce the Premier League and FA Cup/England national team world feed broadcasts and Fox Soccer News reports respectively.
The network's soccer coverage was not limited to game play; Fox Soccer aired reruns of Dream Team, a British soap opera that aired in the UK on Fox Soccer's corporate cousin Sky One until 2007 and focused on a fictional Premiership team. The channel also televised a live soccer talk-show, Fox Football Fone-in, featuring viewer calls and predictions for that weekend's Premier League matches. During the Premier League term, Fox Soccer also produced and aired a couple of studio-based shows surrounding its game coverage.
In 2006, Fox Soccer announced that they had dropped coverage of other sports other than soccer. Amongst the leagues dropped were Super Rugby (rugby union), the Australian Football League (the principal Australian rules football league), and the Australian National Rugby League. The Super 14 games resided on Setanta Sports USA until it went off the air in early 2010, while ESPN offers the AFL. In return, Setanta gave Fox Soccer the rights to some national team matches that would not otherwise air live. After Setanta's demise in the US, News Corporation acquired most of Setanta USA's former rights and created the new Fox Soccer Plus as a second broadcast outlet.
Fox Sports World originally filled out its schedule with an eclectic mix of programming; among the sports featured (either in anthology form or actual events) were motorsports (prior to News Corporation's acquisition of SPEED, now Fox Sports 1), cricket, pool, darts, and extreme sports. It also aired the Final Four of the Euroleague in basketball; that league is now more extensively covered by NBA TV. Cricket, pool and darts currently see American coverage on Willow and ONE World Sports, which also now broadcasts some Sky Sports programming.
Until the middle of 2012, the morning hours on non-game days (when the English and European afternoon is timed to in the United States) and some odd afternoon half hours were slotted with paid programming time until additional loops of Fox Soccer News and Sky Sports News were placed in those slots.
The 720p high definition simulcast of Fox Soccer launched in January 2010.
Fox Soccer picked up the feed from its corporate cousin, Sky Sports News in the United Kingdom. In 2007, Fox Soccer began running the feed live at 2 a.m., noon and 7 p.m. Eastern Time (the 7 p.m. edition moved to Fox Soccer Plus effective September 2010). This arrangement dates back to its days as Fox Sports World, and offers updated soccer news throughout the day (along with coverage of other international sports such as rugby, cricket and British horse racing.), along with the morning rundown of English newspaper sports pages.
During the international off-season from May-August 2010 the 2am simulcast of the 7am GMT hour was replaced with a tape-delayed broadcast of Sky News at Ten from SSN & Fox Soccer sister network Sky News, which features a comprehensive recap of the day in sports; likely this was due to 2010 World Cup highlights exclusivity by American rightsholder ESPN, in addition to Sky Sports News converting their operations to high definition. The 2am simulcast of Sky Sports News was restored in August 2010 with the start of the European season.
All simulcasts of Sky Sports News were discontinued on July 1, 2013 as Fox Soccer began their wind-down of operations, with Fox apparently deciding not to carry the program over to either Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2, or Fox Soccer Plus.
From September 2002 to August 16, 2012, Fox Soccer's flagship studio program was Fox Soccer Report (originally Fox Sports World Report), anchored by Michelle Lissel, Eoin O'Callaghan and Asa Rehman, with former Scottish amateur footballer Bobby McMahon, produced by the Shaw Media-owned Fox Sports World Canada at the studios of CKND Winnipeg.
After Fox Sports World ceased operations in April 2012, Fox Soccer made similar arrangements with the Canadian sports channel Sportsnet for a replacement program. The Sportsnet-produced Fox Soccer News began airing August 17, 2012, with hosts Brendan Dunlop, Kara Lang, Ben Ennis, and analyst Thomas Rongen; McMahon also moved to Sportsnet and continued with Fox Soccer News, providing continuity between Fox Soccer Report and Fox Soccer News. It aired nightly at 10 p.m. Eastern (or after a live prime-time match - though highlights of that game would not be included because the show is taped), with a few re-airs overnight and during the morning.
With the launch of Fox Sports 1, the program was replaced by an in-house soccer news program, Fox Soccer Daily, on August 19, 2013 (Sportsnet continued to produce and air the prior program as Soccer Central), though that show was canceled by the end of the year. It was replaced with NFL playoff and NASCAR-focused programming and eventually, a video simulcast of Mike Francesa's radio program.
Fox lost the U.S. television rights to broadcast Premier League soccer events to NBC, and the Italian Serie A, French Ligue 1 and Football League Championship rights to beIN Sports. As a result, Fox Soccer was replaced on September 2, 2013 by FXX, an entertainment sister network to FX. All of the remaining sports programming from Fox Soccer was moved to Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2, which launched on August 17, 2013. FXX's primary focus is on comedies (resulting in FX and FXX maintaining a genre-based format similar to that of TBS and TNT) and features original and acquired comedy series, though feature films and some drama series are also broadcast on FXX - with first-run episodes of some of the channel's original series being carried over to the channel from FX.
Fox Soccer's run ended with a final full run of Being: Liverpool on September 2 from midnight-6am ET (with a FXX disclaimer card before the program), leading into FXX airing the pilot episode of Parks and Recreation an hour later at 7am ET, with paid programming with an FXX disclaimer card in front of each paid program in the hour between. The channel properly transferred from Fox Soccer to FXX an hour later, when a clip of FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi about to score a goal was broken up by Frank Reynolds (Danny DeVito) of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia coming through a leather couch (representing a television screen being "torn" through) being "birthed" in the nude (a scene taken from the 2009 Christmas special episode A Very Sunny Christmas), suggesting the "birthing" of FXX. The last live international event carried was a UEFA Champions League match between Celtic FC and FC Shakhter Karagandy from Celtic Park on August 28. The last live match to be carried by the network altogether was the National Women's Soccer League final between Portland Thorns FC and the Western New York Flash on August 31.