The expansion of soccer broadcasts available on U.S. television continued with the launch last month of beIN Sport USA. The Miami-based channel, owned by Qatar-based Al Jazeera, outbid competition for the exclusive U.S. rights to the Spanish, Italian and French leagues, as well as to nearly all of the U.S.'s road World Cup qualifiers. There are short-term issues: beIN Sport is only available on DirecTV, DISH and Comcast, and it has no online companion. As a result, many soccer fans who were able to see Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus last season on Fox Soccer Channel, GolTV or on ESPN3 can no longer follow the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo or Andrea Pirlo. The same goes for U.S. qualifiers, like the Sept. 7 loss at Jamaica.
But take the long view. It can only be a good thing that more broadcast companies are investing in the sport domestically; beIN joins ESPN, Fox and NBC Sports, among others, and there are now up to 75 live matches on American TV every week. You can see more English Premier League games in the U.S. than in England.