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News has begun to leak out on the future of Fox Soccer Plus (FSP) and programming carried by it, including Aussie rules football. We caution everyone that what follows is uncertain, not confirmed by any official source at Fox or the AFL, but based on information we have gleaned from multiple sources and web sites. We will update this story as more information becomes available. Updated 8/13/13 with more recent info on the schedule on FUEL/FS2; updated 8/14/13 with more on FS2 availability. This post is about US coverage only and no impact is expected to Canadian coverage. Updated 8/28/13 with confirmation of some details from FOX via the AFL. 

Beginning tomorrow (8/13/13), AFL programs will begin appearing again on FUEL later this week.. On Saturday morning (8/17/13), FUEL will become Fox Sports 2 (FS2). This weekend live AFL coverage, not just repeats, are expected to begin on FUEL / FS2. We are working to add the schedule we've obtained to our web site TV page. Be patient, there is much to do, and we will get it fully updated over the next few days. (As of 8/13/13, we have added all of the FS2 coverage we are aware of but further updates are expected.) At this time, we do not know if it will continue on FSP in parallel to FS2 or disappear from FSP at some point. Initial indications are that FS2 will carry a limited AFL schedule and FSP will continue. We do not know if it will affect Grand Final coverage but we are confident we will have live Grand Final coverage on FSP or FS2 or both. Update: As of 8/28/13, we have the following from FOX via the AFL, in part:


"...It will remain on FOX Soccer Plus, as this network is not going away. We will continue to air at least 2 live matches per round, and ... FOX Sports 2 will also carry between 1-2 live matches per round where the schedule allows – anything that airs on the new network live will also air delayed on Plus when we can. As for the Finals Series, it looks like we may split the matches between Plus & FOX Sports 2, with the Grand Final airing live on Plus as it did last season..."

At this time, it isn't clear which cable and satellite companies will carry FS2 though based on TV and cable industry sources, we expect most companies that offer FUEL will continue to carry it as FS2. Since Fox is not asking for any increased fees for the new FS2 it can make the change in most cases without a new carriage agreement. (This is in contrast to the new FS1 which does not, as of this writing, have carriage on many of the largest cable and satellite companies.) We would further caution fans that FUEL is not widely available in HD whereas FSP currently is HD in many markets. Overall, FUEL is currently in about 39 million homes or about 35%; this is actually less than FSP but because FSP is a premium channel more fans overall might have access to FS2 when it debuts. Companies carrying FUEL and which will probably carry FS2 include DirecTV, DISH, Verizon FiOS, AT&T U-verse, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Brightouse.

The AFL has yet to offer any information on what we should expect however we are in touch with them. The AFL has advised they have contacted Fox regarding footy coverage. We have contacted FOX numerous times in recent weeks regarding this issue but have yet to receive any official response. We will continue to contact them for schedules and clarification of these issues.

Fans are encouraged to contact their cable and satellite providers, as well as FOX, to inquire about future carriage / coverage and to share with AFANA any responses. Please e-mail (forward) those to us or use our contact form on the web site (cut and paste) rather than post comments.

Article last changed on Wednesday, August 28, 2013 - 11:01 PM EDT


Comments

Posted by admincms on August 13, 2013

Hi Fred,

Thanks. There might not be any. However, at the time this was posted that was not yet clear and since then Fox has updated their online schedule further. We will update this article later today (8/13/13). The situation is changing rapidly.

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

Posted by admincms on August 20, 2013

Dennis and all,

We have both the FSP and FS2 schedules updated on the TV page as fully as we know them and both have live and repeat coverage. For now, the majority of the coverage will remain on FSP. Beyond the next two weeks, we expect every finals match to be carried live on one of the channels. We don't know about 2014 and we'll not speculate. I think the current coverage is excellent by historical standards but having said that, I know some of you will strongly disagree.

We will continue to update the above article, if warranted, for another week or so. The TV schedules page is constantly revised with confirmed information as we can get it. My early experience with Time Warner is the same as with almost every other provider: do not assume the on-screen guide is accurate or current or that your DVR is going to automatically catch changes on both channels.

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

Posted by Gregg (not verified) on August 26, 2013

To their discredit, FSP has been pretty tight-lipped about any changes coming to the network, and other than the TV schedule, their website rarely gets updated (the last "News" entry dates to February, and their last Tweet is from May!!)-- in all likelihood, this is probably because Fox's own plans are still unsettled at the moment. However, there was a new entry in the "FAQ" section of the FSP site, and I'll cut-and-paste it here: Q: WITH THE ADDITION OF FOX SPORTS 1, WHAT PROGRAMMING CHANGES WILL THERE BE? A: You’ll still enjoy the same great coverage that you have been accustomed to. Along with FOX Sports 1's soccer coverage, FOX Soccer Plus will offer more matches from the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and FA Cup, plus additional programming that is unique to the channel such as the Scottish Premier League and premium rugby. I will not try and read too much into this, but after reading this it would -appear- that FSP will continue to broadcast AFL at least through the end of their contract. Speaking as a person who is paying a premium to get FSP (and even keeping their subscription to DirecTV to make sure I get that channel), I am disappointed that there were 2 at least games this past weekend on FS2 that were not broadcast on FSP-- again, I pay to see footy, FSP is supposedly the exclusive US cable channel that carries it, and I don't watch -any- other FSP programming. To have them broadcast matches elsewhere (even if it was the Demons getting demolished) is an insult to those of us that make the special effort to get Fox Soccer Plus. On the whole, I've enjoyed FSP's coverage up to this point, but the events of the last 2 weeks have given me pause.
Posted by admincms on August 27, 2013

Gregg,

Thanks for your post. Let me comment on several of your points.

I would not read anything into the excerpt from their FAQ, Aussie rules is not mentioned and from that you can conclude nothing. While it is disappointing, we have yet to get any definitive answer from either Fox or the AFL on the future direction of coverage. All the evidence we have indicates that FSP will remain the primary outlet for the remainder of 2013. Fox Sports has a contract though the end of the 2014 season. You are probably correct that Fox has yet to make final decisions.

I would never rely on their web site as a primary source of information on AFL coverage anymore now than I would have relied on that of Prime, ESPN, Fox Sports World, Setanta, etc. since we started AFANA in 1995. We have always believed that the best information comes directly from those that make decisions: company executives, programming managers, and the AFL. That's why we report articles such as this one (and post schedules) the way we do. We have found company web sites to often be out of date and incomplete. You'd expect by 2013 that wouldn't be the case but it still is.

Contrary to your point of view, AFANA is pleased that a more general coverage outlet without a premium price tag now has live AFL coverage. AFANA's goal, from its founding, has been to spread the word about what we feel is the best sport in the world. Live coverage on any outlet has been something serious fans have asked for over and over. Since the coverage went to FSP, a perusal of comments on this site would show that most fans have been very unhappy (and roasted not just Fox but AFANA) that they had to spend more to get the sport. While I think that it is hard to see how we avoid that given the sport's past poor ratings and lack of sponsorship, a move away to a cheaper alternative is a positive sign. Fox has increased weekly match coverage this year from 2 matches to 3 or 4. Surely, you must be pleased about that. Far from an insult, it is in fact a compliment to the audience response to the coverage this past 18 months. I find it hard to believe you would be unhappy if they moved it all to a cheaper outlet for you so you could stop paying extra for FSP. The audience for the sport has almost doubled in the past two weeks.

Fan reaction to us offline and on Facebook on the changes has been unusually positive. For once, yours is an isolated message of disapproval.

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

Posted by Gregg (not verified) on August 28, 2013

Rob: Thanks for your comment. Since your reply was posted, I discovered that Fox Sports 2 had changed from a pay channel to a free one on DirecTV-- this all occurred sometime in the last 36 hours or so-- when tuning into FS2 this past weekend to see the matches, I was greeted with a pay wall. My original point (and not a well-clarified one unfortunately) was that it's hard to justify subscribing to 2 different pay channels in order to watch the full allotment of available broadcast footy games, and as a paying FSP subscriber, the idea of having to add a second pay channel just to watch the Finals was a bitter pill to swallow. With the new wrinkle of a non-premium channel also offering footy, this changes things a bit, and for the better. I suspect the situation is still very much in flux, but I'll keep my FSP subscription in effect up through the Grand Final, and I'm glad to hear that Fox is leaning towards offering AFL matches on FS2 next season. As I mentioned previously, Fox and Fox Soccer Plus have been unlikely good stewards for the sport in the USA, and it's clear they were interested in growing the fan base this season-- excellent commercials extolling footy are regularly aired during other FSP programming, the number of weekly matches increased from an average of 2 last year and early this year to a minimum of 3 (and occasionally 4) as the season progressed, and there seemed to be a genuine effort to schedule at least one "early" in Oz (prime time for us on the West Coast) match every week. All of which is good news, and I'd like to think that some of FSP's rugby fans have embraced the AFL and will continue to watch. Very happy to be wrong about FS2, and glad that they are now a basic tier channel on DirecTV!
Posted by admincms on August 28, 2013

Hi Gregg,

I have no disagreement that if you had to pay a second premium fee that would be unacceptable to AFANA and I imagine to the AFL also. I believe, from the reports I've seen, that Fox is insisting that FS2 be available in sports tiers and packages and not as a stand alone channel. This should mean that beyond subscribing to your provider's sports channels, you should not have to pay extra for it. I would certainly keep FSP for now.

Thanks for the words of support. I would agree that Fox has done an excellent job promoting the sport and providing quality coverage for it this year. The increase in matches was very welcome.

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

Hi Rob and company.. .just wondering about Fox Sports 1... just recently the Speed Channel became FS1 on Comcast here in the Pittsburgh area. Any word of any AFL coverage on FS1?? Especially the Grand Final?? It seems I've been snake bit the past number of years because of Comcast not picking up channels (Fox Sports World, Setanta, Fox Soccer Plus, etc.)... I have asked them a number of times over the years but no luck whatsoever!! We never had the FUEL channel, now FS2. I'm gonna try my luck again and call them about it. Wish me luck!! Anyways, just want to thank you for all the hard work. I feel eventually it will pay off and all of us will have our footy!!

Don Lutes

Monongahela, PA

Posted by admincms on August 28, 2013

Hi Don,

Given the public statements by Fox about the plans for FS1, I do not expect to see any AFL coverage there anytime soon. I'm hoping we get a simulcast of the Grand Final on FSP and FS2 so it would be more than remarkable if we get FS1 instead.

As for Comcast, they announced in February they would be adding the missing Fox Sports channels (now FS1 and FS2) across the country but from all indications they are not exactly jumping on it. Lots of Comcast customers complaining on the web about this.

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

 Hi Rob and Dennis,

Thanks for your replies. Dennis, before the changeover, I searched through Comcast's channel listings here and could not find the FUEL channel. We always had the SPEED channel however, which is now FS1 and it's on channel 857. Funny 856 is an open channel. You would think they would put FS1 and FS2 next to each other? 858 is the NHL Network by the way. Guess I can only hope here!

Don

Hi Dennis,

We spend hours last night working on this after we became aware that some guides were showing a radically different schedule than we had. We still have queries into Fox and we've exchanged multiple e-mails with the AFL. I believe, based on messages we have seen between the AFL and FOX, that we have the correct schedule. This means virtually every on screen guide is wrong! Here's what I posted on the our Facebook page last night:

OK, here is what we now believe will air. Please note that probably no electronic guide anywhere has this right:
Haw v Syd live 9/6 5:30 AM EDT FS2 (air delayed on FSP 9/8 at 5:00 PM)
Geel v Fre live 9/7 12:00 MN FS2 (delayed on FSP at 9/8 at 8:00 PM)
Coll v Port live 9/7 5:30 AM FSP
Rich v Carl live 9/8 1:00 AM FSP
If you have questions, let us know & we'll try to help.

Now, it may turn out that what Fox does and what it says are different. There are lots of teething pain at Fox Sports right now and they have been very confused by the finals format, terminology, changing times (due to the Australian Federal Election on Saturday), etc. Lots of folks at Fox are in new jobs. As with the screw up on the one match last weekend, anything is possible.

-Rob
AFANA Chairman Emeritus and Site Admin

Posted by Swans500 on August 28, 2013

Don...I live in Monroeville and only this week had a Comcast salesman at my door trying to get me to return to Comcast after 2 years on Verizon Fios...I told him that to even think about that I would need to know that Comcast had Fox Sports 2 AND Fox SP! At least for this year. He could not guarantee me FSP but assured me that they now had Fuel...just changed to FS2...so...you should have access to the over in Monongahela??!!

Dennis...

Posted by Jake (not verified) on August 14, 2013

> Initial indications are that FS2 will carry a limited AFL schedule and FSP will continue. I understand that this is a fluid situation, but interesting if Fox continues to keep FSP going for a while. With DirecTV, I'm paying about $15 a month for FSP, so it's a money-maker for Fox in that respect. It's been nice in recent weeks where we've had three (and sometimes four) AFL games on FSP. Wouldn't mind that through the rest of the regular season (as short as it is at this point) and then all games in the post-season. Haven't paid enough attention to what space is going to be like trying to merge programming on a number of channels into FS2. I'll kind of miss FSP when/if it eventually goes away. I like what they've done with the AFL and I also developed a love of NRL through FSP. Can't imagine we'll get so many of those games if Fox is just down to FS1 and FS2.

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