This weekend was a momentous one in the history of cable sports broadcasting, as Fox Sports One went live and NBC Sports began their EPL era. While the Grand Old Lady ESPN pretty much went about business as usual, NBC and FOX are both trying to call this weekend a success.
For soccer fans, the EPL on NBC debut was the biggest story. With some cable providers all of the matches were available in some form (in the Fox Soccer days, a Fox Soccer 2 Go subscription was necessary to supplement the TV coverage), and the league champion Manchester United opened their season on over-the-air broadcast NBC.
The match against Welsh Swansea City drew the largest overnight rating ever (0.8) for a Premier League opening weekend match. The match was one of three Saturday broadcasts across NBC and NBC Sports Network, and combined the matches averaged a 0.5 rating up 67% from last season's three match average with one match on ESPN and two on Fox Soccer (0.3 rating).
Washington DC was the top market for United v. Swans (2.2). Los Angeles came in at (1.2), trailing Tulsa, Austin, Seattle, and Buffalo. Philadelphia, Seattle, DC, and LA were the only MLS markets to appear in the top ten. NBC Sports will broadcast Manchester City vs. Newcastle on Monday, a slot that was traditionally ESPN's under the old package.
Fox Sports has moved on from losing the EPL contract, turning Fox Soccer into a FX comedy channel and Speed into Fox Sports 1. August 17th was the first day of FS1, with a UFC fight as the headliner. Fox would like you to know that FS1 outperformed the combo of Speed/FSC/Fuel ten fold compared to a similar night a year ago. Fuel was the channel with UFC, Fox Soccer was non-existant in primetime, as was Speed unless they had a NASCAR event.
Fox has improved with the rebranding, however they're still behind the strides NBC has made. It will still be interesting to see how the sports cable landscape continues to shift in the upcoming months.