A Guide To Watching English Football In The U.S.
One of the most frequent objections that casual American fans make to watching English Association Football is that they are not familiar with how to watch English Soccer in the United States. In fact, many people believe that there are only a handful of games available to watch, when in fact it is possible to watch all of your favorite team's games on your favorite television and/or streaming device. This includes, not just Premier League games, but also the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, EFL Carabao Cup, and Emirates FA Cup game. This alone can be confusing. As you can see, top tier English Teams play in 5 different leagues, and a single team can be playing in as many as four of these leagues at the same time.
When I first tried to start following Arsenal back in 2006, it quickly became frustrating to me. First, it really was more difficult to watch English Soccer in the United States back then. Simply, not as many games were televised unless you purchased an extremely costly satellite package. However, what I found to be most frustrating is that when games were shown, there was a seeming randomness to who the opponents were. In other words, in the world of American sports, professional teams only play in one league at a time, and only play teams within that league during a season. When I would see something like, Arsenal playing some random Spanish team on a Tuesday for instance, I would be asking myself questions like, "Is this an exhibition?". I was familiar with the concept of friendlies from international competition, so having never had something like the Champions League explained to me I assumed these games were something similar. That's why I have decided to created this handy guide to how each league works, and how and when to watch them.
Watching English Premier League Football In The U.S.
Quite possibly the most famous league in the world, all of the English Premier League games are broadcast in America on either the NBC family or networks, or through their premium NBC Gold subscription. With nothing more than a basic cable subscription, you can usually watch anywhere between 5 and 7 games on an average weekend between broadcasts on NBC, NBCSports, and sometimes alternate networks like CNBC. Games are ordinarily played mostly on Saturday, with a few featured games on Sunday. There are alway frequently "night games" on Fridays or Mondays. There are also occasionally mid-week games, especially around Christmas and New Years.
One fair warning is that you will need to wake up early to watch some of these games, especially if you live on the west coast. On Saturday's there is usually at least one game that starts around 7:30 AM Eastern time, which is 4:30 AM in California. Luckily, most of the games usually start around the 10 AM Eastern time slot. A late "Game of The Week" similar to what us American's would call Sunday Night Football, usually kicks off around 12:30 PM Eastern on Saturday, and this game is usually shown on NBC broadcast network. On Sundays I usually find myself finishing up the game that starts at 11 AM Eastern just in time to flip over to the RedZone Channel and settle in for a day of American Football.
About The NBCSports Gold Premier League Pass
Any of the Premier League games that are not broadcast through the NBC family of networks are available through the NBCSports Gold Premier League Pass. The pass cost $49.99 at the beginning of the season, and that price has now been cut in half as seen above. If you are the kind of fan who wants to be able to see all of your team's games, then this package is a steal. Not only can you stream all of the games live, but there are also replays available. Sometimes, when a high volume of games is on at once they offer a mosaic option where you can watch several games at once on a divided screen. They also offer a full screen view, or a tactical view that allows you to see real time stats, lineups, and formations.
If all of that wasn't enough, with this plan you don't just get the games, but also loads of exclusive content throughout the week. This includes daily news programming, in depth match previews, and replays of classic matches. On a number of message boards I have heard complaints from folks who want to see all of the games for free. While that would obviously be nice, when compared to the $300 price tag for NFL Sunday Ticket, plus the additional weekly content, NBC can gladly take my $50 for this.
The UEFA Champions And Europa Leagues
The UEFA Champions League is considered by many to be the premier competition in all of association football. The UEFA Europa League is the Champions League's little brother of sorts, and is the second most prestigious club competition in Europe each year. These leagues run roughly during the same months as the Premier League season, and anywhere between 4 and 5 English teams qualify for the Champions League. The top 4 in the previous year's standings automatically qualify, and a team winning the previous year's Champions or Europa League could also qualify as a 5th team which is the maximum that can qualify.
The Europa League spots usually go to the 5th and 6th place teams from the previous year's Premier League. There are also scenario's where winning the EFL Cup or FA Cup can come into play in terms of qualifying for these tournaments as well. The easiest way to explain the relationship between these two European tournaments is that they are similar to how the NCAA Mens College Basketball Tournament and National Invitational Tournament function in the U.S. That is in that teams that play in the NCAA Tournament are playing for the overall championship, where is the NIT is for teams that weren't quite good enough to make that tournament. The Europa League is similar to the NIT in this scenario. The big prize for winning the Europa League is automatic qualification in next year's Champions League.
Watching The UEFA Leagues In The United States
If your favorite team is lucky enough to qualify for the UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Europa League, or you just want to watch two of the most important competitions in the world, then Bleacher Report Live and TNT have you covered. As can be seen above these tournaments cover a number of months and rounds, and all of the games from both tournaments are available with the Bleacher Report Live Soccer Pass. There are also usually 2 games per match day shown on TNT. These games usually happen on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and are usually during business hours in the U.S., so Bleacher Report's unlimited replay capability is extremely useful. Europa League games are not broadcast on TNT, but can often be seen on your local Spanish Language networks, so it can be worthwhile to check around the guide.
The cost for the Bleacher Report Live Soccer Pass is $10 per month, and is on a month by month basis with no long term commitment. You also get access to additional content such as games from the Scottish and Belgian leagues. If you want to make sure you see all of the English teams play, then this subscription is a must, as the games shown on TNT tend to feature teams like Barcelona, and PSG. If you just have one favorite team that you want to watch, they also offer games on an á la carte bases for $3 per game. Also, keep in mind that since it is a month by month pass you can always cancel during the summer when there aren't any games.
The EFL Carabao And Emirates FA Cups
Both of these tournaments are knock-out style tournaments that are open only to English teams based on various qualifications. The EFL, or League Cup as it is often referred to is open to any "league teams" in England. By "league teams", they mean any of the teams that are in any of the top 4 tiers of English football. This meaning the Premier League, EFL Sky Bet Championship, EFL Sky Bet League One, and EFL Sky Bet League Two, which is a total of 92 teams. The FA Cup in an open tournament that includes not only all of these teams, but also any team that wants to enter. The only qualifications is that you must have your own stadium and pay the entry fee. In 2018-19, there were 736 teams that entered the tournament.
Although these tournaments are almost always won by a Premier League team, there are many instances every year where lower league teams knock off much bigger clubs. This aspect of David vs Goliath gives these two tournaments a big appeal to folks who enjoy rooting for the underdog. Although it hasn't happened in the modern era, these tournaments are also a chance for the smaller clubs to qualify for the Europa League. The EFL Cup winner automatically qualifies for the 3rd qualifying round of the Europa League, and the FA Cup winner gets directly into the Group Stage.
Streaming English Cup Game In The U.S. On ESPN+
Of all the streaming services we have mentioned, ESPN+ is by far the most comprehensive. This service offers unlimited streaming of all the Carabao Cup games, and a majority of the FA Cup games, up to and even including some games featuring non-league teams. There are also a number of EFL Championship games broadcast each week, and even an occasional League One match up. While if you interest is primarily in watching the Premier League or the Champions League, you may want to opt for one of the other services, if you are simply looking for the most soccer for your money, then this is for you. I have also been able to set this up through my XBOX so that I can stream these games through my regular TV.
In addition to the English leagues mentioned above, ESPN+ also offers coverage of the Italian Serie A, the Dutch Eredivisie, MLS, UEFA Nations League, Australian Hyundai A-League, and more. Also, while the other subscriptions we have mentioned require separate subscriptions for their other sports programming, ESPN+ is an all inclusive service, and in addition to being the most inexpensive per month. The downside to this package is that the level of competition in most of these leagues is just not quite on the level of the Premier League or Champions League. I will also note ESPN+ is under contract to broadcast all of the USL Championship games, including Phoenix Rising Football Club, through the 2019 season but seems to have been removed from the list of leagues on their website.
Watching EFL League Soccer In The U.S.
If you are into the drama of the lower, and smaller clubs trying to fight there way to the top, these games are becoming more accessible to watch in the U.S. as well. Unfortunately, there is not an all inclusive package yet, but most of the teams offer a season pass through iFollow. Any team in the EFL Championship, League One, or League Two can offer a season pass through iFollow. At the beginning of the season it was $140 for a season pass per team, however half season passes are now being offered for $64. Unfortunately, there are still many teams that have not opted in, including my beloved Accrington Stanley.
The good news is that games can also be purchased á la carte. The bad news is that they are a rather costly $7 per match. The other issue that I have is that when I have purchased these I have had difficulty with accessing replays beyond the initial live viewing, even though they are advertised as being included in the á la carte purchase. Overall, the feed quality is very good with this service for something that is coming from a minor league game from overseas. This is a rather new services, but I hope to see it continue to grow and improve, as well as becoming more affordable and offering all of the teams. Still, it's a huge step in the right direction in terms of being able to watch these English soccer games in the U.S.
More Soccer Than Anyone Could Ever Watch
Next time someone tells you that they can't fine a way to watch English soccer in the U.S., they will need to look no further than this article. In fact, Americans now have access to watching more English and other European League football than ever before. There are literally more games available through various streaming services than any one person can ever watch. I am also aware of the growing number of streams that are available through social media, and sites like Reddit, however, for the purposes of this article we chose to focus on the "official paid services".
While I am just as big of fan of finding things for free as anyone well, I chose to go this route because we wanted to make sure that I was providing folks with the service that I believe provides them with the most reliable way to watch the games on a high quality stream. While I do review each service of sorts, I do not necessarily recommend any one over the other as each provides different content. All of the services listed above are used by both myself, and my co-hosts, and we are both satisfied with, and give our endorsement to all of the services that we have listed in this article.