The signs haven’t been good, but now you know.
According to a tweet from @ComcastWill to PSP, Philadelphia area Comcast subscribers will not only be unable to watch Friday’s USMNT away qualifier against Antigua & Barbuda live on the as yet unavailable beIN Sport English language channel, no date is known for when the English language channel will be available to area Comcast subscribers.
Currently, only beIN Sport en Español is available to Comcast customers (channel 583).
While the US game is being shown live on beIN Sport’s English language channel at 6:55pm , beIN Sport en Español will be showing an abbreviated delayed broad cast of Bolivia v Peru at 6:30pm. At 7:50pm, the channel will be broadcasting Argentina v Uraguay live.
What’s beIN going on
When beIN Sport was officially launched on Aug. 23, carriage deals were only in place with Dish Network and DirecTV, who combined only reach approximately 7 percent of US television households.
Philadelphia soccer fans had good reason to be upset. The new soccer channel had not only secured the rights to major leagues such as La Liga and Serie A, they had the rights to every USMNT away game in CONCACAF’s 2014 World Cup qualifying tournament.
Most soccer fans in the Philadelphia area get their international soccer coverage by subscribing to a sports package on Comcast, so when a carriage deal was soon announced on August 24 between the locally based broadcasting giant and beIN Sport, the initial response was positive, particularly given that the USMNT was due to play Jamaica in a qualifier on Sept. 7.
On Aug. 30, Jonathan Tannenwald reported, “I was told that Comcast plans to have the channel up and running by September 6.”
On Aug. 31, the @Comcastcares Twitter account tweeted, “Comcast is working to have @beINSport available to @xfinitytv customers by the World cup qualifying matches.
Philly soccer fans breathed a sigh of relief.
Then, on Sept. 4, Comcast tweeted that beIN Sport “will launch in Spanish SD only. HD and the English version will be available at a later date as well as online streaming.”
Not only would the English language channel not be available to area subscribers, a Twitter exchange between Tannenwald and a Comcast representative later that day confirmed that online streaming would not be available in time for the USMNT World Cup qualifier against Jamaica on Sept. 7.
To the great frustration of US Soccer fans across the Philadelphia region, the USA v Jamaica qualifier was not broadcast live on beIN Sport en Español, which was available to subscribers to Comcast’s Sports Entertainment package. Only the result of the match softened that.
Still, the message was clear: if you wanted to see the USMNT’s away qualifiers live, you needed access to beIN Sport’s English language channel.
More than a month later, Comcast is still working on making beIN Sport’s English language channel available to Comcast customers. According to a message from a Comcast to PSP, area Comcast customers will be unable to watch yet another live broadcast of a US World Cup qualifier.
On Tuesday, @ComcastWill tweeted in response to a question from PSP, “Local markets are planning to start rolling out beIN Sports in English in the months ahead.”
So, there you have it: Not only will the US World Cup qualifier against Antigua & Barbuda not be available live to Comcast subscribers, no firm date is available for future away qualifiers.
This is especially disappointing news giving the great efforts the Comcast-owned network NBCSports has been putting into its soccer broadcasts, not to mention Comcast’s relationship as the Philadelphia Union’s local broadcasting partner.
If you are a Comcast subscriber and you want to see Friday’s qualifier legally, beIN Sport en Español is showing a delayed broadcast at 3am. If you didn’t know already, to watch the broadcast in English, follow the advice so helpfully provided by @JeepMattDE way back on Sept. 6: “For beIN Sport, on the box, menu, audio setup, set default to English – the new Spanish version of beIN Sport will be in English!”
Hope you’ve got a DVR.