If a German soccer match is played and nobody can watch it, does it make a sound?
When it comes to the most entertaining leagues in world soccer, the German Bundesliga is always a fixture at the top of the list. The league features a true continental power with an absurd all-star lineup in Bayern Munich as well as teams strong teams that have won titles or contended in recent years like Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen, Schalke, Wolfsburg and others. The league features high scoring, competitive games with huge crowds all across the country. And coming off of Germany’s World Cup triumph this summer, interest in German soccer should be higher than ever with a majority of the squad playing in their home league. In fact, the start of the Bundesliga season this weekend is one of the highlights on the sports calendar.
The only problem is you probably can’t see it.
GolTV owns exclusive American television rights to the Bundesliga.
Nobody carries GolTV anymore.
When beIN Sports launched in 2012, it won the rights to most of Europe’s major leagues outside the English Premier League. Their current lineup includes Italy’s Serie A, Spain’s La Liga, France’s Ligue 1, England’s Championship, and various World Cup Qualifiers. Most of these rights were snatched away from GolTV, making the latter channel irrelevant. In fact, on most major providers, GolTV was replaced in the channel lineup by beIN Sports. The channel is now available to a shrinking number of providers on expanded tiers, often in Spanish language only or in standard definition. For instance, DirecTV now only carries GolTV in its Spanish language pack in SD.
It’s a mystery finding out who exactly carries GolTV these days - the latest updates on their corporate website are releases from 2012. An attempted search on GolTV’s website for its upcoming schedule reveals an error page. Given the startling lack of carriage and lack of functionality, it’s hard to believe GolTV is still a working channel. Quite frankly, it’s a miracle GolTV has even survived this long after beIN Sports took its place two years ago.
This is a real shame because of the entertainment offered by the German league and the explosion of high quality soccer across a multitude of networks and platforms. American soccer fans don’t know just how good they have it right now. There are more games available now from more leagues than ever before. We get more access to more Premier League games in America than they do even in England! And yet, in this golden age of soccer growth, somehow arguably the best league in the world is hidden from sight, playing its games in secret on a channel nobody carries. It’s like the Bundesliga doesn’t even exist.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel, though. This is the last season of GolTV’s contract with the Bundesliga.
Beginning next season, the league moves to Fox Sports and its variety of channels on a 5-year contract. If Fox can follow NBC’s blueprint with the English Premier League and promote the heck out of Germany’s World Cup stars, there’s a huge market for potential growth. Between Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2, and Fox Sports Go, there is plenty of space for a comprehensive package of German league games each and every week to be made available.
Soccer fans who have been out in the cold for too long will welcome the Bundesliga as a major presence on the American televised soccer landscape with open arms. They just have to wait one more year to do so.