The distribution issues facing Fox Sports 2 are slowly coming to a head.  Yesterday the neat and tidy schedule of Fox Sports got hit with a curveball as the NASCAR race in Bristol faced a lengthy rain delay.  When it was restarted in the evening, coverage moved to Fox Sports 1.  That meant the MLS match between NYCFC and Portland was booted to Fox Sports 2.

MLS fans, especially Comcast subscribers without access to Fox Sports 2, were not happy.  MLS lifted the US blackout on MLS Live, but it wasn’t enough to appease the soccer faithful, many of whom were stuck without the game on television, or stuck with it in standard def.

Fox Sports broadcaster John Strong sent this message on Monday to fans to start demanding Fox Sports 2 to be on their systems:

Fox Sports 2 is the definitive weak link in the Fox Sports empire.  It’s only in 45 million homes (up from 37 million), which still places it near the bottom of all the major national sports networks.  Comparatively speaking, Fox Sports 1 is in 85 million homes.  Both ESPN and ESPN2 are well above 90 million.  And many of those homes with FS2, like mine, don’t get the channel in HD.

This is the dilemma that faces Fox Sports 2.  In fact, MLS games airing on the network was a contentious part of negotiations because of the crappy distribution and HD offerings.  No league really wants their games on FS2, and rightfully so.  Every time Mike Francesa gets bumped to Fox Sports 2, he and Mongo Nation grumble as well.

This is a story that isn’t going to change anytime soon.  In fact, it’s probably going to become more prominent as more high profile events and live programming come to FS1 and FS2.  With the Women’s World Cup having games scheduled for Fox Sports 2, there’s going to be even more complaints about lack of distribution and HD carriage in the near future.

Even though it’s going to anger some fans, Fox Sports desperately needs to get more games on Fox Sports 2 to justify A) more carriage for the channel and B) higher fees for the channel.  There’s no other way to accomplish what Fox needs to do with FS2 to make it a legitimate cable sports network.  But until Fox can get to that point, there are going to have to be some growing pains along the way for fans that see the games they want to watch scheduled or moved to FS2.

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