Saturday’s FA Cup semifinal has a matchup that you’d expect to do good ratings in the U.S., with Manchester United taking on Tottenham Hotspur. And it was supposed to be televised on the Fox broadcast network, unlike Sunday’s second semifinal, between Chelsea and Southampton (which is slated for Fs1).
“Supposed to be” is the key phrase there, though, as Christopher Harris writes at World Soccer Talk that plenty of Fox stations are planning to preempt it for coverage of the funeral of former First Lady Barbara Bush:
On Saturday, the Barbara Bush funeral will be televised by many channels from Noon-3pm ET. And the important semifinal between Manchester United and Tottenham from Wembley Stadium in London? That’s scheduled to kick off at 12:15pm ET on the over-the-air national FOX network.
A few FOX stations have either moved Manchester United-Spurs to an alternate FOX station or will join the match in progress after the funeral has ended. For example, WFTX in Fort Myers will join the game in progress around the 60th minute of the match. In Houston, FOX channel KRIV is moving the game to its sister station KTXH, while WSVN in Miami is moving the game to its digital 7.2 station.
FOX News is making a live special report available to FOX networks across the entire country, so there’ll likely be more stations picking up the Bush funeral feed instead of broadcasting the FA Cup semifinal.
What about showing the game on FS1 or FS2 instead? Well, that’s tough when the broadcast stations are making individual calls on whether to show soccer or not, and it should also be noted that FS1 has a scheduled Bundesliga game between Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen, while FS2 has UFC Tonight, UFC Fight Night weigh-ins, and UFC Unleashed. There are those alternate broadcast stations in many markets, and the game will be shown its entirety (but with Spanish commentary) on Fox Deportes; it will also be streamed (with cable authentication required) on Fox Sports Go.
But this is still going to mean that many people either won’t be able to watch this match at all or won’t be able to watch it as easily as they’d hoped. And it could pose some challenges for bars as well as for viewers at home. Expect to see a lot of tweets Saturday from disappointed fans hoping to watch soccer.