CONCACAF has not had an English-language television rights partner in the United States since its last deal with Fox expired at the end of the 2015-16 Champions League season. The governing body of soccer in North and Central America and the Caribbean also does not currently have a TV partner in Canada.
This is a bit of a problem, as the 2016-17 CCL campaign begins Tuesday night.
CONCACAF has come up with an intriguing solution: live-streaming games on Facebook. The broadcasts will be free of charge and available worldwide, and the production quality will be it as would be for TV.
The first game to get this treatment will be Trinidad & Tobago's Central FC vs. Major League Soccer's Vancouver Whitecaps at 8 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday.
There will be Spanish-language television coverage on Univision Deportes, and the network will also stream the game on its website. The same goes for the 10 p.m. matchup between Mexico's Pachuca and Honduras' Olimpia.
Univision's coverage will only be available in the United States, which makes it of no help to Whitecaps fans up north. But the Facebook coverage will be available to everyone.
Think about it this way. If you're one of the 47 million or so pay-TV subscribers who get Univision Deportes, that's great. If not, which is better: online streaming via Facebook or TV coverage on hard-to-get Fox Sports 2 and Sportsnet World?
You don't have to be a cord-cutter to know that a Chromecast or HDMI cable costs less than a monthly subscription to a premium TV channel. If you have a way to hook your computer up to your TV, do that.
The honest truth is that isn't much consumer demand out there for the CCL, especially in the United States. Yes, improving distribution would help improve interest, but there's still a ways to go before games "deserve" to be on Fox Sports 1 or equivalent channels. So why not try something different?
For more information, check out my CONCACAF Champions League TV schedule here. I keep it updated with the latest listings whenever they are published.
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