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Fox 6 Decision: Historic Soccer Broadcast or Infomercials for Eggies and the Brazil Butt Lift

Fox 6 ran taped paid programming Sunday in place of the first live US network broadcast of an English League soccer match disappointing (non)viewers like Whitefish Bay Patch blogger Peter Wilt.

The headline is a bit misleading as the Fox 6 programming options for Sunday did not include the “Brazil Butt Lift, the Supermodel’s Secret to a Perfect Butt”. The Butt Lift infomercial had been snapped up by a local Fox 6 competitor and was being shown simultaneously on WVTV Channel 18. 

Fox 6 did choose, however, to carry taped programming including infomercials Sunday morning instead of a historic live broadcast of a Barclay’s Premier League soccer match. I sent Fox 6 a list of questions Sunday about the decision, but they have yet to respond to my inquiry. So I’m not sure if their programming folks don’t realize that Milwaukee historically has been one of America’s great soccer cities or more likely, they simply don’t care.

Fox 6 Vice-President and General Manager Chuck Steinmetz lives in Whitefish Bay and is active promoting Blue Dukes football and local Little League. He rose through the ranks as a sales executive and surely puts a premium on the direct money generated from the infomercials, but surely must also recognize the importance of not alienating swatches of his audience. I'm guessing this issue didn't reach his desk until the public outcry this weekend, which was too late to make any changes.

As a matter of background, please consider that Milwaukee obtained a national reputation as a great soccer market before most other American cities picked up on the sport. Generations of locals were early adopters of the sport and helped develop Wisconsin’s well-earned reputation. In fact, scholars say that students at Carroll College played the first recognized game of soccer in the United States near Milwaukee in Waukesha, Wisconsin on October 11, 1866.

Early 20th century immigrants from Germany, Poland and elsewhere in Europe created ethnic based soccer clubs in Milwaukee earlier than many other parts of the country. The Milwaukee Kickers Soccer Club launched in the 1960s and quickly became the largest soccer club in the world. The Bavarians SC, founded in 1929, earned respect and six national championships before other cities knew what a soccer ball looked like. 

The area produced some of soccer’s greatest stars on and off the field in the United States in the latter part of the 20th century.  These included US Soccer Federation President Gene Edwards, United States World Cup Head Coach Bob Gansler and World Cup player Jimmy Banks. The “soccer Johnny Appleseeds” in Wisconsin sowed the seeds for the incredible growth of the sport throughout the state and country. Their efforts led to success on both the amateur and professional levels. Professionally, the Milwaukee Rampage won the outdoor A-League national championship in 1997 and 2002. The Milwaukee Wave, founded in 1984, is the oldest continuously operated professional soccer team in the United States or Canada and has won five indoor league championships.

I mention all this evidence of Milwaukee as a great soccer community to contrast the reality of the ignorant and condescending manner the sport of soccer was treated Sunday by Fox 6. Its decision to pre-empt the historic broadcast of the Manchester United vs. Arsenal match Sunday morning in favor of infomercials and pre-taped outdoors shows served to insult Milwaukee’s large and passionate soccer community.

The broadcast was historic, not because it featured the matchup of two of the world’s highest profile clubs, but because it was (in most of the country anyway) the first Barclay’s Premier League soccer game to be broadcast live on US network television.

All of the network affiliates seemingly had to make room in their Sunday morning programming for the broadcast. Most did. In fact, 90 percent of the United States had access to the live broadcast on the Fox network. Thanks to local Fox 6 executives, however, Milwaukee was in the 10% kept in the dark for three hours until the match was shown on a delayed basis head to head against the AFC Championship game. Milwaukee was one of 23 of Fox’s 185 affiliates that chose to air something else instead of this historic broadcast. Most were small markets such as Billings, Montana, Minot, North Dakota and Macon, Georgia. Miami, Cleveland and Atlanta are the only markets of Milwaukee’s size or larger that refused to air the game live. None of those markets has the soccer tradition and reputation that Milwaukee does. 

Fox 6 likely committed to the paid programming before the game was made available by their network. More than 160 of their network siblings were able to adjust their scheduling to accommodate the historic broadcast. I suspect executives at Fox 6 didn’t bother to try to work an adjustment out with their paid programming partners.

Instead of the match, Fox 6 aired paid programming from Discover Mediaworks - Discover Wisconsin and Into the Outdoors (both pre-packaged Wisconsin tourism promo vehicles) and infomercials for Eggies and ski resorts.  

Fox 6’s decision to tape delay the game instead of moving the paid programming caused a storm in social media circles among angry fans who wanted to watch the game live.  Twitter posts included a customized hashtag (#Fox6HatesSoccer) and the following G and PG rated comments (there was plenty of less family friendly Tweets that I omitted):

 

@kebzach Congrats @fox6sports RT @Deadspin: Corky Romano And The Other Things Your Fox Affiliate Is Showing Instead Of Soccer http://t.co/oLBDGC8W

@jairobonilla @fox6now - Why are you guys not showing Arsenal vs Man U? Don't you want viewers? Why delat the @FoxSoccer game tomorrow? #Fox6HatesSoccer.

@JoshWoolwine #Fox6HatesSoccer,  Thank goodness I'm in Neenah

@matchpricks #FOX6HatesSoccer Why won't Milwaukee TV show Arsenal-United live? 1 of 6 in America to delay the game! Ridiculous. @arseblog @jackwilshere

@finetoothcombs @fox6local can't even be bothered to show Arsenal-Manchester United like the entire rest of the country. Pathetic #Fox6HatesSoccer

@championspub Bar of soccer fans and no live coverage of #epic match #fox6hatessoccer

@djz3rocool #fox6hatessoccer 11,000 pissed off phone calls and a bar full of pissed off hooligans, the PD from fox 6 needs resign http://t.co/Slozoguz

 

And from the Fox 6 FaceBook page:

Andrew Groetzinger  What is wrong with your idiot programmers? A live broadcast of any sport, no matter what sport, should supersede any weekend morning news program. Nobody likes to watch something on tape delay unless they DVR it themselves.

 Bill Prange  Glad to see you decided to air paid programming instead of the soccer game this morning, even though the soccer game was supposed to be aired on national TV on FOX. Do you let the interns handle your programming on Sundays or something? What a joke. Amateurs.

Brent Atema  I live half way across the country and just wanted to let you know that this station is a disgrace for not showing the match live. If you believe that any publicity is good publicity than you are doing well. But from the comments I've seen about your station from people all over the country, I'd say this is a major PR hit. I honestly had never heard about the Milwaukee FOX affiliate before - but I have heard a lot about it today. Nice work.


I did reach out to Fox 6 management on Sunday and through their contact page asked them to respond to criticism for this blog post.  These are the questions I asked:

I am writing a blog post on Whitefish Bay Patch about the Fox 6 decision to preempt and delay the live broadcast of the Manchester United vs. Arsenal match today.

Please let me know if you can have a representative call or email me with responses to the following questions for publication by 6 pm Monday (tomorrow).

Q.  Why was the game broadcast live in 90% of the country, but not in Milwaukee?

Q.  Did Fox 6 consider or try to adjust the other programming by negotiating with the infomercial providers?

Q. How many complaints did you receive and is this considered a large number?

Q.  Do you believe this paid programming is better for the community than the soccer match?

Q.  Do you believe this situation will be repeated in the future/what steps are being taken to prevent it from happening again?

Q.  Is there anything else you would like to say to viewers who are upset or disappointed about this programming decision?

Thank you very much.

Best Regards,

peter

 

I have yet to hear back from Fox 6 even though I included both my phone number and email address and their contact page seems to assure a rapid response:

“Do you have something you'd like to share with the FOX6 News or FOX6Now.com team? We want to hear about it, good or bad.

Simply fill out the form below. Be as complete as possible. We'll address your comment, question or concern as quickly as possible.”

 

If I get a response after this is posted, I will add it in the comment section below.

I try not to get too concerned with traditional media’s ignorance of soccer.  After all, soccer is a young person’s game and traditional media skews older both in consumers and decision makers.  Support and interest in soccer has been greater in each ensuing generation over the last 50 years. Several factors including globalization, the growth of Major League Soccer and the improvement of soccer talent at all levels ensure that the sport’s growth will continue into the next generations. 

The mainstreaming of soccer in the United States is inevitable.  Things will be different in the future when more decisions such as the one made by Fox 6 executives are made instead by people who grew up appreciating and respecting soccer. By that point, people like those executives will be in retirement homes watching Brazil Butt Lift infomercials on cable, while soccer games like Sunday’s will be broadcast live nationwide as they deserve to be - even in Milwaukee.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Steve January 25, 2012 at 05:24 AM
Nobody watches soccer. Get Directv if it interests you. I feel bad for those in the news that have to read these emails and press the delete button while providing a free service.
Bob McBride January 25, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Did you try contacting anyone in the sports department over there? Disappointing perhaps but not really surprising. See if you can figure out what market 6 is after by spending 10 minutes (if you can tolerate it that long) watching that horrendous local show they run for a couple hours every morning - I can't, really. Maybe the reason the complaints from soccer fans went mostly unacknowledged is that they were still all reeling from 18's apparent coup regarding the Brazilian Butt thing you mentioned above. 6 has alway struck me as being gimmicky and out-of-touch throughout the years. What else really is there to say about a station that counts amongst its top 5 all-time most memorable on-air news personalities a cat puppet?
peter wilt January 25, 2012 at 03:09 PM
HaHaHa...i miss Albert! i did Tweet Tom Pipines and Jen Lada, Neither responded on this subject, tho Jen later retweeted a comment i made on Prince's Tiger signing. i'm sure the decision was out of their department and that's fine. It's a business decision. i just think it was a poor or at least short sighted big picture business decision.
peter wilt January 25, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Ahh...right...and by "nobody", you're referring to the 25 million US viewers that watched the 2010 Men's World Cup final - the same as Game 7 of this past World Series and more than each of the previous 35 World Series games: http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118021651?refCatId=4025 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Series_television_ratings Or the 13.5 million US viewers of the Women's World Cup final on CABLE last summer: http://www.deadline.com/2011/07/more-big-soccer-u-s-tv-ratings-womens-world-cup-final-sets-record-for-espn/ Steve, just because most of those tens of millions of Americans watching soccer aren't old white men doesn't mean they're "nobody"...i can say that, cuz...well...i'm an old white man. :)
Matt Schroeder January 25, 2012 at 04:30 PM
I agree that the decision was not in the hands of the sports dept. — I think I saw a Tweet to that effect. But I would say as far as interest, the 2010 World Cup was a big turning point. While lots of regular sports fans still are not fans of soccer, necessarily, neither do they deride it anymore. Many enjoyed the World Cup for what it was, a top-notch global event with a compelling U.S. presence, masterfully presented on TV. And the old media guard who relied on the old, tired anti-soccer arguments all sounded like they were drowning in 6 inches of water. Because the hate for soccer in the U.S. has largely dissipated.
Bob McBride January 25, 2012 at 06:52 PM
So do we boycott Eggies? What's the plan here? Start encouraging people to use the correct pronunciation of Tom Pipines last name? Resurrect the likeness of Albert and P-shop him onto a shot of someone bicycle kicking one into the net? I'm in for whatever.
peter wilt January 25, 2012 at 07:59 PM
agreed. There are many more passionate soccer supporters, many more casual followers (mainly due to family involvement) and more apathetic members of the media. The hate isn't what it used to be.
peter wilt January 25, 2012 at 08:15 PM
God no, don't boycott Eggies! It's not their fault (i don't think) and a successful Eggie boycott could decimate its parent "SafeTV Shop, LLC" and its other brands "Onion Bully", "Bubble Dough", "Upsy Daisy", "Micro Maid", "Gyros Bowl", "K9 Glow Guard", "Curly Cubes" and "Pet Hair Picksy"...that could bring down the entire U.S. economy. i really would like to hear a response from Fox 6. For all i know, they really did try to adjust their schedule, but Discover MediaWorks and SafeTV Shop refused their make good offers...doubt it, but until we hear from them it's prolly too soon to plan the OccupyFox6 movement. I'll send them a reminder and a link to this post.
peter wilt January 26, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Fox 6 President and General Manager Chuck Steinmetz, who resides in Whitefish Bay, was kind enough to respond to me via email last night and it sounds like they recognize the error in their ways and have identified a solution for future Sunday morning soccer conflicts - use of their digital sister station 6.2. 6.2 is called "Antenna TV" and is channel 986 on Time Warner Cable. Antenna TV happens to be one of my absolute favorite channels in the history of television. It specializes in hit movies and retro reruns such as "The Flying Nun", "Leave it to Beaver", "Hazel", "Dragnet" and "The Monkees". So it is with some sadness that I have to advocate for the premption of "The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin" and "Here Come the Brides", but all in the name of soccer progress! Character limits mean i'll have to put our email exchange in the next comment below.
peter wilt January 26, 2012 at 02:35 PM
Here is our email exchange in its entirety. I really do appreciate the President and General Manager of the station responding in this manner and look forward to seeing future Barclay's Premier League matches live on Fox 6 or 6.2. Subject: Re: Soccer Peter: Sorry for the delay - I was sent your email today regarding the soccer match delay. Long story short, the primary reason we delayed the event was because there are certain programs we are obligated to run (by the FCC) in specific windows - they are called E/I programs - educational programs that we air on Saturday and Sunday mornings. I have spoken to the network and we are working on a way to air future events live on our sister station 6.2. Thanks. Chuck Chuck Steinmetz | President/General Manager | FOX 6 WITI TV | AntennaTV 6.2 WITI Subject: Re: Soccer Chuck, Thanks very much for the response. Appreciate it. Was there an attempt to move the E/I programming to another qualifying time slot? Could it have been moved to the 12:30 pm to 3 pm time slot when the game ended up running or another time for instance? Best Regards, peter Subject: Re: Soccer Peter: Moving E/I programming is very complicated and regimented - especially when it is more than once. Hope this helps. Chuck Chuck Steinmetz President/General Manager WITI FOX 6 www.fox6now.com Character limits hits again. Final exchange of emails in next comment.
peter wilt January 26, 2012 at 02:36 PM
Subject: RE: Soccer Chuck, ...one more question. Is the paid programming from Discover MediaWorks and SafeTV Shop itself considered E/I programming or was the E/I programming elsewhere in the schedule, which prevented the paid programming from being moved to another time slot? Thanks again. peter Subject: RE: Soccer Peter, Into the Outdoors is the E/I programming Chuck Steinmetz President/General Manager WITI FOX 6 www.fox6now.com
CowDung January 26, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Personally, I'd love to see more Premier League soccer on broadcast TV. I don't love it enough to spending the money on cable/dish/uverse to get the soccer channel though...
The Donny Show January 26, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Bigger question......what got better ratings? E/I or pansies running around (until they fake an injury) in short pants?
The Donny Show January 26, 2012 at 04:29 PM
I prefer the Butt Lift.
peter wilt January 26, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Fair, if not politely stated, question. The ratings were not great partly due to the time slot, lack of promotion and failure to reach all markets. The overnights registered a 0.9 which i believe would have translated to about 10,000 people in the Milwaukee ADI if it were televised live here. Fox execs however, seemed happy with the numbers. Here's an interesting comment from a Forbes article on this subject that indicates Fox is pleased or pretending to be pleased with the ratings: "In addition to the live game that Fox broadcasted last Sunday, it plans to air another live game on Super Bowl Sunday. The game will be labeled 'the game before the game', and will feature Chelsea against Manchester United. FOX Sports Co-President and COO Eric Shanks explained that “We see a tremendous opportunity to broaden exposure in the U.S. for the world’s best soccer competitions.” He also points out that “We’ve broken viewership records with each subsequent FOX broadcast and we are thrilled audiences are responding as we make matches more widely available.” Here's the link: http://www.forbes.com/sites/sportsmoney/2012/01/24/fox-sports-making-a-big-push-in-the-soccer-market/
Mike January 27, 2012 at 05:58 AM
Fox could make a bundle if they fully ignore the likes of the Donny Show and Steve whose heads are so far in the sand as to not be able to tell a money-maker if they see one. Properly marketed, weekend morning premiere league games would expand the lucrative sports viewership market. I often was disappointed when the network would tease a Barclay's League game after the Packers, and the local affiliate would supersede with FOX Blitz, or whatever they called it.
The Donny Show January 27, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Not sure Mike understands ratings. The lucrative sports viewership market on a Sunday morning? Really? If that were the case, the NFL would move their games then. Fox 6 and ALL stations put on what will get them the best ad dollars. Soccer doesnt get ad dollars. FACT! It is OK to have a point Mike, but it DOES have to make sense. Soccer is not really a sport either.....j/k. Or am I? ...
peter wilt January 27, 2012 at 04:20 PM
@ The Donny Show You wrote: "Soccer doesn't get ad dollars. FACT!" i'm guessing the all caps and exclamation point is your attempt to provide supporting evidence to your "fact", because the simplest of searches would reveal that your "FACT!" is actually your "opinion" and not a very solid one at that. Try $100,000,000 annually in soccer advertising sold by Major League Soccer's marketing arm SUM alone. MLS also receives rights fees from its broadcast partners NBC, ESPN and Univision. NBC pays $10 million per year for their rights. Oh...and here is some backup to these "facts": https://soccer.fakesigi.com/soccer_united_marketing_revenue.html ...and one more fact. Fox and Telemundo recently agreed to pay $1.2 Billion (yes, with a "B") for the rights to the 2018 and 2012 World Cups. Backup for this fact: http://espn.go.com/sports/soccer/news/_/id/7130785/fox-sports-wins-bid-espn-nbc-televise-world-cup-2018-22
Bob McBride January 27, 2012 at 11:29 PM
Peter, semi-related... What's the deal now with the Bavarian Inn? We were trying to remember who's running that now. My brother seemed to think it was on one of the local soccer clubs?
peter wilt January 28, 2012 at 06:19 PM
The Inn closed March 12. Its website and phone number are both disconnected. Last i heard was from this J-S article in March: http://www.jsonline.com/business/117711043.html It says the Bavarian Soccer Club "and its financial backers" purchased the property including the Bavarian Inn and have a new business plan. I don't know what their plans are for the Inn itself, but I imagine running it themselves as a public restaurant is not in the plan.
ratboy1013 January 31, 2012 at 10:39 PM
WITI has announced that this Sunday's match will air live on their digital 6.2 channel in addition to the taped-delay on FOX 6.
CowDung January 31, 2012 at 10:45 PM
What match will they be showing on Sunday?
ratboy1013 January 31, 2012 at 10:49 PM
Chelsea/ManU
CowDung January 31, 2012 at 10:56 PM
Thanks. Chelsea has to start playing better to have any hope of moving up in the standings. If Rooney is out, I like their chances this week.
peter wilt January 31, 2012 at 11:47 PM
Chuck Steinmetz sent me an email earlier today confirming the news Ratboy1013 posted above. I really appreciate his attention to this. i started a new hashtag on Twitter: #Fox6lovessoccer :)

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