[TELEVISION WATCH]The first big World Cup 2014 qualifier of the year will take place June 12 when the USA travels to Guatemala City to face Guatemala (kickoff: 10 p.m. ET), but fans will only be able to watch the game on pay-per-view television. Like the rights to Honduras-USA, the deciding game of the Americans' 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign, rights to Guatemala-USA were sold by the host federation to a third party who did not resell the live rights to a U.S. broadcaster. The cost to watch Guatemala-USA? The suggested retail price is $29.95 ...
In Concacaf, a federation holds the media rights to its home World Cup qualifiers. As has been typical for many years around the world, third-party agencies will buy up these rights and attempt to resell them for a profit.
In the case of Guatemala-USA, the Guatemalan federation sold the rights to Traffic Sports in both English and Spanish without requiring it to resell the English-language rights to a broadcaster. (Traffic also owns the rights to the U.S. qualifiers at Jamaica and at Antigua & Barbuda later this year.)
U.S. Soccer reported that it and its broadcast partners had discussions with Traffic Sports to purchase the rights, but the agency opted to distribute the match on pay-per-view in the United States, utilizing the services of Integrated Sports Media to handle the distribution via pay-per-view on cable or satellite providers. (Integrated Sports will also air qualifiers involving Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Jamaica and Canada in June.)
In 2009, the Honduras-USA match was almost exclusively available in Honduran or Latino establishments that showed the game on a par-per-view basis. The USA won, 3-2, to clinch a berth in the 2010 finals.
"What's good for the sport, that's U.S Soccer's agenda," Integrated Sports Media president Doug Jacobs told AP. "We're a private business. I'm a soccer fan, and the alternative was a lot worse. It could have been as it was in 2009, closed circuit. It's the lesser of two evils."
Four days before Guatemala-USA, the U.S. national team will open qualifying under Jurgen Klinsmann against Antigua & Barbuda in Tampa. That game will air on ESPN, ESPN3, Galavision (kickoff: 7 p.m. ET).