Just a couple of quick notes on ESPN’s broadcast of the USA/Holland match and some other ESPN broadcast notes. First, the match was preceded by a 15 minute studio show featuring Alexi Lalas and Bob Ley. Ley brings a professional voice to ESPN’s soccer coverage and he is a better studio fit than Rob Stone. Ley disappeared from ESPN soccer for a number of years but has recently returned. While no longer doing play by play, he adds a certain gravitas to the studio show that makes it seem more professional and less like friends discussing soccer in a living room. Especially for the World Cup, formal is better.
The actual broadcast was somewhat choppy, with camera angle problems and significant stumbling from John Harkes on a number of items. However, ESPN did a better than usual job of promoting MLS within its national team broadcast, and signiifcant time was devoted to pimping the ESPN2 and ESPN MLS openers at the end of March.
The booth team also did a good job (as didottom line) of noting the future USMNT games on ESPN, including the Czech Republic and Turkey matches in Hartford and Philly respectively. Both games will be shown on ESPN2. Interestingly, it took ESPN some time to add Hartford as the location, although that long rumored news had been confirmed for some time.
There was a good mix of national advertisrs for the game, including the postal servcie and Gatorade. Gatorade also bough screen time in the upper left hand corner. It will be interesting to see how well those screen ads sell for the World Cup. Those can be valuable properties during highly watched matches. ESPN also heavily promoted the England/USA game, which will be a weekend contest on ABC.