TV Notes: ESPN & Soccer

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.

3 Responses

  1. Bob Ley pronounces names in a way that screams “I DON’T WATCH SOCCER MUCH!”.
    I like Bob Ley (good overall sports mind, funny, an open interview. etc), but he isn’t cutting it with most diehards that follow the sport in multiple countries.
    Non fanatics will probably like him…

  2. Point of note, it looked like the actual game footage was not an ESPN feed, but the Dutch feed. The coverage / replays were Dutch centric (PK replay after Kuyt sub, not US freekick which took place immediately before sub). This contributed to Harkes not performing well in the booth. That being said he was awful. JP and John don’t seem to stick to play-by-play and color commentary roles (respectively), rather they shift between them. Sometimes they seem to carry on conversations despite the game being played in front of them.

  3. Interesting Ryan. I don’t know how much he watches soccer, but has been doing ESPN soccer coverage for almost 20 years. Names are an issue though.
    I think that fans are typically too hard on broadcasters for some nit-picky things, but good point on the coverage Phil. I typically hate the world feeds because it shows things that I don’t want to see (coach reactions, etc…)

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