The United States National Team was in Genoa, Italy on Wednesday to take on the Azurri in an international friendly. I thought I would use the opportunity to offer a business blog of the match and its telecast on ESPN2. The broadcast started with some background on the city of Genoa and the match courtesy of Ian Darke. Darke’s partner in the booth was former New England Revolution forward and new MLS color man Taylor Twellman. Gatorade sponsored a “primed to perform” moment at the outset. The first break featured a soccer specific add courtesy of Allstate. That was followed by ads for Gatorade, Aqua Velva, Allegra and local spots.
After the break, the focus went to the studio with the excellent Bob Ley, Alexi Lalas and Steve McManaman to discuss the status of the game and the team. After the studio bit, there were commercials from Chrysler, Lens Crafter, Gameflow.com. Prilosec OTC and ESPN spot. There was no presenting sponsor for the studio show or for the match. Gatorade was the first on screen advertiser during in-game action. The ESPN2 bottom line was a constant presence during the match. AllState also purchased an on-screen spot.
In the 15th minute, Darke offered the first promo for the ESPN2 broadcast of the EPL for the coming weekend. It took until the 27th minute for Mike Piazza to make an appearance. The first MLS promotion came in the 30th minute. Both the Galaxy and David Beckham rated a mention in addition to the First Kick match featuring Portland. The Algarave Cup also received attention in the 33rd minute. Full credit to Taylor Twellman for citing to Grant Wahl’s CNNSI piece about Dempsey when discussing the midfielder.
Darke is always excellent, but one legitimate criticism is the seemingly endless references to the EPL throughout the broadcasts. Almost every anecdote includes a Liverpool reference, an Arsenal memory or a Norwich recollection. Darke’s reference points are obviously based in the UK, but it detracts from the broadcast when seemingly every event is referred back to some English soccer happening.
At the half, Allstate had the first spot, followed by ESPN Films, Aqua Velva, Selson Blue to Bosch. The halftime show featured the same cast of characters joined by Taylor Twellman to discuss MLS. The Hall of Fame got a mention as did other international matches. Other spots included Lens Crafters, Duracell and Gatorade. Local spots also got some play. Geico.
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