Fox Soccer Match Day: Two Thumbs Up
Now that I’m home recovering, I’m living in a bizarre world of not knowing what any of the scores were from this past weekend’s opening season. Reason being is that I don’t want to spoil the pleasure of knowing the score as I watch each of the matches that taped via DVR. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to watch the matches that played on Setanta because I own an ITVN player and, of course, on-demand or DVR are not available with that IPTV solution.
The first program on my list to watch was Fox Soccer Channel’s new “Fox Soccer Match Day,” the channel’s new Saturday morning show starring Christian Miles and Andy Houlihan.
Soccer fans in the United States have been quick to criticize Fox Soccer Channel’s original programming in the past. Sure, I agree that much improvement is needed but I must admit that I was thoroughly impressed with the debut episode of “Fox Soccer Match Day.”
The graphics, titles and presentation of the programming are top rate. The studio set was impressive and the claret and blue backdrop reminded me of Aston Villa (sorry Hammers fans). Hosts Christian Miles and Andy Houlihan meanwhile had an excellent rapport and on-screen presence between the two of them and delivered the news, analysis and previews in a professional manner instead of hyping it up too much which has often been my complaint of fellow Fox Soccer Channel media personalities.
One of the most impressive aspects of the show, for me, was the way they integrated the show into the Premier League action. Beginning at 9:30am ET, the show had an opportunity to present the latest EPL news (John Terry being out injured for a month, etc) and then previewing the weekend’s action before coming back and talking about the Major League Soccer match of the day that Fox would be showing.
But the way that the “Fox Soccer Match Day” then led right into the Premier League match between West Ham United and Manchester City, and the way that the half-time and post-match analysis went back directly to the “Fox Soccer Match Day” program and set was fantastic. It really felt like Fox Soccer Channel was an extension of the Premier League action rather than in the past where a voiceover would annoyingly cut into the TWI commentators immediately after the match concluded, etc.
My only two criticisms for the debut show was that they were late in handing over the commentary to the TWI commentators for the West Ham match, which resulted in us hearing from the English commentators several seconds after the match kicked off. And Christian Miles uttered the following statement at the end of the Hammers match before they went to break: “You’re watching the Barclays Premier League and it’s only on Fox Soccer Channel.” I’m sure Setanta Sports wouldn’t have been too pleased with that statement.
For soccer fans who only have Fox Soccer Channel or who watch Premier League matches on DVR (and are able to tape both Setanta and FSC), “Fox Soccer Match Day” is a must-watch TV program.
The challenge though is for the soccer die-hard fans who have both FSC and Setanta Sports and who prefer to watch their matches live. The 7:45am ET match on Saturdays doesn’t end until 9:50am ET, which means that soccer fans have to decide whether to miss the last 15-20 of the match shown on Setanta or watch turn the channel and watch “Fox Soccer Match Day” from 9:50am ET onwards instead.
Because of the time when the show begins, “Fox Soccer Match Day” is “a nice program to watch” instead of must-see. If I was in charge of Fox, my recommendation would be to begin “Fox Soccer Match Day” at 9:45am ET (after the 7:45am ET match concludes) and continue the show all the way through to the conclusion of the 12:15pm ET match, which finishes around 2:15pm ET.
This way, Fox would be able to preview the 10am ET match from 9:45am to 10am ET, return for the half-time analysis and highlight, come back at 11:50am ET for post match analysis and news about the other matches on Fox that day (MLS, Serie A, etc), go back to the live football match at 12:15pm ET, step in for the half time and then wrap up everything after the conclusion of the game from 2:15-2:30pm ET.
This way, Fox will provide approximately 75 minutes of expert coverage on “Fox Soccer Match Day” between 9:45am ET and 2:30pm ET. It would be a long day for Miles and Houlihan but it would go a long way to enhancing the Fox Soccer Channel viewing experience and would enable Fox to consistently carry the “Fox Soccer Match Day” brand throughout the entire day of Premier League soccer on Saturdays.
If Fox is completely against beginning their show at 9:45am ET on Saturday, a solution could be to begin the “Fox Soccer Match Day” at 9:30am but spend the first 15 minutes focusing on Major League Soccer and Serie A. And then at 9:45am, Fox could then start talking about the English Premier League.