The reaction to Jack Bell’s column and the lively debate this past weekend in the comments section got me thinking. A lot of the debate is whether Fox Soccer Channel should target the die-hard soccer fan as a viewer or the mainstream American who may only have a passing interest in the sport.
My answer is that it’s neither. Fox Soccer Channel is trying to please the advertisers, not the fans.
It may be hard to digest. After all, we spend so much time watching the channel that we feel as if we can have an important say into what the network should or shouldn’t show. But it’s really the advertisers who have the clout. Sure, the viewers are important. After all, without them, there’d be no viewing figures for Fox to share with its prospective advertisers.
Regarding Bell’s comments that he’d rather have American personalities on Fox Soccer Channel so the network can avoid the Britishisms in its speech, that’s ridiculous. Rather than make it a debate about whether to use English announcers or American, it should be whoever provides the best quality coverage, not their nationality.
Don’t forget that Fox has tried MLS shows in the past. MLS Wrap with John Harkes and Sean Wheelock bombed although the concept was good. The first episode of “MLS Saturday on Fox” with Todd Grisham, meanwhile, was an abortion which was the fault of the production crew and not the wrestling announcer.
If Fox does want to improve their network, here are five recommendations:
- Leave the TWI feeds of the Premier League matches as they are and don’t cut in with your FSC personalities immediately as the half-time whistle or full-time whistle blows. You’re currently not adding any value by doing this and a couple of minutes of additional wrap-up from the English commentators would be far preferred.
- Trim Fox Football Fone-In from two hours to one. Two hours is just agonizing. One hour will make the show that much tighter.
- Make Fox Football Fone-In a debate show and less glitzy. Keep Steven Cohen and replace Nick Webster with someone that’s more opinionated and less smarmy.
- Create a weekly football analysis show. Fox desperately needs a thinking man’s show that dives deep into match and player analysis, which will help educate the viewers on the technical aspects of the game. The show will also give the viewers an opportunity to hear intelligent debate about meaty topics and learn more about the history of the game at the same time. Two hosts spring to mind: Bobby McMahon and Christopher Sullivan (although the latter needs to be reigned in to keep him more focused).
- Put Super Sunday + out of its misery. The show didn’t work on a Saturday and it doesn’t work on a Sunday either. Possibly the best thing going for it is the set and that’s really sad.
Bonus Tip: Develop a MLS show that is quality. Maybe it’s time to call Sean Wheelock again and pair him up with someone else to make this formula work. I agree with Bell that a news and highlights show is needed to create more interest in the league.
What ideas do you have for how to improve Fox Soccer Channel? Post them below by hitting the ‘comment’ link.