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ESPN's Euro 2008 Dream Goes According To Plan

espn logo ESPN's Euro 2008 Dream Goes According To PlanESPN and ABC’s dreams have come true. Sunday’s Euro 2008 final between Germany and Spain is a far better proposition for the Disney owned TV networks than Turkey against Russia would have been. With plenty of German Americans living in the United States as well as a massive hispanic population, TV ratings should be high.

Overall, the amount of attention that ESPN has given to Euro 2008 this summer has far exceeded my expectations. The games seem to be a centerpiece of the network’s coverage and has even been the lead story on some of ESPN’s other sports programs.

The work that ESPN has done this summer is to be applauded. Everything from the TV commercials to the broadcast of a different European Championship final each night leading up to the tournament, as well as the way that ESPN has been cross-promoting the tournament on its own shows, has been fantastic.

Inside the studio, the only mistake the network made was hiring Julie Foudy. While she is exuberant on the set, she adds little to no worthy analysis. As the weeks have passed by, she has grown on me, but ESPN would have done better to hire someone who really knows his or her world football and has more passion than Foudy. That person is Ray Hudson.

What struck me this week is that there really isn’t a TV network that football fans love globally. In the UK, many viewers despise the BBC, ITV and Sky Sports. In the United States, Fox Soccer Channel often gets ridiculed. But with ESPN, they have a unique opportunity to produce high quality soccer coverage. They’re experts at production. Plus they have a soccer expert in Derek Rae as well as a hired hand such as Andy Gray.

Derek Rae, especially, has been a joy to listen to this summer. His level of football commentating as well as his knowledge of the game, the statistics and his impeccable gift of knowing how to pronounce difficult words and speak other languages puts him into the top tier of football commentators. While Andy Gray seems to talk down to Adrian Healey a little bit during matches, Gray and Rae strike up a dynamite partnership. Both Scots are still trying to get used to working with each other, but you can tell that Gray has a lot of respect for his fellow countryman.

The big question is where does ESPN go from here? The next World Cup in 2010 still seems far away. The obvious choice would be for ESPN to enter into the bidding later this year against Setanta Sports and Fox Soccer Channel for the rights to show the English Premier League in the United States. FSC’s current contract with the Premier League runs until 2010.

About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
View all posts by Christopher Harris →

14 Responses to ESPN's Euro 2008 Dream Goes According To Plan

  1. Kartik says:

    Andy Gray is so very biased and clearly knows zilch about players not based in the PL or on the top clubs in the other top leagues.

    Another subject and a bitter one at that. Why are so many E glish commentators and writers so blatently biased against the Germans . I have sene numerous articles and blog posts in the last 72 hours originating from the UK claiming no German player outside of Ballack is good enough to play on the top PL side and that England has far better players than Germany. Also I have seen stories about how little quality Germany has and how little talent they have. When will these people finally get over their transparent bitterness about Germany’s success. For years the British media has tried to disparage the Germans and their football style by applying a british standard to the football, and somehow implying it is tainted. Martin Samuel is a lone exception to this worrying and pathetic trend among British writers.

  2. Hudsonland says:

    Andy Gray, knowing nothing about players outside of the Premiership, is still way, way better than Tommy Smyth.

    The anti-German bias, such as it is, is part of the English national psyche. The bastards keep winning by manifesting their national persona in their football team. Stolid, making up for a lack of flair and real creativity with hard-work, discipline and regular invasions of neighbouring countries, the English hate Germany because they succeed where we fail (also without real flair and falling back on a common work ethic).

    And I’m ok with that. Everyone’s got to have a nemesis, are we supposed to love ours rather than hate them?

  3. betsy's bolton bum baster says:

    WOW!!!! I mean WOW!!! Why do the English hate the Germans? Do you not know ANYTHING about European history? The Germans sort of bombed England. The Europeans all have deep down hatred for centuries of fighting, it is starting to subside but the wounds from WWI & WWII are still there.

  4. charlie says:

    its like india hating pakistan, come on you yourself should know that.

  5. betsy's bolton bum baster says:

    I like to consider India like a unified (in terms of borders and nothing else) Europe.

    India is full of so much diversity but unified is the last word I’d use to describe it’s people. There is plenty of conflict even within in that country, not even counting Pakistan, China, etc., that I’m sure Karthik can relate.

  6. Sanjay says:

    Whether the English writers admit it or not, there are at least 5 or maybe 6 players on the German national team who would walk into the English team. I’m talking about the likes of Ballack, Podolski, Schweinsteiger, Klose, Lahm, maybe Frings as well..

  7. Andreas says:

    Common… The English team has lived on hype over decades. Even their 1966 World Cup victory was only made possible by a referee’s blunder.
    Germany’s pedigree as a national team is much much higher then the English. And our team is a team and that counts!

  8. Kartik says:

    Yeah but let’s be real here.

    Charles DeGaulle sits in Britain during WWII leading the Free French and once France is liberated he buddies up with Adenhour.

    Do you want a history lesson on WWI Betysy Bolton’s Bum Baster?

    Who started the war? Was it the Germans? Or was it the Serbians killing the Archduke and the system of alliances perpetuated by the British and Frnech partly because they were colonizing the whole world something I remind you Europeans that call today’s Americans “imperialists” we did not do. Read Wilson’s 14 points and you’ll understand the American mindset on these matters. Had France treated Germany with more respect in the treaty of Versailles the whole horrible thing your nation and my jewish friends endured in WWII would have likely been avoided. (my wife is jewish BTW) Maybe you like your history simple and like to blame the Germans for everything. Well it’s never that simple.

    But for journalists to be so transparent in their agenda is pathetic. They have a responsibility otherwise. Oh and by the way, you are the ones who have made the Germans so worried about expressing any sort of nationalism that their previous tournament triumphs have had muted celebrations while other European fans can ransack towns and shops when they play.

    BTW, as someone with dark skin as was pointed out above I faced much less hostility in GERMANY than in any other place in Europe in my travels many years ago. These days things are alright throughout Europe but 20 years ago Germany was much tolerant. Certainly more so than the UK I must add, since one of you keeps using racist code towards me.

    BTW, we don’t practice multiculturalism in the US like in the UK. WE ARE ALL AMERICANS. In the UK, Tony Blair’s embrace of multi cultural ism leads to things like Joey Barton’s brother killing someone based on race. We don’t have that here. Yes we have crime, lots of it but it is hardly if every simply based on race.

    It’s funny that some of you profess to try and “teach” me history. I know more about European History and especially Roman History than all of you on this site. The Gaffer is a good man as are the article writers but many of the posters here (simon, hudsonland, and a few others excepted) are complete provocateurs who hide behind a handle and feel they can incite trouble and attack people from behind their handle and keyboard just for having an opinion. It is truly pathetic.

  9. How can we take German talent seriously when their best keeper is Mad Jens?

    But more seriously…the sooner that ESPN take over the EPL coverage, the better. In a nutshell, it’s all about HDTV.

    This fantastic tournament has looked even better in HD. ESPN has two HD channels already, yet FSC and Setanta admit they are years away from getting to that level.

  10. Hudsonland says:

    Besty: ‘Why do the English hate the Germans? Do you not know ANYTHING about European history? The Germans sort of bombed England. ”

    I don’t think the English hate the Germans because of WW2, it’s because of two penalty shoot out defeats (1990 and 96). Same goes for Argentina; it’s not the Falklands, it’s the Hand of God.

    Sanjay: “Whether the English writers admit it or not, there are at least 5 or maybe 6 players on the German national team who would walk into the English team. I’m talking about the likes of Ballack, Podolski, Schweinsteiger, Klose, Lahm, maybe Frings as well.”

    Not Frings, and probably not Klose. Podolski, Schweini and Lahm have been great (and great counterexamples to the stereotype of the German footballer). Ballack seemed to disappear against Turkey. I just don’t see who these English writers are that are supposedly saying otherwise.

    Phil: “This fantastic tournament has looked even better in HD. ESPN has two HD channels already, yet FSC and Setanta admit they are years away from getting to that level.”

    It’s gonna suck hard if this is the last we see of HD until 2010. It has been simply awesome.

    Regarding the other crap – I enjoy watching soccer. A football team is often seen as a personification of the town, city, region, or country it represents, and is considered to possess some of the characteristics associated with that region. This element can add so much to the experience of watching two teams play.

    In the case of the Germans, they are regarded as a nation as being efficient, somewhat humourless etc. In 2006, the football team adopted a style with much more flair and dash, and that itself seemed to represent a new birth of the German nation, as they threw off their inhibitions about celebrating themselves. I think that rebirth both on and off the pitch was welcomed in the English press, at least the bits that I read (I imagine The Sun may have had other feelings towards a resurgent united Germany).

    So anyway, I still don’t buy this ‘English media biased against the Germans’ line. To actually prove one way or the other you would have to compare reports in many outlets across many nations to prove that the English press consistently had a lower opinion of the German team than any other country’s media. And maybe you’ve done that, but I suspect you’re basing your views on purely anecdotal evidence.

  11. Kartik says:

    Don’t count on FSC for ANYTHING HD related soon. Hopefully GOLTV will come thru sooner.

    FSC is such a cheap outfit. I’m surprised they have taken on the expense of sending a studio team to MLS matches. I doubt they can also manage to keep the Prem rights much longer.

    Honestly, if FSC has a contract with MLS, why is the MLS coverage so much better on GOL TV’s American Soccer show and its nightly GOL TV news? Why doesn’t FSC take advantage of showing MLS matches and buy some CONCACAF qualifiers involving nations other than the US? Again, GOL TV did that.

    Gaffer, time for another FSC v GOL TV thread here. You guys know where I come down.

  12. Hudsonland says:

    FSC vs GolTV thread?

    Is this how we pass six weeks without football?

  13. Kartik says:

    Well we have football next week.

    The Copa Libertodoras final is next week!

    Many leagues in Latin America and Asia are currently playing also.

    Oh yeah and USL 1 and USL-2 are playing also if anyone cares.

  14. Pingback: soccer tv ratings united states

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