How Should Fox Soccer Channel Commentate International Matches?

fox-soccer-channel1.jpgWhat would you do if you were in charge of Fox Soccer Channel’s TV coverage? The dilemma is that you’re trying to establish your own brand and to build an audience with your own personnel, but soccer fans — as you’ll probably agree — are difficult people to please. We always want perfection.

A perfect example is this past Saturday’s England against Kazakhstan World Cup Qualifier that was shown live on Fox Soccer Channel. Hosts Nick Webster and Warren Barton did a fine job in the beginning of the show with expert analysis and discussion. But when the game started, soccer fans were startled to hear that Webster and Barton continued their discussion into the game and didn’t hand over the commentary, as is customary, to the international feed — which would have been Clive Tyldesley and Gary Stevens.

While Webster is a decent analyst, he is no soccer commentator. So instead of commentating the game, it feeled like Webster and Barton were simply talking over the game and providing their analysis. Webster’s style improved later when he began commentating on the game itself, but I always had the feeling that I was missing out on something — that one of the commentators from the international feed would have been able to impart some wisdom that Webster would have missed.

The dilemma for Fox is that GolTV does the same thing but with better results. Few people seem to complain when Ray Hudson and Phil Schoen commentate on the World Cup qualifiers that GolTV broadcast. It’s quite rare that GolTV will broadcast the commentators from the international feed.

So what would you do if you were Fox and you wanted to feature your commentators? Would you have someone like Max Bretos or Christian Miles do the main commentary instead, and have Webster and Barton provide the studio analysis only? Or would you suggest something different? Let us know by clicking the comments link below and sharing your thoughts.


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