The result may not have satisfied Liverpool supporters, but the coverage of ESPN USA’s first Monday afternoon Premier League game of the season was splendid to watch.
Instead of utilizing the cast of characters from Bristol, CT, ESPN wisely decided to use the feed from ESPN UK. As a result, we were treated to the subdued and low key Ray Stubbs in the studio with Kevin Keegan and Matt Holland in tow as pundits. In the gantry at Anfield was Jon Champion and Joe Royale providing excellent commentary as always.
I especially enjoyed the half-time analysis where Stubbs, Keegan and Holland were straight down to business and analyzed the two first half goals to identify who was at fault. Their clinical analysis instead of the hype and too-much-talk that we’re used to with other TV networks was refreshing.
During the game itself, the use of ESPN’s graphics on screen was clean and unobtrusive. Interestingly, you could tell that the ESPN UK feed of the game didn’t use tickers as opposed to the ESPN US feed because at one time the US ticker ran across the graphics that ESPN UK were using on-screen.
Judging by ESPN’s performance on Monday, soccer fans in both the United Kingdom and United States will be very pleased with the coverage of Monday night football. For ESPN viewers in the United States, though, the Saturday pre-game and half-time analysis needs a whole lot of work as chronicled by Dave Warner in the article ESPN’s EPL Coverage At Its Best When It Stays Out Of The Way.