For all of the stick that ESPN gets for displaying their annoying ticker on the bottom of the screen during Premier League matches on ESPN2, I feel that Setanta Sports gets an easy ride for how they handle the situation, while Fox Soccer Channel is ignored.
Let me explain.
During the matches that Setanta Sports show on Saturdays at 10am ET, the broadcast routinely uses its “Game Flash” (sometimes known as “Score Flash”) feature in the top left corner to display the latest scores from the other matches. While ESPN’s ticker is easier to block out (either by not looking at that part of the screen, raising a hand to block it from your sight or placing tape across the bottom of your TV set), at least ESPN gives you a warning that the ticker is going to appear so you can be prepared. With Setanta’s Game Flash feature, the scorelines from other matches pop up with no warning.
For example, while watching this past Saturday’s match between Stoke City and Manchester United on Setanta US, I was annoyed to see the Game Flash feature popping up several times during the broadcast to reveal the latest scores of several games including Liverpool’s thrashing of Hull City, and Tottenham’s hammering of Burnley. For me, it ruined my plan of watching the Liverpool against Hull City game later.
In Setanta’s defense, the reason it shows the Game Flash feature is because it’s what Setanta Ireland shows. And in order for Setanta subscribers in the US to watch the pre-match and half-time analysis by Paul Dempsey and Pat Dolan, Setanta US has to use the Setanta Ireland feed.
Nevertheless, for all of the flack that ESPN gets for including its annoying ticker, I feel that Setanta avoids getting criticized a lot probably because they have far fewer viewers and, as a result, far fewer people who watch the games and complain.
In my opinion, the soccer network that gets overlooked and ignored regarding the whole ticker/Game Flash controversy is the one who handles it in the best manner, Fox Soccer Channel. The network learned the hard way during the 2006/2007 Premier League season when it used a ticker during Premier League games. At the time, Fox received a ton of angry e-mails from viewers. And then made the smart decision to not use a ticker during its Premier League games thereby not ruining the surprise factor for soccer fans in the United States who timeshift and watch games on delay.
With more and more TV coverage available to us than anytime in the history of soccer in the United States, it’s becoming increasingly difficult not to find out the scores of the games before you watch matches on delay. All it takes is one commentator (thank you Tim White), a quick look at the Internet or Twitter, an inconsiderate co-worker or a TV network that doesn’t understand or care how soccer fans experience their games on television (ESPN) to ruin it for you. There’s nothing worse than watching a soccer game when you know what the final score is, which sucks all of the excitement out of a game. I guess all we can do right now is persevere and not complain too much. Beggars can’t be choosers, right?