Why Is ESPN2 Experiencing Technical Difficulties With EPL Games?


Georgie Bingham doesn’t have the easiest job on television, that’s for sure. From that early morning Saturday kickoff in August when ESPN kicked off its coverage of the Premier League to the last match shown between Bolton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur, Georgie has experienced the highs and lows of being the presenter of the Premier League coverage on ESPN2.

The highs have been turning the coverage over to the beautiful HD broadcast and the sights and sounds of the build-up in the tunnel before the game kicks off — something which we continue to miss out for games covered by Fox Soccer Channel who run TV commercials during that part of the broadcast. Other highs include the pre-match, half-time and post-match analysis from Bingham, Robbie Mustoe and Tommy Smyth.

The lows have been the technical difficulties.

For the most part, viewers have been more than patient taking into account the growing pains and ESPN being a brand new network showing Premier League games on US television. The HD broadcasts allow us to be more patient than usual because we know that the bounty waiting for us (i.e. HD quality broadcasts) is worth it.

The technical difficulties thus far have not been catastrophic by any means. It’s usually the first 30 seconds or so of the match where problems are encountered. The worst was last weekend’s Bolton against Tottenham match where it took a few minutes at the beginning of the match to fix the issues.

Thankfully, Bingham does a decent job of ad libbing and chatting about the tactics and previous form of the clubs to fill up the time until the game resumes.

I was curious why ESPN has been encountering these technical issues while Fox Soccer Channel and Setanta Sports have not. According to ESPN, “the technical difficulties we have originate from our interest in presenting the Barclays Premier League matches in HD (high definition) to U.S. fans.  We are working very closely with our providers in England to resolve the technical glitches.”

The issues experienced by ESPN should be a warning to Fox Soccer Channel who will be launching their HD coverage of the Premier League in January. Let’s hope they can learn from ESPN’s experiences so they can avoid the same issues.

23 thoughts on “Why Is ESPN2 Experiencing Technical Difficulties With EPL Games?”

  1. It does seem strange in todays world of live broadcasting from remote spots of the plant that a soccer game from London experiences such technical problems week after week. When they could ESPN switched to their own UK produced broadcast stream, I guess it’s not entirely theirs actually but it goes out over their UK network. Would their own production cure the problem? Do they have problems connecting to the international feed? Maybe. I would like ESPN to eventually produce their own product in it’s entirety and see how much better that is.

  2. Wasn’t the Confederations Cup on ESPN? From South Africa? I don’t seem to remember these kinds of problems.

    Yes, it’s a small beef, but it is annoying. Georgie and Robbie are fine, but I’m really there for the football, not to listen to them make TV small talk. This has dragged on long enough to make ESPN look bad.

    1. ESPN has cheated in the past with their “HD” presentations. FIFA events, the Euros, and Champions League finals have all been broadcast in “HD” but really they were just like watching a high quality DVD.

      They’ve made an effort to show the Premier League in true HD and that effort has resulted in the technical difficulties.

  3. It’s not so much the technical glitches that bug me. It’s the lack of a true HD picture like we usually get on ESPN2 on the Monday afternoon games. I know it’s probably not ESPN’s fault, but I wonder why in this day and age ALL football isn’t being shown in HD. Sports like hockey and basketball (which are far less rich and popular than soccer) are all HD. Why can’t the the world soccer media find the money?

  4. I suspect the issue is with ESPN’s video conversion computer, which has to upscale the 576i video from Premier League Productions to 720p HD video on those 10am ET EPL telecasts.

  5. I wonder how long it will take for DirecTV to start showing the FSC in HD? I was talking with their customer service representative (for an unrelated matter, my dog chewed up and destroyed my HD-DVR remote, lol) and mentioned I had heard FSC was going to be HD in January, and she “checked” and said she didn’t see anything about it.

    Despite the glitches, I am happy enough with ESPN at the moment..being in HD makes me put up with much!

  6. CA,

    That’s something that concerns me also.

    So, FSC is going to go HD in January…that certainly does not mean that our cable/satellite companies are going to carry it.

    I’m concerned that it won’t be carried by my company…I mean I could get BBC America in HD in Oklahoma, but I recently moved to New Mexico and am with a much, much bigger national cable provider and they don’t have it in HD here. So, it really does concern me.

    It didn’t use to bother me that FSC wasn’t in HD, but now that the games are carried on ESPN in HD…I’m really starting to notice the difference in quality.

    I know I could contact my cable company…but, who knows which black hole my concern/request will end up in.

    Anybody else concerned about this??

    1. I think we all feel that the better quality of the ESPN picture has been a great help to viewers. Frankly, and I’m not out to knock FSC, but the ESPN presentation is like watching a different game. It seems that your closer to the game and the park instead of watching from afar on FSC. No kncok here just a feeling.

      1. Fox sports (besides their American football coverage on network) is generally very subpar. I’m not too much of a stickler, and still enjoy FSCs coverage of the sport. But you can definitely see the difference. Being and Oregon Duck football fan, we see many games on Fox Sports Net. The difference between this and ESPN/ABCs & CBS coverage is HUGE. It makes the product look inferior.

        1. The worst aspect of FSC is their continuing use of banner ads splashed across the screen; the entire FSC presentation is on the cheap, with flashing adverts, botched-up club line-ups at the beginning of each match for additional commercials…well, I could just go and on. And for the life of me, I fail to understand why FSC feels the need to create wraparounds for the American audience. Any person interested in English football doesn’t require the likes of Christian Miles to explain the situation; why can’t we have the whole bloody Sky Sports broadcast; it’s all Mr. Murdoch, isn’t it?

    2. I DirecTv last week because of all the channels they have devoted to
      Champions games. Thanks to the blogger in here who brought that to our attention!! I also got rid of cable because they did not have Setanta. Direct Tv has more HD channels than Comcast so thats another reason. Its with that reasoning that I believe (read:hope) DirectTv will have FSC in HD before my ex cable company.

      As far as the ESPN issues, they dont bother me as much as the fact that their early morning game is not in true HD! While it certainly looks better than SD on FSC, quality is rather disappointing.

  7. DirectTV had made a strong committment to football in the U.S. (carrying Setanta and showing all the Champions League games on extra channels), so I would imagine (read: hope) they would pick up FSC HD. By the way, with FSC be showing both EPL and UEFA in HD or just one of those leagues?

  8. I’m more concerned about Fox’s treatment of the Champion’s League so far, the stoic, single commentator feed is not working. The premier club competition in world football deserves better than a NCAA, type atmosphere. If USL matches can have colour commentary so can the Champion’s League.

    1. I completely agree. However, The gaffer addressed this a few weeks ago. They are using the UEFA feed. Last year, ESPN paid Derek Rae and Tommy Smyth to call the games from the studio in the US. Lets hope FSC will shell out a few more dollars to pay some real announcers and mute the UEFA feed.

      1. Well that’s the thing: Rae and Tommy, even from the studio, made the matches feel like an event, the single commentator feed makes the matches feel like the Intertoto Cup.

      1. I don’t mind the single commentary. Last week I watched the Roma Europa League match that DirecTV was showing are part of their UEFA group of channels. There was no commentary at all but hearing the crowd noise and sounds of the game were really quite enjoyable. I also payed much more attention to the game.

  9. Add me to the list of people excited about FSC going HD, but worried it won’t be broadcast by my satellite provider. I spoke with a Dish Network person recently and much like CA_Backpacker’s story they were clueless about the impending change. I try not to worry about his ignorance since he sounded about 15 years old and struggled with simple math.

  10. with regard to which providers will carry fsc in hd starting in jan: i at least hope directv will do so since they are clearly devoting a lot to football by providing all those uefa channels for the champions league and europa league.

  11. with regard to which providers will carry fsc in hd starting in jan: i at least hope directv will do so since they are clearly devoting a lot to football by providing all those uefa channels for the champions le

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