Martin Tyler has joined ESPN’s 2010 World Cup team as the main commentator, according to Sports Illustrated.
Without a doubt, Tyler is by far the number one football commentator in the world and it’s an incredible achievement for ESPN to acquire his talent. Plus, it’s yet another sign that ESPN is very serious about making World Cup 2010 a massive televised success.
While Tyler has a contract with Sky Sports, Sky doesn’t have the TV rights to the World Cup in England, so Tyler is available to freelance during the summer. ESPN and viewers in the United States are the fortunate benefactors of Tyler being available. Coupled with ESPN’s acquisition of two weekly timeslots of the Premier League, the acquisition of Tyler for the World Cup is excellent news for soccer aficionados who value top quality commentating.
It also shows, to me, the way that ESPN is finally understanding soccer coverage and how it doesn’t need to hire talent that talk down to its audience. With Tyler at the helm, you have someone who is intelligent, eloquent and will be able to much better share the passion for the beautiful game with die-hard fans and, at the same time, newbies.
Disney, parent company for ESPN and ABC, has learned their lesson after the abysmal 2006 World Cup coverage where we experienced the painful combination of Dave O’Brien and Marcelo Balboa commentating games. O’Brien, especially, was so horrible that he made the entire World Cup coverage by ESPN/ABC a joke.
Thankfully, ESPN learned their lesson in 2008 when they appointed Andy Gray who added a lot of confidence and professionalism to the matches and was beautifully matched with commentators Derek Rae as well as Adrian Healey and others.
According to the SI article, ESPN expect to name Tyler’s co-commentator in early December. Could it be Andy Gray? Or will ESPN try to keep the broadcasts not too Euro-centric by balancing it with an American voice instead?
What are your thoughts about Martin Tyler being acquired by ESPN? And do you think ESPN can produce a world-class World Cup next summer? Click the comments link below and share your thoughts.
Also, feel free to go back into the EPL Talk Podcast archives to listen to an interview with Martin Tyler from earlier this year.