ESPN Hires Martin Tyler As World Cup 2010 Commentator


Martin Tyler has joined ESPN’s 2010 World Cup team as the main commentator, according to Sports Illustrated.

EPL Talk speculated back in July that ESPN were interested in acquiring Tyler. And now, according to SI, they expect ESPN to make a formal announcement this week.

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.

57 thoughts on “ESPN Hires Martin Tyler As World Cup 2010 Commentator”

  1. This is some of the best news soccer in the United States has had in a while. Even more so given the week of rough news for Charlie Davies, Oguchi Onyewu, and Jay DeMerit.

    Martin Tyler and Andy Grey would be a fantastic team to call matches at the World Cup, but I wouldn’t be suprised if the U.S. games are still called by JP Delecamera (sp?) and John Harkes. They have built a good rapport with themselves and U.S. fans over the last qualifying cycle, and I wouldn’t mind them calling the U.S. games.

    As long as Marcello Balboa, Dave O’Brien, and Tommy Smyth are far, far away from these broadcasts I’ll be happy, but I think that we might have to suffer through Alexi Lalas this summer.

  2. Oh shit, I was hoping for Tommy Smyth……… As an Irish man, we disown him, only in a country like the states he could get work.

  3. This is great news! I always used to watch the Spanish language telecast on Univision to avoid the terrible announcing, but I’ll try watching the American broadcast this time.

  4. Fantastic news! Now, if they can only keep away from the studio Tommy Smythe, the world will be a better place…Andy Gray and Tyler could make a fantastic team, though, no question about that.

  5. They’ll still ruin it by pairing him with Andy Gray, the only commentator who is arguably worse than Tommy Smyth. Ray Hudson would be a good choice, but the suits at ESPN would never actually choose someone who knew what they were talking about.

    1. Hudson is an idiot. Come on, anyone who dubs Messi “Leo the Lion” and keeps saying it 20 times a game does not take his work seriously. And what about him dubbing Xavi, “The Cerebral Dictator”? He was so proud of this description that he used it non-stop for a month, making every Barca game on GOLTV virtually unwatchable.

      Hudson is a Geordie cliche wrapped up inside a loud-mouth plonker.

  6. Great news!!! as long as that idiot Tommy Smyth is not allowed anywhere near the studio or commentators booth, how does that man get a job in football?

  7. I think espn has struck gold in landing Martin Tyler. I watch the epl every week here in Tanzania and Tyler is by far the best commentator.From what I’ve seen watchin the UEFA Champions League on ESPN I think Derek Rae would be the perfect match for Tyler.
    Well done ESPN, can’t wait for the WC in Africa!!

  8. Good business from ESPN…smart move
    Let’s take the accent out of the equation…he knows football and is a quality professional in the booth, just what you need.
    I’d wager that its a package deal with Andy Gray…which would be a real treat for US viewers

  9. best news I’ve had all day. What about Chris Sullivan for US-talent? I think he’s great, knows the game around the world (not just MLS)….and I do think (even though I’m an ex-pat living in USA) that there should be someone from US in the booth with Martin.

    Mind you….I’m so used to the Martin/Andy combo….through all the FIFA I play with my son!!!!

  10. Presentation is a huge factor in sports coverage. This is great news. I personally find that British announcers sound “right”, while hearing Americans discuss the game on television just seems odd.

    I’d like to point to American Football, especially at the collegiate level to show this. Though the level of play between conferences is often not to varied, the presentation on television makes a huge difference. SImply having high production value and a good commentary team on hand makes the overall product seem superior. Just watch a game on FSN and then CBS or ESPN.

  11. For a Monday this is mega-cool news.

    The best journalist on-air talent in the sport (in english).
    I look forward to his work during the 2010!!


  12. Interesting…ESPN is airing the world feed featuring Martin Tyler instead of airing the ESPN UK feed with Jon Champion. What a wonderful preview for this summer.

    1. I noticed that too Panda…. not using their own feed.. im sure this was done because of todays announcement.. fine by me.. Martin is the best in the world in any language right now.. somebody at ESPN does have a football brain!


  13. I’d enjoy seeing Andy Gray with Tyler. Even when Gray is talking nonsense (which he does a lot, and thats coming form someone who idolized him as a toddler when he was with my Wolves) he’s entertaining.

  14. I like Tyler a lot, but he is not “the number one football commentator in the world”. Outside of english speaking countries nobody knows him or heard of him.
    Kudos to ESPN for a great decision, but I hope they keep JP for the US games.

  15. Sorry to disagree Gaffer, but I take STRONG issue with your comment that Andy Gray added professionalism to the broadcasts of the Euro 2008. Ignorance of any player who plys his trade outside the Premier League and total disregard bordering on contempt for Italy and Germany (including a clear lack of knowledge or research into either national team) was far from professional. In fact it was immature, and reflected the common biases many cosmopolitan fans in the US feel British commentators have. Far from elevating the broadcasts, Gray lowered them to a new petty level.

    I trust Tyler will do better. Quite frankly, he cannot do much worse.

      1. I don’t expect commentators to know every little thing about the country, its players or what they have for breakfast in the hotel, but I DO expect them to know about the game of football we are watching together. Andy Gray and Martin Tyler fit this bill very well, but everyone is entitled to his opinion, so here’s mine…
        KK you are off your rocker mate!

    1. Andy Gray… your talking about Andy Gray?… you sure your not referring to the geordie loon Ray Hudson… Andy Gray is a pure professional.. and more knowledgeable than 99.9% of commentators in any language in ANY country…


      1. If anyone who actrually follows the Bundesliga or Serie A closel comes back to me with the opinion that Andy Gray knew the teams well and gave great analysis, I’ll respect that view. But following the Bundesliga as closely as I do, it was obvious Gray could not be bothered to do bvasic research into how some of the Bundesliga based players for Germany and other national teams had performed in the recently completed seasons and kept going back to his comfort zone of players who had performed well in the Premier League. I do not follow Serie A closely but have been told by multiple fans of the Italian game that he had a similar attitude.

        This is not a Premier League match, where I would admit he does a credible job. (although he does have a bias against Chelsea that is clear as the day.) These are international tournaments, and if you don’t know all the key players and how they have performed recently for the countries that may contend to win the trophy, ultimately you are doing a dis service to the viewer, regardless of how well you sound, how good you do ith Sky, and how many Everton fans adore you.

        I challenge anyone here to listen to Gray’s analysis of Germany’s knock out stage games and tell me he gave more insight into the German team that you or I would on 15 minutes prep time. I am told by a few people, the same case can be made on the Italian team.

        1. I’m not sure I need encyclopedic knowledge of every league under the sun from my co-commentators. What I do need is a good knowledge of how the game is played — and the ability to articulate that knowledge.

          Balboa/O’brien/Smyth/Hudson = fail.
          Andy/Tyler/Rae/Sullivan = win.

  16. Great news, don’t you think? All that ESPN needs to do now is to add the Worldsport HD (a channel on the now defunct Voom HD) commentators from the La Liga into their commentator mix and move Tommy Smyth to just the pre-game, halftime and post-game shows. ESPN and ABC are certainly getting better with their soccer coverage after their 2002 World Cup debacle. The commentary teams should be:

    Martin Tyler/Derek Rae and Andy Gray (Opening match, important group matches, playoffs on ABC, and the Finals)

    JP Dellacamera and John Harkes (Just for the US National Team games )

    The Worldsport HD Commentators (I don’t know their names, but they certainly add enthusiasm into a game and don’t take themselves too seriously. They can be good for ESPN2 group matches)

  17. This is good news. I hope Harkes and Dellacamera still do US games though. I like them and I think they work well together. Maybe I’m crazy, but I don’t think Lalas is the worst thing ever either. Or Smyth.

    But Stuart Scott and Boomer drive me insane. Can’t stand them. Or Aikman. Or Buck.

    1. Lalas isnt bad, just keep him away from a team. He’s like Wynalda in the sense that he has an opinion and isn’t afraid to state it. Whether you agree with him or not…he’s not just a vanilla analyst driven by catch phrases.

  18. Yay for Martin Tyler, but I’m now slightly afraid that the greatest sports commentator of all time Derek Rae might not be involved. Here’s hoping otherwise. Also, they better not put an American with Tyler. Dellacamera is the only American broadcaster worth a damn and he wouldn’t do well as a #2. I could suffer through Wynalda but ESPN won’t hire him back.

  19. Just glad it wont be some US commentator borrowed from the NFL or NBA. We all know how those games are commentated. The only things I care about when it comes to commentators, is that they are not bias, they know the terminology (so I don’t have to hear touchdown) and they speak English:)


    Why hate on Tommy Smyth?! He’s doing great with EPL on Saturdays. Mustoe’s never had to change the subject to something he liked.

  21. I am so happy about this news. So England’s first game will be against the US…I wonder who ESPN will have commentate? It better be Tyler, otherwise I’ll have to head to Canada where they have the BBC feed for their games.

    1. There’s a good possibility that the England v US game may be shown on ABC in HD instead. Even bigger ratings than ESPN – and still a part of the Disney family of networks.

      The Gaffer

  22. All good about Tyler — but somebody should be hiring Paul Dempsey to anchor — he like Tyler is in a different class

  23. Martin Tyler should just shut the f**k up….his job should be commentating limp English matches at home, he is not at all fit to commentate on anything even remotely outside England as one can hear his bigotry and one sideness. Do US ALL A FAVOUR and stay and commenntate JUST in England.

  24. GHANA VS AUSTRALIA this espn commentator is pissing me off he needs to stop talking i swear he keeps talking about how Africans are disorganized and need to play smart…..what an asshole.even though Ghana is obviously pressing why don’t they just move to Austrilia. Or stick to commentating for basketball and American football (not soccer).

  25. martin tyler has done a good job so far. partner john harkes is a mess. references everything to the american team. efan ekoku has made a good pair

  26. Martin Tyler comments today “China has a population of what … 800 million or so?”
    Erm only 550 millions of son!
    A lack of basic education – no wonder hes on yank TV!

  27. Grear news. Martin Tyler is absolutley the best in the business. American sports announcers ( all of them) need to listen to this man call a game,
    and learn from him.

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