If I had to count the number of times that ESPN has ruined Premier League games for me this season by running latest scores on their BottomLine Ticker while I’m recording games on Fox Soccer Channel or Setanta Sports, it would be definitely number more than a dozen.
Yes, before the readers respond by saying that you should be lucky ESPN shows any games, let me add that I appreciate everything ESPN has done this season in terms of Premier League coverage by raising the bar. But the one criticism that still exists is the annoying BottomLine Ticker.
I’ve gotten into debates with younger generations of soccer fans about the ticker before, so let me put my argument a different way. I simply believe that ESPN doesn’t get it. They don’t understand what the fuss is about. They don’t understand how soccer fans experience games differently than American residents who watch other sports.
Let me explain.
I’ve never been to a NFL game before in my life, and I’ve probably watched an entire NFL game on TV maybe once or twice. So when I spend time with my in-laws on Sundays, I usually find myself observing how my two brother-in-laws watch a NFL game rather than watching the game itself.
The biggest thing that strikes me is how the game of American football is made for channel flipping. On a typical Sunday afternoon my brother-in-laws are constantly flipping back from channel to channel as they watch 10 to 15 minutes of a NFL game before switching to another NFL game on a different network. I realize this is not always the case especially when their favorite team is on, but the majority of time they’re using the remote control to flip channels.
The other thing is that it’s easier to predict when there’ll be big plays in American football. If you’re switching between channels and you noticed that the game is in a fourth down situation, you’re already anticipating that there’s going to be a big play to get a touchdown.
With soccer, it’s the opposite. You never know when and where a goal is coming from, so it’s more vital to pay attention throughout the 90 minutes.
Yes, in American football, there may be an interception or a hail mary throw that will make you jump out of your seat, but the highs and lows of American football are more predictable. Plus with the number of TV commercial breaks, Americans are more customed to switching channels.
Because soccer is more unpredictable and features no commercial breaks, except for half-time, it’s more likely that soccer fans will watch the entire game than to channel flip back and forth. And nothing ruins a soccer game more than knowing the latest score or result before you’ve watched a game (thanks BottomLine Ticker). Soccer fans are more likely to watch game after game in its entirety than to change channels back and forth even when Premier League games are being shown simultaneously such as on Saturday’s when there may be as many as four games on at the same time.
Some of the readers here will argue that the ESPN BottomLine Ticker isn’t much of an issue because ESPN2 rarely shows games at the same time that other matches are on. However, with the upcoming World Cup and the likelihood that ESPN will increase the amount of Premier League games it televises in the future, the issue of the BottomLine Ticker needs to be addressed now so we can ensure improved viewing experiences on the worldwide leader in sports.