The move is surprising because few anticipated Fox would feature such high-profile talent to host its World Cup program, “Ticket To South Africa,” especially since Fox Soccer Channel will not be showing any of the games. Four years ago, during World Cup 2006, Fox Soccer Channel hosted a similar show from its studio in Los Angeles and included talent such as Cobi Jones, Christopher Sullivan, Bobby McMahon and Nick Webster in its build-up and analysis of that World Cup.
In 2010, “Ticket To South Africa” will feature Richard Keys in his customary role as host of the program (he also hosts Super Sunday in England for Sky Sports) which kicks off on June 10, the opening day of the World Cup and will be broadcast live each night after the final game of the day concludes.
Alongside Keys will be a familiar face (and voice) to both US and British soccer viewers, and that’s Andy Gray – the Scottish co-commentator who is best known for his role alongside Martin Tyler on the preeminent Premier League matches. During Euro 2008, ESPN hired Gray to provide expert coverage of the tournament.
Together with Keys and Gray will be pundits Christopher Sullivan and Warren Barton. The article in Multichannel News is vague in terms of whether Gray and Keys will be conducting their part of the show from South Africa, but the story does allude to the fact that some FSC personalities will be at the World Cup.
Complementing “Ticket To South Africa” on Fox Soccer Channel will be a new program named “Passport To South Africa.” According to Multichannel news, the nine-episode series of 30-minute studio talks shows will focus on the 32 nations competing for the FIFA title, breaking down each country’s group, how it qualified and its chances to take home the crown.
While “Ticket To South Africa” will analyze each day of the World Cup and preview the next matches, “Passport to South Africa” will debut January 18 at 9:30 pm ET and will feature in-depth analysis, features and predictions from FSC’s commentators, including Sullivan, Barton and Bobby McMahon, plus special guests.
A key piece of news regarding both programs is that they’ll both be recorded in high-definition. Does that mean that Fox Soccer Channel may be available on DirecTV or other satellite or cable providers in time for the debut of “Passport To South Africa” on January 18? We’ll have to wait and see.
What’s your opinion about Gray and Keys being added to Fox Soccer Channel’s line-up? And will you watch the daily program now that these two personalities are included? Click the comments link below to share your feedback.
UPDATE: According to a Fox Soccer Channel representative, Andy Gray and Richard Keys will be in the Los Angeles studio, while there will be a team of Fox Soccer Channel staff on site in South Africa reporting on the World Cup.