SAT, 7AM ET
WED
NOT
SAT, 7:45AM ET
BUR
MUFC
SAT, 9:45AM ET
FUL
CAR
SAT, 10AM ET
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STO
SAT, 10AM ET
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QPR
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Open Letters to Fox Soccer HD, Fox Soccer Plus HD, Setanta, ESPN, And Other American Soccer Broadcasters

fox soccer plus Open Letters to Fox Soccer HD, Fox Soccer Plus HD, Setanta, ESPN, And Other American Soccer Broadcasters

Okay, I am officially ready for soccer coverage in America to change. Here are my gripes, complaints, whinings, and otherwise negative comments about the current state of affairs…

HD: Dear HD Gods, Fox Soccer HD and Fox Soccer Plus HD cannot come soon enough. I am sick of watching grainy, stretched, SD images every weekend and I will be glad when the beautiful game is actually beautiful on my HDTV. Seriously, I am typing a blog entry even though Chelsea are currently making Sunderland look like a U-12 girls team. If it was in HD, no one would get to hear how pissed I am about not watching this in HD.

Setanta: Dear Setanta, I hate you. For $15 a month, I get crappy commentary, even grainier images, horrible filler commercials with that horrible theme song you play every time with a yellow ball or yellow boots bouncing around. The worst thing is that the song gets stuck in my head all afternoon. I’d rather watch a Proactiv commercial on constant repeat. I cannot wait until I can call DirecTV and tell them to ditch you for Fox Soccer Plus in HD. I threw a huge party this morning when I read Gaffer’s earlier post about your death on February 28th.

Sylvania: Dear Sylvania, you are stupid. You advertise “the beautiful game in stunning high definition” on a channel that no one gets in high definition…yet. I’m sick of your commercials telling me to get your HDTV’s and Blu-ray players at Walgreens or something. My Panasonic Plasma HDTV is doing just fine. Shut up until I get FSC HD. Oh, and I will CC you on my letter to the HD Gods.

ESPN2: Dear ESPN2, Please turn on the lights in your studio so it looks like you actually care about covering the 7:45 match on Saturdays. Also, kill that ticker, you morons. It used to not bother me but now it does. There are no circumstances under which, during and EPL match, I could possibly ever care about who Tennessee hires as their next coach or what the score of any NHL game is. Get it right before this summer.

Fox Soccer Channel: Dear Fox Soccer Channel, I sort of like you and I will love you once you are in HD and give me Fox Soccer Plus in HD for a small fee every month. But, until then, can you please quit invading my TV screen with ads for Who Are Ya Designs and World Soccer Shop? Your ads at the bottom of the screen are even worse than ESPN’s stupid ticker. You squeeze the image so much that I think I need to rotate my TV or switch to portrait or something. Also, please fire all the Americans who work for you on-air. They just don’t sound right. Speaking of…

American Soccer Commentators: Dear American Soccer Commentators, Please quit now. I am American and I’m really sorry, but you just do not do a good job of calling matches. I seriously cringe when I hear you. Nothing personal, it’s just that you suck. Hooray for Martin Tyler this summer!

Glad that’s done! Now I can get back to watching!

This entry was posted in General, Leagues: EPL. Bookmark the permalink.

54 Responses to Open Letters to Fox Soccer HD, Fox Soccer Plus HD, Setanta, ESPN, And Other American Soccer Broadcasters

  1. Jake Islas says:

    compared to Setanta’s Goal Flash and score updates, ESPN’s ticker is nothing. At least ESPN’s ticker doesn’t show scores of EPL games which I actually care about, and am planning on watching later.

  2. As much as I hate the ticker it will never go away no matter how loudly us footie fanatics protest. they run the ticker during college basketball and college football games, which for espn, are far more important properties than the premier league.

  3. Robert says:

    ESPN 2 HD is so beautiful it makes me watch no matter who is playing and what the score.

  4. Michael C. says:

    I’m going to be honest.

    I cannot believe you mentioned the lightning of the studio. Talk about pedantic.

    ESPN actually gives football in HD, and you’re going to comment on how the lightning is poor? Who cares? I’m sure you’d trade HD for poor lightning in a second on FSC.

    Just proof, even once FSC gets HD, you’ll still find something to complain about. Tsk tsk.

  5. dave says:

    I really don’t understand the hate about the ESPN ticker. I am a huge EPL fan and yet, amazingly, I also care about other sports. I’m sorry if this new fangled ticker is distracting to you but the rest of the sports fans in this country have existed with it for quite sometime. Get over it. This is an example of another thing that will continue to slow the growth of the beautiful game in this country. Soccer snobs. The average American sports fan actually enjoys more than one sport. Assuming that “real” football fans only care about soccer is short sighted and will continue to prevent the casual fan from becoming a passionate supporter. Get over yourself and enjoy the game.

    • Grant says:

      While I agree with you, aside from following the “EPL” as you call it, most hardcore footy fans care about other leagues as well, like La Liga and Serie A and the Fussball-Bundesliga, and to a lesser extent the Scottish Premier League and Ligue 1 and other leagues around the world. When you throw in domestic and international cup competitions as well, you easily get to the point where trying to follow all of that AND all of the American sports is a bit of an overload. So while you are right that hardcore American sports fans who happen to be casual soccer fans in the States are ESPN’s main audience, I think you are fooling yourself to think that hardcore footy fans who only care about the game that is on is a huge part of the audience for the games ESPN2 shows, especially given the time that they are shown. It really is much more appointment television for people who want to see it than something people are going to flip through and start watching because the other games they were watching are a blowout. Maybe at 10 or 12:30, but not at 7:45.

      • boringarsenal says:

        7:45 a.m.? Try getting up for these matches on Pacific time, 4:45 a.m.
        Well, the pending demise of Setanta USA was foreshadowed by the implosion of it’s sister station in the UK. Without the crown jewels of the Premier League, no premium channel can survive, especially with a monthly fee of $14.99. In spite of having EPL matches, Setanta couldn’t muster more than 60,000 subscribers. Premier League football needs the broad exposure and resources that only an ESPN and Fox can provide. In a odd sort of way, the success of English football on American TV outgrew the likes of a minor player like Setanta. Now, bring on the HD broadcasts, Fox!!

      • dave says:

        I myself have absolutely no trouble following multiple football leagues as well as the NFL, NHL, MLB, College Football, and College Hockey. Most of the people I know that follow soccer are the same. The problem is that most “hardcore” footy fans only think someone is a “hardcore” footy fan if they only care about soccer. And I also have this fantastic device called a DVR so the early morning games don’t bother me. It seems like some are actually against ESPN carrying games at all. Because more games available to watch on more available channels is a bad thing?

  6. Fletch,

    How old are you? Do you remember what kind of coverage we were getting only three short years ago? Change takes time and while, yes, it is rather amusing and somewhat frustrating to see that Sylvania advert on an SD channel, calm down. HD is coming. It’s been announced. You’ll get it soon enough. This blog entry makes you sound like a 12 year old boy who hasn’t gotten the ice cream he wanted.

    You don’t like how Fox Soccer Channel advertises during their broadcasts? Perhaps you’d like to go back to the days where coverage actually cut away to commercial meaning that the home audience would occasionally miss goals being scored and players being sent off.

    Your comments about the ticker on ESPN 2 are ridiculous. ESPN 2′s viewership is primarily people who will be more interested in American sports news and scores than the match being played. Even at the ungodly time of the morning when their matches are being aired, they must cater to their primary audience, not the niche soccer audience. To be honest, they’ve done quite well by hiding the ticker for most of the match.

    For a response to your infantile Setanta arguments, read my comment to the post regarding the demise of Setanta Sports US.

    And as for American commentators…yes, most of them are poor, but for the game of football/soccer to expand in this country, American people will need an American voice that they can identify with, even if it’s a dolt like Alexei Lalas. There will always be plenty of English pundits to listen to and you’ll probably always have English commentators for Premiership matches, but without at least SOME American voice, it’s possible that some Americans will be turned off/alienated from the game. The Gaffer makes this point beautifully in the post he made regarding FSC’s hiring of Gray and Keys for the World Cup.

    So again I say to you…I understand your frustration that things aren’t tip-top just yet as far as football coverage in the United States, but I encourage you to be patient. Though you may not realize, coverage has been and is continuing to improve by leaps and bounds from where it was just a few years ago. Football coverage in the United States is currently BETTER THAN IT HAS EVER BEEN BEFORE! Be patient and it will get even better. If you have to voice your frustrations, try to formulate some better arguments and be a bit more articulate than, “Dear Sylvania, you are stupid” or “Dear Setanta, I hate you.”

    • Simon Burke says:

      What AmplifiedtoRock said… spot on.

    • dave says:

      Yeah dude. You hit it on the head.

    • Kevin says:

      Agree 100%, AmplifiedtoRock. I’m also eager for more HD games to be available, but wow, there has been SO MUCH progress in the last few years.

      In a way, though, Fletch-style bitching and moaning might show that the bar has been raised. We’re starting to have higher expectations.

    • Grant says:

      Right on, man.

      • Fletch Spigner says:

        First, I think you guys took my rant a bit too seriously. Second, yes, I am old enough to remember the horrible coverage that we used to get. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have opinions on the current coverage! Thanks!

        • Bob The Foot says:

          In England there are no more than 2 or 3 games on TV per weekend. Most of them are blacked out. Be happy with what we get, because it is much more than what we get back home. I agree that we should always push for more, but I am okay if I miss the Stoke City v Portsmouth match…
          Spurs to Champions League!! Redknapp for PM!!!

    • As an American who has followed my club since the late ’90s, I agree with Amplified To Rock. Even three years ago was a paradise considering what little coverage was available in 1999. Spotty availability of Fox Sport World was about it. In the early-mid 90s, ESPN carried one live EPL match on Monday afternoons. And, as for highlights, you were lucky to get the EPL highlight show (and not on any regular basis and usually at the most inconvenient times).

      Compared to then, now, when we get 3-4 live matches every weekend plus nearly the same on tape-delay, is absolute nirvana. Don’t get me wrong, I also pine for better and more HD coverage. But as someone that struggled to follow his club by staying up till 2am to watch a poorly-produced highlights show, bought 2-day old English newspapers in NYC for $10, and drove 2 hours to pay a $20 cover charge in 1998 just to watch the Arsenal play, I find it very hard to complain about football on TV now.

      Though I can identify with the criticism of the commentators. American commentators suffer from a debilitating delusion that they must either call matches the way other sports are called and/or display extra, and often manufactured, excitement in their commentary. The majority of the matches I watch have British comms anyway. However, that only makes American comms more jarring. I’m not saying we need to import any Brit to do our broadcasts, but American commentators need to listen to their counterparts over the sea and learn how to call the sport. I’m not saying they should copy them exactly, but these seriously misguided attempts to Americanize football broadcasts do not attract new fans of other American sports and only serve to alienate those who are already fans.

      Americans in the last few years have become spoiled not only for choice in football on TV but also by getting to hear such commentators as Martin Tyler, Peter Drury Jon Champion, Clive Tyldesley, John Motson, Guy Mowbray etc…. Now, granted none of these (except perhaps Tyler) is free of commentating flaws, but their style is the result of a commentating heritage going back to Kenneth Wolstenholme (watching those old FA Cup finals with him commentating is about as British as you can get).

  7. Joel says:

    Fletch, is there anything about football coverage in the US you don’t have a complaint with?

  8. John says:

    Yeah, it seems ridiculous to complain about the ticker and the lighting of the studio when ESPN otherwise has the best presentation of Premier League soccer right now, at least in terms of picture quality.

    And as a relatively new EPL fan, I gotta say: it makes a huge difference. I’ve been following all of the games each week via streams, but nothing captures my attention like the 7:45 am game. HD makes a huge difference.

    What I’d add to the wish list, even if it’s far-fetched (I’m not sure if anything of the sort happens in Europe): would love to see the Premier League take a page out of American sports like MLB or NBA and offer up a pay service online for watching games. I know they have deals abroad, but in countries (like the US!) with only a few games per week, I’d love to pay for a season pass to watch games not being broadcast.

    I imagine a lot of people would be with me.

    • The Gaffer says:

      Hi John, there are a couple of online services out there right now such as Setanta-i.com and FoxSoccer.tv which show Premier League matches online, but both of them are in their infancy stage and they’re nothing close to what we’re envisioning they could become.

      Fingers crossed the Premier League will wise up soon to the revenue potential of online rights.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

      • totoro says:

        I actually sent an email to customer service on the offical EPL site asking about streaming service, like MLB.tv.

        I’d love it if such a service were available and you’d think the world market is big enough that it would be worth their while to look into. Fox and Setanta together are good but then you’re subscribing to both if you’re trying to follow all the games of a particular club, esp. if it’s not one of the top clubs. It’s true that such a service in the US would compete with FSC and Setanta, but you can always use blackouts so the tv contract is favored over internet streaming for live games.

        Anyway, here’s the response I received from the Barlcays site:

        “We do not stream matches live on the internet. Our rights are sold for
        three years at a time, and the way we sell our rights in the UK is
        heavily regulated by the European Commission. We believe that the
        current way our rights are sold is the most effective way of ensuring
        that a large number of people can watch Premier League matches whilst maximising the revenue that ensures the success of football in this country. There is no evidence to suggest that selling internet rights would increase the overall revenue and we are keen to protect the ’3pm window’. “

  9. Also…just a reminder that practically every Premiership match is aired either live or on a same-day delay in the United States. That’s better coverage than most places including the UK which DOES NOT BROADCAST LIVE 15.00 KICKOFFS!

    Sometimes I can’t believe just how spoiled we are.

    @John: It would be amazing to see the Premiership embrace the internet the same way professional sports in the US has. Unfortunately, they’re so concerned with TV rights that that sort of service is still probably quite a ways off in the distance. We can certainly hope, though. I’ve heard it requested before, but a pay service offering a choice of every live match along the lines of NFL Sunday Ticket would be AMAZING, but also probably very far away from happening.

    • totoro says:

      “just a reminder that practically every Premiership match is aired either live or on a same-day delay in the United States”

      Really? Coverage was this good between the one ESPN2 game, FSC, and Setanta? I figured we we’d still be missing a couple matches.

      • The Gaffer says:

        Totoro, up until a couple of weeks ago, we had a match on Setanta Xtra too, but it looks like Setanta Xtra is not being used.

        On a typical weekend, there would be 1-2 Premier League games not shown either live or on delay.

        Cheers,
        The Gaffer

  10. ovalball says:

    Fletch,

    I know you’re just venting, but those banner ads on FSC are what pay for the match to be on in the first place. Small beans.

    • Grant says:

      I totally agree, but I would agree that the screen smushing is annoying. They could just overlay it on the bottom of the screen. I realize that it would then cover a small part of the picture, but that’s less of a big deal.

    • what says:

      What about fox soccer plus? I’m pretty sure my 15$ a month is paying for that, how in the hell can they justify running banner ads during games on a PAY CHANNEL?? It’s unbelievable.

  11. Cantona says:

    dont short yourselves …

    if you have watched the ESPN broadcasts.. you will be aware that the “ticker” is very absent from their broadcasts as compared to other programming on ESPN..

    Cantona–

  12. John says:

    Gaffer, Amplified:

    Spot on, the both of you. I love the game, but I’m certainly missing the innovation of stateside broadcasting. MLB has the wonderful MLB.TV, NBA has the League Pass, NFL has not only the Season Ticket but the magnificent RedZone.

    I’ve learned how enjoyable footy is from minute 1 to minute 90, but a RedZone-style channel would be an interesting way to watch the game and to open the doors to the Premier League for the hesitant American fan.

    I’m just throwing ideas against the wall, of course. From everything I’ve read, slow progress seems to be the name of the game. Perhaps some of the EPL’s cash problems, though, will lead to some more progressive thinking and selling of the rights to both television and web broadcasters.

    • The Gaffer says:

      Nah, the EPL clubs have a ton of money (most of them). The problem is that the Premier League and its clubs are in bed with television because that’s where the lionshare of their money comes from. The last thing they want to do is to invest a lot of money in broadband because they may deem that would reduce the amount of money they could get for TV rights.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

    • Grant says:

      The scoring in soccer is much too unpredictable for a Red Zone style channel.

  13. Jean-Christian says:

    How incredibly immature.

  14. RJ says:

    Fletch — I’m sure that this will not be the first time you’ve ever heard this, but your “writing” smacks of the ravings of a complete idiot. Just to mention one — Setanta was and is so much better than anything the Murdochians will ever put on screen.

    AmplifiedtoRock has you spot-on — you have nothing but infantile comments about nearly everything you mentioned. Gaffer — why is this guy given any room on this page?

  15. dlink09 says:

    hmm.. ESPN2 coverage of soccer is 100 times better than FSC.. for ticker.. ESPN is watched by americans and all of them are used to it.. get over it..
    FSC HD — to me it looks like either FSC is not ready to go HD or carriers are refusing to pay what FSC wants..
    man after watching stoke vs liverlosers match it had to watch everton vs mancity in SD..

  16. Grant says:

    I think that as long as the picture doesn’t get stretched, I would have no problem with ads on a ticker or a bug.

    If it means that the broadcasters are making more money from soccer, therefore wanting to show more soccer, then we all win.

  17. I’ll tell you what you really miss out on. Sky Sports News and Sky Soccer Saturday with Jeff Stelling – the greatest Football presenter on the planet bar none.

  18. jilld says:

    ian cransons knees — you’re right — Stelling is class. But don’t forget — when that show was first put together it was Paul Dempsey who virtually invented it in his Sky days and he set the style.It’s hardly changed at all in 18 years. Dempsey was so good he went on to do many other things for Sky and others — commentating and fronting studio — it’s all the same to him

  19. Fletch Spigner says:

    Wow, it seems as if we have a lot of opinions here. I have a few general responses:

    1. If you missed the slight sarcastic tone in this article and got pissed off because some guy (me) knocked your precious (that was sarcasm)coverage of soccer then I’m just really really sorry. I need to get a grip? Come on guys! Lighten up a bit (along with the ESPN set)!

    2. I pay more money per month for soccer access via my TV and computer than a lot of people pay for electricity. When you watch the sport as much as I watch it, you tend to get annoyed with the small things. Sorry if you don’t but that doesn’t make me “immature.” It’s called an opinion. You’re entitled to yours and I’m entitled to mine. Both are welcome on this site!

    3. Being annoyed with these small things is simply that, an annoyance. Some people hate the ticker and some people don’t. I would watch League Two on ESPN2 HD if was on and I don’t change the channel when the ticker comes across. Complaining about a stupid ticker is not something for someone to get legitimately mad about. It’s not like I attacked your sister or something. It’s a ticker. Disagree with me without taking some personal offense; none was intended!

    4. Whatever your opinion, it is welcome!

    Thanks!

    • Grant says:

      The issue with the ticker bashing is that we have a post on here every 10 days or so. For something so small, it gets WAY too much attention. The constant whinging about it on here comes across as just that: whinging.

      • The Gaffer says:

        Grant, if the issue was so small, very few people would comment about it. Judging by the response of soccer fans – both for and against the ticker, the ticker issue isn’t small at all.

        Cheers,
        The Gaffer

        • totoro says:

          The ticker is more annoying than no ticker, but after years of tv-mandated timeouts, I guess the ticker seems acceptable by comparison.

          • Simon Burke says:

            I think this is only an issue when you have a 10am game on ESPN, otherwise i couldnt give a monkey’s.

  20. Jim Slip says:

    So Fox Soccer Plus will only be available in HD, not SD?

  21. Eitan says:

    I enjoy the ESPN ticker. If I had to vote, I’d vote for it.

  22. JohnDoe says:

    Dear blooger,
    Im sick of your constant whining about quality, just because you may have HD, does not mean that everyone does.
    Setanta is better than the annoying lame ass excuse of an American, hosting a show pretending to know what soccer is.
    Oh did you know your Panasonic is NOT made by Panasonic? So STFU and learn something.
    Finally hoe pissed off we all are at hearing you shout your mouth off like a typical yank, its NOT your beautiful game and all I can say is… “Come and av a go if ya think ya hard enough”… frikin fags like you dont know shit.

  23. tod says:

    ESPN should use 1080 HD every time. every network should be available in premium with monthly fee, zero ads during match play.

  24. ron says:

    About the ticker along the bottom of the screen. I have a strip of black paper that I tape to the bottom of my screen. Sad but true. At least I don’t have to see NFL scores etc.

  25. Dude says:

    Is this post even serious? The halftime commentary for FSC is HORRIBLE. And that show they have where they sit in a bar looks to be the quality of a bad 80′s comedy. “We’re back here at the Budweiser pub (annoying douche bag American soccer dork voice).” Could those guys at half time possibly sit-up any straighter. Fox Soccer Channel has the worst broadband service ever. You have to wait almost 24 hours just to watch the match! Are you serious?! Til the next day! And then the interface. Setanta’s online interface blows FSC’s out of the water. Not even close. No ability to flag on demand no fucking watching a live match. I resorted to wiping my ass with the 15 dollars a month that were used for FSC broadband. Now I get better use out of the money. Also, when you watch FSC you have to sit through endless runners on the bottom on the screen advertising new boots. In addition they have found a way to bundle the Champions league coverage which was awesome for ESPN360. Gaffer, some of us out here are broadband users, who don’t feel like paying for rubbish channels which we will not watch. In your article there isn’t even a tidbit about broadband options. Broadband users are screwed over in this deal. How about you send a couple of e-mails out to FSC and figure out what’s going on with that.

  26. John Kay says:

    You forgot to mention to ESPN2: Please get rid of Tommy “Onion Bag” Smyth. He knows nothing about the beautiful game and nine out of ten he is wrong!

  27. Chuck says:

    I agree about the tickers. It ruins so many games for me (not just ESPN, all of them). NFL network even shows you tickers while you watch “Replays” of games so you see the final score of the GAME YOU ARE WATCHING.

    My big question is, why do they have to be so BIG? ESPN’s especially it almost 3x the size of the text appearing on it. Why do we need 2 inches of nothing on the bottom of the screen? Put the ticker at the BOTTOM in the smallest space necessary and stop wasting my screen area.

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