Rob Stone Moves From ESPN to FOX Soccer To Become New Lead Studio Host

FOX Soccer has a new face. Rob Stone, who began at ESPN in 1992 and returned to the network in 1997, will be the new lead studio host for FOX Soccer, as well as the face for soccer coverage on FOX Sports and FX.

Stone’s first assignment will be to host FOX’s coverage of Arsenal against Manchester United, which will be shown live on FOX Broadcasting Company on January 22 (11am ET). He’ll also be the new host on Goals On Sunday on FOX Soccer, as well as the host on FOX Soccer Match Day. His assignments will also include hosting the live coverage of Chelsea against Manchester United on Super Bowl Sunday, and being the lead anchor for FOX Soccer’s coverage of the remainder of the 2010-11 Champions League, leading up to the final this spring.

In other changes by FOX, Eric Wynalda has shifted to become the lead studio analyst. As for Christian Miles, who before today was the host of Goals On Sunday and FOX Soccer Match Day, his status at FOX Soccer is unclear as of press time.

Stone is best known for his work at ESPN where he was a familiar presence during the last four World Cup tournaments as well as on coverage of MLS and the US men’s national team.

So what does this move mean for FOX Soccer and ESPN? Given Rob Stone’s warm personality and presence in front of the camera, as well as his professionalism and knowledge of the sport, it’s most definitely a good move by FOX. Stone will add instant credibility to the network. And the role will be a perfect opportunity for Stone to carve out his own place as “the face of soccer” in the United States especially given the quantity and quality of TV rights that FOX has recently acquired including the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments.

Stone replaces Miles, who despite his best intentions, never seemed to make as sincere of a connection with his audience as Stone had made at ESPN. Having said that, it’ll be interesting to see how Stone adapts to FOX Soccer and vice-versa. Hopefully Stone will be able to add a less rehearsed and less scripted feel to the coverage and analysis from FOX. Nevertheless, swapping talent isn’t going to immediately win over fans. FOX needs to up its game in the level of dialogue and analysis on its shows to make it worthwhile for soccer fans to watch. Currently the level of analysis and discussion is severely lacking.

By moving Wynalda from the lead studio host on Champions League coverage to a permanent seat as lead studio analyst, it seems that FOX has made a sound decision. But whether this formula will work depends on how much freedom Wynalda has to speak his mind and provide expert analysis. Wynalda is more candid when giving his views off air, such as on podcasts and in social media. Hopefully FOX Soccer can find a way to bottle up those opinions and give Wynalda the forum to share his ideas and criticisms in front of the TV camera.

What does Rob Stone going to FOX mean to ESPN? I think many viewers who watch soccer on ESPN will miss Stone, but the reality is that ESPN has a long list of talent to choose from to replace Stone including Max Bretos, Adrian Healey, Bob Ley, Dan Thomas and Andrew Orsatti. So while the departure of Stone is a loss for ESPN, they have enough talent to fill the hole left by the ESPN veteran.

23 thoughts on “Rob Stone Moves From ESPN to FOX Soccer To Become New Lead Studio Host”

  1. Finally — we can say good bye to Miles.

    That guy may have been the least impressive studio host in any sport I have seen in my lifetime.
    Total amateur..

    Good to see the network step it up

  2. Please, please, please, please…. Fox Soccer needs to be put on to a English package for Directv. It cannot thrive or expand the sport if its only on Sports Pack on Directv, the biggest tv provider in the nation. I know Directv starting February 9th is increasing prices and making new packages so maybe that is what will happen. Speaking of Dtv Fox Deportes will no longer be on Sports Pack starting January 11th, only will be on spanish packages. Also Fox needs to create a NFL Sunday Ticket -like package for the Uefa Champions League, Europa League and Epl games they have. Wathcing them on the computer sucks compared to a HDTV. I know Directv shows all UCL and Europa league games but for the people who not have it it really is an inconvience. I would not mind paying $25-$30 dollars a month to be able to get all the soccer games Fox has rights to, I mean all of them too.

    1. I REALLY agree with you about FSC but since so many people pay the price for the package I can’t see it being in their benefit to change.

  3. Good move and take Costigan with him…they are both awful
    Could somebody at Fox please throw some dosh at Bobby McMahon and get him on the weekends..even if by remote feed???

  4. I have nothing against Miles personally, but I agree with the positive reception to the news of his replacement. He read the teleprompter in such a way that it appeared he knew nothing about the sport. Plus he was frequently off-syllable. I wish him all the best…somewhere else.

  5. I like it and will definitely give the new mix a look. I have not watched much of the Fox studio shows in ages simply because I couldn’t stand the dialog and I think that is down to Miles. Something had to give. This looks like it has possibilities, with or without Barton (W), although I actually like him.

  6. I think Rob Stone is an absolute improvement over Christian Miles. It’s a good step in the right direction for Fox Soccer. Now, they need to get Fox Soccer as a regular sports channel on DirecTV like someone said above, and they will move more in the right direction. They still need to work on their camera work for soccer and NFL coverage … moving the camera away from the ball in play in both sports has been a major weakness of Fox in general for years.

    1. i believe the camera is held by someone employed by Sky at British football grounds so Fox really shouldn’t be blamed for camera-work vis-a-vis their soccer coverage in the U.S. – not sure about the NFL, but the bit i did see of it recently made me feel as if i’d newly acquired some seriously debiltating form of ADD

  7. i watched most of ESPN worldcup coverage and EPL games.. i never saw this dude.. well lets see how he performs.. not sure why lot of people are upset with miles.. with the budget they have he has done well.. Analysis on the shows are sh*t….

  8. From what I’ve seen of Stone he is OK but not anywhere as knowledgeable about the EPL or soccer in general to satisfy the carvings of the soccer enthusiast. Still, he should be given a chance.

  9. Rob Stone has been mostly on ESPN MLS matches as a sideline reported the past few years. Also, he has done play by play and sideline reporting for ESPN’s college football coverage.

    He has flown under the radar, and his most recent lead assignment was the lead play by play person for ESPN’s coverage of the PBA (Professional Bowlers Assoc) tour.

    On TV, he is a great personality, and he should give a boost to Fox Soccer.

  10. Like for like substitution if you ask me. Never liked Stone at ESPN and say what you like about Miles but at least he helped establish FSC as a viable channel in the US. Fox just can’t seem to attract top tier talent. They get Stone, ESPN get Ian Darke. They get Barton, ESPN get McManaman. And so on.

    1. Sure Christian Miles was not the greatest but it has more to do with FOX Sports’ style. Think of former FOX NFL host James Brown and now Curt Menefee and you will see the same formulaic style especially when compared to say NBC Sunday Night NFL studio crew. Even when they carry marque games over on Mama Fox and ditch Christian Miles for the day the studio coverage is still crappy. The crew lineup they had for the last World Cup was quite decent except they had no live cover .

  11. They need a more stylish cutting edge approach. Barton can be a bit acid (which is good) yet he has poor vocabulary. Wynalda actually has some insightful comments and should be given a bit more free range than currently allowed by Fox. However, I’m not sure what Fox is trying to produce in the studio. Recently when they were all ordered to make individual statements against racism in reference to the Suarez incident it was just plain amateurish. Get one of the UK ex player commentators. They know the game and will speak their mind. Especially the fantastic Tony Gale.

    Don’t know anything about Rob Stone. Perhaps they are trying to give it higher profile which is good but generally this results in a more teflon approach.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *