FOX Soccer Needs to Improve Its Graphical Effects And Tactical Analysis

FOX Soccer’s TV coverage of the UEFA Champions League has continued to improve ever since it acquired the rights to show the competition in the 2009/10 season. The best example of their improvements is the pre-match, half-time and post-match shows. The studio set and on-screen graphics FOX uses makes the broadcast look very professional. FOX has also found a good rhythm with the camaraderie between presenter Rob Stone and pundits Eric Wynalda and Warren Barton.

But there is one aspect of the coverage which looks very amateurish and that needs polishing to improve the coverage. That’s the on-screen tactical graphics and analysis that Barton often does to illustrate key points in games such as, for example, mistakes that defenders make. While I applaud Barton and FOX Soccer for raising the bar in their coverage by doing this type of analysis, which they’ve been doing for more than a year, the quality of the on-screen presentation and the analysis could be far better.

First, take a look at an example screenshot from last week’s Chelsea against Benfica match in the UEFA Champions League. The software program that FOX uses to superimpose graphics on top of the screen looks like something you’d see in a tic-tac-toe game. It’s awful. The on-screen graphics look like it’s something created with an 8-bit Nintendo or the first version of Microsoft Paint. Second, I’ve watched many of Barton’s insights that he’s shared but almost all of them are blatantly obvious. It’s very rare that Barton will point out something that I didn’t already see. The level of analysis seems to be more of an exercise in self-indulgence to show off their technology than informative analysis that benefits the viewer. (Imagine what a Michael Cox from Zonal Marking could do to better enlighten a viewer).

The disadvantage that Barton has is the lack of time. During a typical half time of a Champions League match, he may have as little as ten minutes to see an incident late in the first half, and then work with his production team to get the piece ready to air during the half-time show. Compare this with someone like Alan Hansen or Alan Shearer, who literally have several hours between the time when an incident happens and the start of BBC Match Of The Day that begins at 10:20pm BST.

Nevertheless, the quality of the software that FOX Soccer uses looks very out-of-date. In closing, take a look at two examples of what FOX Soccer can do. The first is an example by Alan Hansen on Match Of The Day in his analysis of Nemanja Vidic. It’s not groundbreaking, but the analysis is straight to the point.

The second and final example is a promotional video from a company named Red Bee Media, who I interviewed at SportelAmerica five years ago (which gives you an idea of how dated FOX Soccer’s software is). As you can see from the example below, several companies use the software including BBC, Sky and ITV. The quality is exceptional:

Red Bee’s Piero software isn’t cheap, but if FOX Soccer is serious about soccer, it’s time that the network invests in software that will help elevate its coverage of the beautiful game.

21 thoughts on “FOX Soccer Needs to Improve Its Graphical Effects And Tactical Analysis”

  1. WOW! cool stuff. knowing how FOX is all about the “razzle dazzle and flash” I am surprised they haven’t gotten something like that yet. They would use it on their NFL package before using it on a sport that it was created for.

  2. Nonsense! That’s old school baby. We’ve got a combonation of solid AND dashed lines.

    Honestly though I don’t need any graphics to show me what I’ve already seen and if a camera didn’t pick it up, just show me the replay. No need for the fluff or in this case the MS Paint.

    1. Whoever gave a thumbs down to that is either:

      1- Old and needs bright arrows and circles to see
      2- Doesn’t understand the game and depends on these weak attempts to school us to the facts (more than likely the case)
      3- Doesn’t realize they usually show replays of play not caught in view

  3. Yes that need updating, but that’s trivial. They need to drag Fox Soccer Report kicking and screaming out of the mid 90’s! Do they actually use a VHS camcorder to record the show? I heard they were shutting down the Canadian studio or at least cutting the budget, GOOD! Show Sky Sports News instead or get a better show!

  4. What a terrible product Red Bee has….Still trying to play Gerrard and Lampard in the same midfield and you call that progress!?!?!

  5. I know their production values are still lacking at times, but come on; they still can’t find their way to regularly having post-match interviews broadcast and their pregame shows are still nothing more than a glorified, condensed version of their goals on sunday broadcasts with little actual analysis of the match at hand…and the on-screen graphics are the biggest problem?

    1. Not the biggest area of improvement, I agree. But I never said that.

      Speaking of the post-match interviews, FOX Soccer is doing more of them. But they’re missing the mark at times. After the Chelsea game on Saturday, they did a post-match interview with Juan Mata. But the post-match interview I wanted to see and hear was with Roberto Martinez to hear his opinion about the dodgy referee decisions. They never aired it.

      The Gaffer

      1. I never watch a pre match, half time, or full time show on Fox! I turn the TV to mute and listen to BBC Five Live. I don’t understand why they don’t just pick up the Sky Sports feed and save a bunch of money. It’s the same company – News Corp. the clowns they have on now I think I know more about the Premiership and CL. And what is with Warren Barton? Does he move??

  6. Is FOX Soccer still going to be around 18 months from now?

    I have my doubts.

    Not only is Qatar Media circling FOX Soccer like a vulture, Comcast now wants to move in for the kill.

    Don’t be surprised if:

    The Barcelona-Real Madrid “clasicos” in La Liga move to Telemundo next season.

    The “Super Bowl Sunday” big EPL match featuring Manchester United moves to NBC in 2014.

    Ultimately, FOX will make a lot more money in the U.S. if SPEED, FUEL TV, FOX Soccer, and FOX Soccer Plus were converted into “FOX Sports 1”, “FOX Sports 2”, “FOX Sports 3”, and “FOX Sports Plus”. All 4 can then be loaded up with U.S. college football on Saturday nights in the Autumn, and U.S. college basketball every night during the winter.

    1. “All 4 can then be loaded up with U.S. college football on Saturday nights in the Autumn, and U.S. college basketball every night during the winter.”

      Assuming they win the bids for those rights.

  7. Mr. Gaffer, I agree with your analysis of the Fox graphics deficiencies. New software isn’t cheap . . . but Fox Soccer IS. It’s the bargain basement of Fox Sports.

    Concerning a realignment of the existing Fox Sports entities to “Fox Sports 1 through 4”: Fox already has rights to various college football and basketball packages. It might be possible to convert their existing rights, along with soccer, to the new channels. They wouldn’t necessarily have to start from scratch.

    Obviously, over the long term they would need to secure new rights packagesfrom the ground up.

      1. Why they choose to air only “select” games on their website instead of the full schedule even though one is paying for it?

        1. The majority of the Premier League games are shown on FOX Soccer 2 Go. If they showed all of them live on FS2Go, then most people would unsubscribe from their FOX Soccer TV subscription, which is the cash cow (and flagship) of their business.

          I’ve written about this tens of times.

          The Gaffer

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