Another major soccer tournament has kicked off, and so too has the complaints about the quality of the coverage. Whether you live in the United States, England or Australia, you only have to look on Twitter to read soccer fans moaning about the Euro 2012 coverage. Sometimes I wonder whether soccer fans can ever be satisfied.
Up until now, I’ve kept quiet about the TV coverage. Over the past week, I’ve been spending my time watching ESPN, ITV and BBC, to see what their Euro 2012 coverage is like, as well as listening to talkSPORT and BBC Five Live for their radio coverage. On top of that, I’ve been watching Sky Sports News to see what their take is on the tournament.
What I’ve discovered is that the TV coverage of Euro 2012 is not that different no matter what network you watch. The formula is essentially the same during the pre-match, half-time and post-match analysis. The biggest difference is the caliber of the presenters and pundits on hand. But just as some consumers prefer Pepsi over Coke, it all comes down to personal taste. Some of us like Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer and Robbie Savage. Others like Bob Ley, Rebecca Lowe, Alexi Lalas, Roberto Martinez and Michael Ballack. We may find some people prefer Adrian Chiles, Roy Keane, Jamie Carragher, Patrick Vieira and Gareth Southgate. Or, some of us will like a combination of the above. However, the reality is that TV networks can’t make everyone happy. At the end of the day, they do the best they can, and hope viewers tune in.
The more I watch the different varieties of Euro 2012 TV coverage, the more I wonder if we, as soccer fans, even know what we want. What do we expect to see? What are we comparing it against?
We all come to the table with different styles and ideas of what we’d like to see, if we even know what we want. We know a good thing when we see it (see ESPN’s coverage of World Cup 2010), but that comes at a price. We may not agree with everything that Alexi Lalas or Michael Ballack says, but that’s what they’re paid to do. They’re there to provide their analysis. It’s so easy for we soccer fans to criticize what they say, and how they say it, but I believe it’s time to give them a break. Unless, of course, they say something factually incorrect, or completely inane. Otherwise, I think it’s time to pat the networks on the back for giving us superb coverage of what has been, so far, a very engaging tournament.