Just in time for the 2012-13 Premier League season, ESPN will launch what will be feel like a new soccer TV show for US viewers — ESPNFC Press Pass. ESPNEWS will air the soccer discussion show six nights a week beginning Wednesday, August 15.
ESPNFC Press Pass, previously known as ESPN Soccernet Press Pass and rebranded as ESPNFC Press Pass beginning tomorrow, has been available to soccer fans across the globe — except the United States — since 2002. That changes Wednesday night when the show will be available on US television at 11pm PT/2am ET on ESPNEWS. The lively 30 minute show airs six times a week (Monday through Saturday) and features intelligent discussions about world soccer — including everything from the Premier League, Serie A, South American leagues, MLS and more.
First launched ten years ago as a once-a-week program on ESPN International’s English-language networks, the show has since grown in popularity. In 2009, it expanded to 5 nights a week before adding a sixth night in 2011. The show is available to viewers in United Kingdom, Africa, Pacific Rim, Middle East and the Caribbean. And now, despite brief appearances on US television in the past, the show will be regularly available to soccer fans stateside.
ESPNFC Press Pass features expert pundits including Gabriele Marcotti, Shaka Hislop, Tommy Smyth, Janusz Michallik, Robbie Mustoe and Steve Nicol as well as guest contributors such as Raphael Honigstein, Stewart Robson, Craig Burley, Robbie Earle and Sid Lowe. The host of ESPNFC Press Pass rotates between Dan Thomas, Adrian Healey and Andrew Orsatti.
“It’s a global football show that appeals to fans all over the world,” said ESPNFC Press Pass Producer Steve Palese. “The show is on in 107 countries around the world, and it’s a show that is pretty much based around the big teams in the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, a little bit of Bundesliga, some Paris Saint-Germain talk — mainly the most important stories in football. I think that translates to any country.”
“There are occasions where we will regionalize parts of the show if it makes sense,” added Palese. “We feel we have an editorial focus that makes sense for football fans everywhere. Obviously if it’s USA versus Mexico, we’ll probably cover that separately just for the US market.”
When asked what makes ESPNFC Press Pass different than other soccer-related shows on television, ESPNFC Press Pass pundit Janusz Michallik was quick to answer.
“We’re much freer to dive into any [soccer] topic,” answered Michallik. “When I listen to talk shows or especially television in England, you look at some of these players and you just know that they can’t be absolutely honest. There’s only so much they can say. If [the English pundits] still have aspirations to be a manager, [they] can’t say anything.”
The feedback from the sometimes fickle soccer aficionados in England has been positive. “I remember when we launched [Press Pass] in the UK,” said Michallik. “I was thinking that [people were] going to come out [and say], ‘Americans, what do they know about football?’. [It has been] very refreshing to see the reaction.”
“The show is most popular in Africa,” added Palese. “In the UK, it’s growing where it’s starting to have a loyal following. The most popular country is Nigeria. We get about 70% of our viewer feedback from there.”
ESPNFC Press Pass debuts on US television on Wednesday, August 15 at 11pm PT/2am ET. In addition to ESPNEWS, each video episode of ESPNFC Press Pass will be available each night on ESPNFC.com.