NBC Sports Plans to Use Native UK Commentators for EPL Coverage, Says Source

It’s believed that NBC Sports will use native UK announcers for its coverage of the Premier League from 2013-2016, a UK source told EPL Talk.

NBC executives were in London last week to present their coverage plans to the Premier League. NBC Chairman Mark Lazarus told Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch that “We will be authentic to the land of the EPL.” It’s understood that the Premier League was very impressed by NBC’s coverage plans.

Questions and concerns had arisen in the soccer community last week after FOX Soccer announced that self-acclaimed soccer novice Gus Johnson would be the lead commentator for several of the most high-profile club soccer games on US television including the Champions League Final, FA Cup Final, Real Madrid against Manchester United and the race for second with Chelsea against Manchester City.

Thankfully, it appears that NBC Sports will be making the correct decision to focus on authenticity in its coverage of the world’s most popular sports league. If the information that EPL Talk’s UK source provided is correct, this is a brilliant decision by NBC Sports Group. The sport is continuing to grow in popularity in the United States, and retaining the authenticity is an important move to win over more viewers.

When it comes to the English Premier League, we fans expect the best of the best. And by having native UK commentators, who are some of the best in the world, this will enhance our viewing experience on top of what we already know about NBC Sports’ coverage plans for the EPL.

If the UK source is correct that NBC Sports will use native UK commentators, do you believe this is a wise decision or mistake? Share your feedback in the comments section below.

72 thoughts on “NBC Sports Plans to Use Native UK Commentators for EPL Coverage, Says Source”

  1. What does “native UK commentators” mean? They’re just going to use the world feed or they’re hiring UK commentators to work for them directly?

    1. ESPN won’t be showing Premier League football by the time NBC start their coverage. In fact, ESPN UK will be closed by then. They’re currently in talks with Sky and BT about a takeover of all UK assets.

    2. NBC already has a deal with BT Vision to work together. What that means for we, the US viewers, we don’t know yet. But BT has big plans for its coverage including using a state-of-the-art studio in east London that was used in the Olympics.

      The Gaffer

  2. My hunch is they wil use the BT feeds when available and then the world feed all other times

    BT is looking to poach top talent so I’m hoping their productions will be sky sports quality


    1. BT aren’t looking to poach anybody. They’re looking to sign people up obviously but so far their acquisitions (including the main host of Premier League matches) have been far from thrilling.

      1. There have been rumours that they are interested in some sky announcers.. Even Gary lineker has been was reportedly on their wish list


        1. Lineker is either about to sign, or has just signed, a new contract to stay with MOTD.

          Any commentators that leave Sky to join BT will only do so because they’re not getting a look in at the moment and they want some guaranteed matches to work on. For the new deal, Sky will a) have the best matches overall and b) have 116 of them, compared to BT’s 38 so it’d be a relative step down for most commentators to join the junior partner.

          BT have been after the services of Jamie Carragher but he’s reported to be on the verge of joining Sky instead. BT are untested and don’t have enough to entice people with so the biggest and the best will stick with what they know… Sky.

          1. Wouldn’t count on any transfers directly from Sky.

            I’d look more at the likely candidates, with Jon Champion being at the top of the list. Sky’s big 3 are Tyler, Parry and Hawthorne and I can’t see any of those de-camping to the junior partner, especially not Tyler.

            Ian Darke is another option for BT and that could also tie in well for NBC viewers if a deal is done to carry the same commentary feed.

            The only other name I think they’d be interested in is Steve Wilson.

          2. Agree with you on Darke and Champion being the lead candidates.. I’m sure Champion would prefer Premier league over the SPL


          3. BT is trying to get John Murray as their lead commentator. John Murray is a BBC Radio commentator and seems to have declined the offer after being promised to be the lead guy for BBC radio World Cup coverage.

          4. Champion is out of a job come May so his 2 choices are Sky and BT. At the moment he’s the #1 at ESPN but if he went to Sky he’d have to settle for being #2 at best… If he went to BT he’d be able so sit pretty as the #1 choice… but equally he’d have to take a hit on the quality of the matches he covers because for every one of the ‘best’ picks BT have got, they’ve got an equal number of the ‘worst’ picks of the week too.

          5. psyer – Where did you hear that from? Interesting you mention him because I’ve heard his name bandied around a few times but so far nothing has come of it as he gets some decent games at 5 Live.

          6. Not a big fan of Charles Sale or the Daily Fail. He’s 50/50 with what he gets right and what he just makes up for a decent story.

            However.. that bit you linked does actually say what I thought, that Murray has decided to stay with 5 Live instead of a shift to BT.

  3. That’s probably for the best. Arlo White could certainly commentate the games, but why take him away from his duties as MLS Play-By-Play man when you can easily use commentary from the park?

  4. I think they should cultivate their own broadcast, they can hire away one of the top guys and have him groom his own team. I will throw my hat in the ring right now :)

    Seriously, though if they are serious about it they should follow the ESPN route, although I would suggest someone a bit more verbose, with a wider vocabulary than McManaman lmao!!

  5. Who has ESPN lost the Premier League rights to in the UK? I know they had one game a week. Who is taking that from them next season? Sorry, live in the US and just looking out for my Dad at home.

    1. They were outbid by BT. They’re a phone and broadband provider who also have a pretty poor TV service with bad subscriber numbers so they’ve spent big on Premier League rights in the hope of getting more subscribers to their Vision platform.


      One of the worst logos I’ve ever seen as well.

  6. Good maybe all our bitching last week on the Gus Johnson article was heard after all. I don’t care who it is or what nationality they are as long as it’s the best person available for the job.

  7. When I first moved to the U.S. some 15 years ago I remember Fox Sports International was brand new and almost impossible to get. ESPN showed one MLS game a week or so and at the time had one EPL game. I thought that wasn’t bad at the time. So to move ahead 15 years later to the point there are channels dedicated to soccer and more games on than to humanly watch is amazing to me. Therefore to quibble over commentators doesn’t even seem relevant to me. I might have cared once but let’s face it, soccer fans have never had it so good. There’s so many ways to watch it that it’s unfathomable from the dark ages.

  8. I have Comcast so I’m praying that NBC Sports won’t come up with another Setanta or Fox Soccer Plus satellite channel that Comcast won’t offer. Give me Martin Tyler and Gary Neville every time and I’m happy.

  9. Hopefully all the moaning on here helped make this decision. Leave the yank commentators to the MLS where they can spout about “PK’s”, “shots on frame”, “The American!” etc all they want.

    Clearly, NBC wants a fast start out of the gate and recognizes the fact that the EPL is fine just the way it is. The idea that you need American commentators to get Americans to watch is ludicrous. Just serve up a quality product. The ones who are interested will tune in. Its stupid to expect massive growth in viewers when there is an element that will NEVER like the game because they don’t know any better. Serve your core audience first before catering to these muppets. NBC seems to understand this while Fox is about to make a colossal mistake on Wednesday by turning the Champions league into the MLS.

  10. Serious question for the Gaffer (and for anyone else as well):

    What would Gus Johnson have to do for you to include him in the discussion as an acceptable or even a desirable choice to commentate on games in the future (at NBC or elsewhere)?

    1. Good question. For me, he’d need to do it the old fashioned way by building a track record of commentating games and showing that he had the skills, knowledge and experience to make the grade. He may have that in time for the World Cup in 2018, but to throw him in the deep end to begin commentating on Champions League and EPL games on FOX Soccer is, in my opinion, irresponsible.

      The Gaffer

      1. Exactly. And that track record needs to be earned by going to Europe, not shouting at a monitor in Los Angeles. Lets see this guy on a freezing Tuesday night in Sunderland for a meaningless game against Stoke. Lets see how much he prepared to put in to becoming a top notch commentator. Something tells me Fox will simply pair him with the useless Wynalda, hardly a good role model.

      2. Fox won’t change now they made their announcement… No matter how atrocious he ends up being, he will commentate on these cup finals. I do see a win win … Fox could put the world feed on SAP, I doubt they would so it for Wednesday, but hopefully Thursday morning they will see how bad things went and make some changes


    2. I say this with no animosity towards Johnson, but for me, there is absolutely nothing he can do. Lacking a lifetime of growing up with and following European football, I don’t see how he can bring to the match the background knowledge of the players and the teams that I expect a commentator to have and share.

      I expect him to be well prepared in a “crammed” sort of way and to call a decent match following the ball around, but that’s it.

  11. Great news. NBC seems to be taking its EPL coverage seriously and listening to the fans. Now they need to announce a stand alone streaming subscription option and I’ll fully exhale in relief!

  12. Good to hear. Also good in terms of what it implies (i.e. no attempts to “American it down” in terms of the coverage.)

    Nothing against Americans! I’m one! I just think the world’s most popular league within the world’s most popular sport should have justice done to it in terms of how it is presented.

    1. Never going to happen. They bring in voice coaches before those folks ever hit the air. :-)

      If expecting to hear a British voice call a British game makes me an Anglophile, then….guilty as charged.

  13. All for the local talent. I would like to see an American voice brought in. I have advocated for a good while that an American veteran of the EPL should at least me brought in for color. Plenty of choices are around now. This may become the reason for Brad Friedel to hang it up if he can go to work for NBC.

    Please NBC stay away from the world feed. Worst of all options. ESPN took the Sky feed which was much better. I expect NBC to try their own hand at least with some matches but otherwise latch onto the BT feed. On site broadcast teams are key. NBC felt very much at home during the Olympics and it apparently played a part in their decision to think about the contract.

    1. The video feed between Sky and World feed is exactly the same. ESPN does not use Sky’s audio feed. They use their own commentators.

      1. It was my understanding that the world feed was not used and ESPN has its own broadcast team as we know and gets the camera to cover them.

        1. ESPN is using the TWI/IMG feed, which is the same feed used by Sky and other TV broadcasters around the world. In the past, ESPN has had some of their cameras at games to shoot some additional video (before the match, crowd shots, etc).

          The Gaffer

          1. When Sky have a live game on UK TV, it’s actually IMG who use Sky’s feed because they produce their own matches. IMG only produce the ESPN UK matches and all other non-live UK matches.

            1. In the UK that may be the case, but worldwide we get the TWI/IMG feed for every single Premier League game.

              The Gaffer

          2. You get it delivered on the world feed but tonights game for example was provided to you by Sky. IMG don’t produce the games where you see ‘Sky Sports’ on the advertising hoardings around the side of the pitch – Sky take their own cameras to their own matches and everybody feeds directly from that.

            1. Sky Sports wasn’t on the advertising hoardings around the side of the pitch on the feed that we watched today. TWI/IMG is using the technology that allows them to superimpose ads for global brands over the Sky Sports ads, so – for example – we often see ads in Chinese (or Japanese or Korean; I’m not sure which one).

              The Gaffer

          3. I’ve got a season pass to ADMC from the Middle East (using DNS) who provide the matches from the world feed and I had Sky Sports on the advertising via that feed. In fact it was identical to that of Sky Sports.

            1. That’s weird. Maybe the Middle East uses the Sky feed, and the rest of the world has the TWI/IMG one. The one we watched in the United States today was shown on ESPN with Ian Darke and Steve McManaman calling the game instead of Martin Tyler.

              The Gaffer

          4. That is weird. I knew ESPN US had Darke & Macca on commentary and the world feed was done by Martin Tyler & David Pleat but not sure how you’ve had different advertising around the pitch without it being done from ‘source’ because if you had it done then by rights, so did everybody on the same feed (i.e. the one I was watching on the world feed from ADMC).

            Will have to ask and see if anybody knows how the ads were different for the North America region.

          5. To cooment on the Middle East feed. I just got back from Saudi Arabia and the ESPN games did not feature Darke or Macca. They were called by Tyler. KSA had eight channels devoted to football from every conceivable place on earth. One channel showed every Premier match live with endless repeats and also had loads of the Sky football shows (although Andy Townsend seemed to be on all of them). Alan Curbishley someone we don’t often hear in the US, is very good value in the studio discussions. And best of all not a suit in the place.

            The football quiz games were enjoyable until I became sick of seeing Ian Dowie’s ugly mug every five minutes (although to his credit he does know lots of obscure facts). The one where they Skype fans from around the globe was interesting

  14. Gaffer, does this mean NBC would not look to snap up Ian Darke and Macca?
    Would love to see them continue doing at least one game a week on our broadcasts.

    1. Or get NBC Sports down from the attic packages it inhabits on many cable/sat providers (I’ll be dropping cable/sat otherwise).

      The price of a streaming plan will be fair, as long as the quality is better than Fox’s. I’ve got Center Ice on the Roku and am stunned at the quality! Of course, they’ll have to offer a streaming plan and not make it contingent on receiving NBC Sports.

  15. I Just listend to the gus interview on fox soccer news… it doesn’t look (sound) good…Drog-BA…really?…add to the fact he chose chelsea as his team that alone is reason enough to think he will suck.

    In all seriousness tho, mispronouncing players names and not knowing the vernacular is clearly going to be a problem based off that interview with the nintendo wii looking dude or “B” as he was referred to by gus… (I like Brandon, it took a while but he is far better than that new angry looking australian who reminds me of nelson from the Simpsons for some reason).


    it’s messed up that I have to watch the coverage online instead of the HD package I pay for because of the audio…you know its going to be out of sync!

    Man Utd v Madrid 2 great games that every football fan wants to watch… ruined!

    fox your mean heartless B*****ds

  16. My biggest fear is that they would disregard the English commentators and use American. I have watched games with the Americans, and they don’t have the feel. Excellent move for a successful run with soccer. Please consider all English commentators as they are excellent, most of all done leave out Ian Darke and Martin Tyler.

  17. I’d really like to know will their announcers ruin all the other games by telling you of each goal scored like ESPN does.

  18. Thank goodness! Gus Johnson is a good basketball announcer. Soccer? Um…no. Not a chance. Painful. I’m categorizing here, but most American announcers feel the need to fill every second of air time with nonsense. I’m watching Europa League right now and had to mute the TV. Brian McBride was painful to listen to. Good on-field players do not make good commentators. Stick with the Brits.

  19. I am in Canada and we used to get Setanta until Sportsnet took over a couple of years ago…they are g*d-awful! they only show the games once, unless they happen to replay one on their only channel that isn’t HD. They have two pundits (Canadians stationed in Toronto)who talk in before the game and at half-time, including during the Champions League games, and tell the scores of the other games that you probably are recording to watch later. They don’t show the games in order of play and usually stick a couple of rugby games in between the footy games, so some of them aren’t on until after midnight. They cancel a lot of regular shows, like premier league talk shows, in order to show cricket or rugby and cricket takes up 5 or 6 hours of tv, so you end of up watching football games a day late and in the meantime you can’t listen to or watch sports shows because you don’t want to hear the scores. We have some really awful commentators and in particular, terrible “color” commentators. Some of them talk talk talk during the action and then we get 2 or 3 replays of whatever just transpired, even if someone just falls down and adjusts his socks! Even when they are in play the color person keeps yacking on and on. Some main commentators seem to bring in binders full of stats and useless information that they talk about during the game ..so commentators are very important. They can completely ruin a game. I just stopped watching the Arsenal game today because of the awful commentating, now I’m working on the Man U. game – I usually have to keep one finger on the mute button and the other finger on fastforward. Sportsnet is a complete crap football (soccer) station.

    Also, because of BE-In channel in the U.S., Canada no longer receives coverage of La Liga or Serie A…. haven’t had it since the start of 2012-2013 season and it doesn’t look very hopeful for next year, either. Are we the only country in the world who can’t watch the world’s best player? unreal…
    Some of the worst commentators we get are Barry Horne, Dean Sturridge,
    David (Proben?Proven?)they just never know when to shut up and Steve Banyard is annoying, Jon Champion is fairly boring,and today, Arsenal v. Swansea and Man U. v. reading are really bad, haven’t heard their names mentioned yet. Alan Perry is great and Gary Taphouse is so so.
    That’s what it is like in Canada.

    1. You poor man. I’m sure your life is unbearable. I wouldn’t mind watching some cricket and rugby now and again and not have to pay extra for it. When I first moved to the U.S. it was before the days of Fox Sports International and you’d be lucky to see one MLS game a week on normal networks. Soccer fans in North America have never had it so good. So to read your rant just seems laughable, no offence mate.

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