A Preview of What the Premier League Will Look Like On NBC Sports: What We Can Expect From Production

At the NBC Sports press conference in April to announce plans for the Premier League coverage beginning on August 17, 2013, I had an opportunity to interview NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network Executive Producer Sam Flood about the visual appearance of the Premier League on US television, and what we can expect to see from a production perspective.

“It’ll be different than MLS. We’ll take advantage of the location, the place and the stadiums. And it’ll all be incorporated and developed into an overall look, which we’re in the process of doing that now. Our art department does something special for everything we do.

“We’re always looking to creatively showcase and make people understand why this property is more than special.”

I asked Flood about the new studio in Stamford, Connecticut where Rebecca Lowe and colleagues Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe will be based, and how that’ll impact the TV viewing experience.

“The primary studio has up to seven different ‘locations’ that we can have the talent work from. The home desk has a massive multiple screen wall that can be broken up, so on [the final day of the season] we could have all ten games displayed behind on this giant mosaic. There’s a lot of fun things we can do with it.”

A topic that is a divisive one among soccer fans in the United States is whether a ticker should be running across the bottom of the screen. Here’s what Flood had to say about it.

“When the ball is in play, I don’t allow it. I don’t allow it in hockey. I don’t allow it in this sport. I don’t think it’s the right thing to do for the viewer.”

Following up on the ticker controversy, I asked Flood whether scores from other live matches would be shared during the commentary of other matches.

“At half-time, we’ll certainly be updating everyone with what’s going on. We’re undecided with whether we’re going to drop down scores [during live matches]. What we do with hockey, we drop down scores of other games in progress. I think we should, but we need to make a decision of what will be the fairest to the viewer.”

On a related note, will NBC Sports feature on-screen graphics to enhance analysis of matches similar to ESPN’s Axis replay system?

“We have similar technology. We’ve used it for NFL and hockey. We think we have an enhanced system above that that we’ll probably be using it, but we’re still going through the process.”

29 thoughts on “A Preview of What the Premier League Will Look Like On NBC Sports: What We Can Expect From Production”

  1. Does Mr. Flood or anyone at NBCSN have an e-mail address or site where viewers can leave comments/suggestions?
    I would hope they only reveal scores for other matches during halftime and post-match commentary.
    I enjoy watching all matches and do my best to stay spoiler-free. I hope NBCSN strongly considers against in-match updates.

    1. Hi Dan, I’ll see what I can find, but executives from NBC Sports read EPL Talk, so your message will be heard loud and clear.

      The Gaffer

  2. Will they be running a review show on Sunday nights like Fox Soccer-its my favorite way to warp up the weekend.

      1. Gaffer: I looked at the link and don’t see a nightly show like the Fox Soccer News? Did I miss it or is there not going to be a nightly news type show?

        1. There won’t be a nightly news show. beIN SPORT has The Express, which will probably be your next best show to watch after FOX Soccer shuts down this summer.

          The Gaffer

      1. they don’t. I have directv and the spanish package provides me with all the soccer channels I need except for nbc sports. I have hd service and dvr service with 3 boxes and I pay 80 a month. Nbc sports is on a higher english tier package and I’m not going to spend over 100 a month so spanish it is.

  3. it’s nice to hear Mr Flood say “it depends on whats best for the viewer”.

    The production value of their coverage of the NFL is very good and I’m sure it will be the same quality. Im looking forward to see what they do with the analysis tools they have, Sky Sports with Nevile do a good job of walking people thru with the video interaction, I wonder who if anyone will fill a similar role with a similar delivery?

    I hope they add a “ref” to Review decisions..not to be a sensationalist but to give perspective.

    On Talksport the Sportsbar (2PM – 5pm Pacific) with Andy Goldstein and Jason Cundy on Mondays has a feature called “Dermot O’query” where former BPL Ref Dermot Gallagher addresses the weekends refereeing decisions as well as taking questions from the Public using twitter, email and text on actual and bizarre made up situations that result in relaying the laws of the game in an amusing way… The segment is about 15 minutes long and a great listen.

    It would also be good for them to do a show that is a mix of the Sports nation show on ESPN and Soccer am/ Baddiel and Skinner… A BPL AND MLS fan show with supporters across both leagues can attend a studio as a real audience.

    A forum to interact with the fans of football, the mix of MLS and BPL will be key but a 65 35 seems like it might work as I go through some aspects in my mind.

    A relaxed well facilitated interface for the fans of the game with interaction through technology.

    Could be on a wednesday with the first half review games and the second previewing.

    Just some thoughts…

    So much potential!

    1. I love the idea of a ref being on hand to talk about the big decisions. Even if the ref is in Europe and just does segment over a satellite uplink I’d think it would be a great addition.

      I’d also like to see NBC get a information guy from the press in England like we see with Chris Mortenson & John Clayton at ESPN w/the NFL or a Peter Gammons for MLB Network. Someone who is well connected and has a ton of contacts when it comes to breaking news. Grant Wahl has done a good job of being that guy for Fox Soccer the past couple of seasons.

    1. It could simply be that the score ticker has generated so much angst in the past among fans.

      At a time when pro-ticker fans have other options for scores, the ticker probably just isn’t worth the headache for networks.

      1. I think it goes back to what NBC’s main focus is — which is to focus on the game and let that do the talking, rather than having too many distractions on screen that take you away from the game.

        The Gaffer

        1. Yeah, you are probably right. In my opinion a ticker never really hurt my viewing experience, other than I don’t like to see when the team I’m going for is losing every minute on the bottom of the screen.

          1. They run a ticker during the F1 races and I hate it. It’s pointless and they squish the race picture to fit it in. It’s noticible and I can’t stand it. Ruins the viewing experience.

  4. Count me among the many EPL viewers stateside who don’t want updates on other games during the action. Don’t people at NBC know we DVR other games ? If the scores are given just at halftime they’re easy enough to avoid.

    1. Couldn’t agree more. If I want to know scores I can go on the web to find that. Probably to nbc’s soccer website.

      I find his statement “I think we should” strange as soccer fans are pretty vocal in their opposition so why does he think he should?

      I see lots of people vehemently against it and no one making strong cries for it.

      1. He’s saying ‘I think we should’ because a final decision hasn’t been made yet.

        The majority of people are against having spoilers, but there are still some people who prefer to have tickers and scorelines shared during games.

        The Gaffer

  5. Another burning question for me is, for the non-marquee games where NBC doesn’t use its own announcers, will they stick with the audio from UK TV ? I sure hope so, as most of the English announcers are terrific. I shudder to think they might follow the Fox precedent of showing a telecast from the UK and having it “announced” by two guys back in a studio in LA.

    1. For the games where NBC won’t have commentators on-site, they’ll be using the world-feed (TWI/IMG) commentators.

      The Gaffer

      1. A minor distraction in an otherwise outstanding program but understandable. The world feed has always seemed somewhat disconnected from the action.

        Hopefully NBC can arrange the early and late games and its main game of the day to have their crews at.

  6. PLEASE! PLEASE! Do NOT post scores of other EPL games during the NBC transmission of a game. Some of us watch several games, and do not want to know the result before viewing those games. I have no problem with scores being given at half-time, as I then know at what point I will not watch TV, or fast forward my recording.

  7. Hopefully, they’ll finally replace those insipid outdoors/hunting/fishing shows and replace them with Match of the Day repeats. 😀

  8. PLEASE! NBC…. No score ticker during the game. That is the worst. When I watch Ian Darke on ESPN I literally tape up a magazine to my tv and mute the sound so I dont get spoilers regarding any of my games. I WANT TO WATCH MY GAMES AND *** N O T *** ALREADY KNOW THE SCORE. ghhh. To the NBC guy that said “I think we should” I have one comment on that: “NOOOO. You shouldn’t.” It kills my weekend if I know scores to games I’m totally stoked about seeing… Just a total bummer. So, please please… To echo the feelings of I’m sure the majority of us hardcore EPL fans… NO SCORE SPOILERS DURING MATCHES. Keep it to half-time, that’s fine. I’ll hit fast forward, blur my eyes, do the math for the 15 min interval, then get back to my game… And then *** I can watch my next game in total peace, totally happy with NBC… Totally in the dark as to who won my next match. Yay! What a concept: watching a game and *not already knowing the score* – How innovative! That’s the lame thing about American Football… You cannot go three seconds without being slaughtered with scores from around the league. ——– You see, with us Americans and the EPL it’s different… we did not grow up in Liverpool or Manchester, so, at least to me, **every single game each week in the EPL is exciting** —– I literally watch every single game I can with an awesome neutral perspective. I have I’d say at least 8 to 10 teams each week that I love watching. Swansea for their passing and pitch control, Liverpool for Anfield, Suarez, Coutinho, Gerrard and Brendan’s system, Man City because I’ve fallen for the Blues, their style of play, their dominance, their faults… Their Fergie Time heroics. I also love following the sides battling to not be relegated; Wigan for Maloney, South Hampton for Jay Rodriguez and crew, New Castle for Ben Arfa and the French connection – – – – Arsenal for the vibe I feel when watching a game unfold at the Emirates, Santi Cazola and Giroud, their chase to remain in the top 4, Everton for the blue collar feel of the stadium, the grit of their team… West Ham for the bubbles and Chelsea because they were the very first EPL team I ever saw play (back in 2010) when I stumbled across my first ever EPL game on FoxSoccer. The list is endless, I (along with all true fans reading this) could go on and on and on. We simply love *our* Beautiful Game. Myself: I’ve played it since I was three. Played club soccer religiously until 19 then this low middle-class kid had to get a job and buy gas and pay for a crappy apartment. My father used to live in Brazil and brought back his passion for the game and passed it onto his youngest son…. SO PLEASE PLEASE HEAR ME WHEN I SAY “watching it with a score ticker would just be awful.” I DO NOOOOTTT want to know the scores of the games as they are happening within the game that I am watching. I would have to tape up a magazine in the ticker area to block the scores, and that would be a shame. Also, please don’t have the NBC commentators say the scores within the game either… Then I’d have to mute the commentary as well. Please just save it for halftime. No one, I repeat: No one will be left out in the cold if they don’t have a score ticker. We will all, in appropriate due time get the information about scores… But I don’t want it updated as the scores and outcomes happen. It would be like going to a movie and some dude right behind you tells you what is going to happen before you see it. It just RUINS the movie. Please don’t spoil our movies. I am an American who is addicted to the game of football and to the EPL specifically, and being from this side of the pond gives me the coolest perspective on watching all of these matches unfold each week… I get to enjoy them all simply because I love the game and I love this magnificent league, this league of true sport… this game of Gods and Kings. We will all find our scores eventually, but I like to find them once I’ve watched a thing of beauty for 90+ minutes. There is ZERO joy in knowing a score before I have seen the game. There is only regret and shame that my eyes happened to catch a glimpse of something that should never be there in the first place, a score ticker. The beauty and suspense is in the “not knowing” of an outcome… shame and regret comes in the “knowing” of an outcome before you’ve has a chance to witness it with your own eyes, time, and passion. Please (forever) keep our screens free of detrimental and useless information. K Riz

  9. With this new NBC deal, will we still get to see sky sports news? Hear the soothing Martin Tyler? And get to see England friendlies and World Cup qualifying?

  10. I am now not sujre the place you’re getting your info, however good topic.

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