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Rating NBC Sports’ Coverage of the Premier League On US TV and Internet

nbc epl1 Rating NBC Sports Coverage of the Premier League On US TV and Internet

With 100 games of the 2013/14 Premier League season completed, it’s an opportune time to rate how NBC Sports is doing in its first season of its three season deal in broadcasting the Premier League to a US audience.

The acquisition of EPL US media rights by NBC Sports from FOX Sports has raised the bar on the TV coverage of English soccer in the States. But despite the positive steps, there are still areas of improvement needed that can make the coverage better, which will help bring more viewers to the sport.

In reviewing NBC’s work thus far, I’ve divided their coverage into 9 areas — covering everything from their web coverage and online streaming to TV production, and more.

Now that we’re 25% into the season, here’s how NBC Sports is doing so far:

Production and presentation  

nbc studio1 600x448 Rating NBC Sports Coverage of the Premier League On US TV and Internet

NBC’s production and presentation of the Premier League is exemplary. Never before have viewers in the United States had such a polished and professional experience of watching the EPL on US television. Everything from the studio set, to the camera angles and on-screen graphics are exceptional. NBC gives the Premier League (and viewers of the Premier League games) the reverence it deserves.

Pros:

1. The studio is clean, large and inviting. The open space doesn’t make the broadcast feel stuffy or cramped. Plus the large studio space gives the production crew options for different camera angles to keep the broadcast fresh and exciting.

2. The background music that’s used is unobtrusive and adds to the overall warm-and-fuzzy feeling you get when watching and listening to the broadcast.

3. The incorporation of video such as aerial footage of the stadium, players inside the tunnel before they go out on to the pitch, and fans singing anthems in their entirety before games kick-off has been a joy for soccer fans both new and old.

4. No crawl across the bottom of the screen.

5. The use of a score ticker in the right corner of the Saturday 10am ET game on NBCSN has been a revelation. It doesn’t detract from the game. It can be incredibly helpful to stay on top of the scores from the other games, and it can be useful if you want to switch channels for a second to see a goal from elsewhere (particularly during a break in play in the 10am ET NBCSN game).

6. The pre-match and post-match Premier League Live show features sound analysis and news without the joke fest or shallow coverage that FOX Soccer previously produced. There is now a reason to tune in early and to stay tuned in after Premier League matches.

7. The on-screen graphics by NBC including the score box in the top left corner are professional. They’re larger than what we’ve been accustomed to in previous years from other broadcasters, but I have no complaints.

8. Premier League matches have been given the reverence they deserve. The broadcasts start on time (compared to FOX Soccer who sometimes started “live” matches 2-3 minutes after they actually kicked off). Plus, when matches are over, NBC have switched over to other broadcasts where games are being played, which has been a small but wonderful treat this season.

Cons: 

1. NBC has experienced issues syncing up the video feed with audio feed for the games it has shown where they’ve used their own commentators (Arlo White along with a co-commentator). Thankfully those early season hiccups seem to have been resolved now.

2. The use of the two English gentlemen from Football Four Eyes at the beginning of one of their Premier League Live shows earlier this season was misguided. No one knows who these people are. They’re not funny nor are they informative.

Rating: A+

.

Commentary

arlo white cropped 600x323 Rating NBC Sports Coverage of the Premier League On US TV and Internet

When NBC Sports announced the commentary team earlier this year as well as their plans on how it would operate, there were few complaints from fans or pundits. There were, however, a lot of question marks from soccer fans who either weren’t familiar with the talent, or were skeptical. Let’s review how they’ve done thus far.

Pros:

1. The use of the commentators on site featuring Arlo White/Lee Dixon for Saturday matches, and Arlo White/Graeme Le Saux for Sunday games, has been a breath of fresh air, giving the commentaries a professional feel and remaining topical for American viewers (when necessary). It’s obvious how hard these three men work in preparing for games. And the balance of commentary and statistics is perfect. There’s no using stats here as a crutch unlike other commentators.

2. Arlo White’s temporary replacement, Steve Bower, has been brilliant. The former MUTV commentator has stepped right in where White left off (while he’s commentating MLS games). Bower, if anything, is even better than White. He’s more incisive, less talkative and has an instant camaraderie with Dixon and Le Saux.

3. The decision to bring Tim Howard into the commentary booth was risky, but it paid off for NBC with a low key and rather uneventful co-commentary where he was able to add his insight particularly regarding Joe Hart.

4. NBC’s use of their own commentators for 2-3 games per weekend coupled with their decision to use the TWI/IMG commentators for the other games has been a perfect balance.

5. The commentaries have been so practically flawless that there have been so few criticisms this season, which has been so refreshing. Soccer fans in the United States can now concentrate on the games without annoying distractions.

Cons: 

1. Other than the technical glitches and audio/video syncing issues early in the season, I have no complaints.

Rating: A-

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Analysis

nbc premier league team 600x399 Rating NBC Sports Coverage of the Premier League On US TV and Internet

Other than production and presentation, the other area that NBC had the greatest opportunity to improve on FOX Soccer’s presentation of the Premier League was in the area of analysis and punditry.

Pros:

1. The team of Rebecca Lowe, Kyle Martino, Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe are professionals who are focused on making sure that every word they utter matters. They’re not talking to fill space. Their words are meaningful.

2. The chemistry between the team feels like they’ve been working together for years. No one is trying to out-do another person on the broadcast. You get the feeling that they’re all working together to inform the viewer.

3. It’s clear to see that Martino, Earle and Mustoe work incredibly hard in watching and researching games and stats, as well as working hard in rehearsals to stay on top of their game. There have been very few flubs so far this season.

4. Rebecca Lowe is fantastic. She’s an ideal presenter to bring the Premier League into the homes of America. Her knowledge of the game is exceptional. She’s a great complement to Mustoe/Earle/Martino. And she keeps us listening in to her every word each week.

5. Kyle Martino has been a revelation this season. He’s come along so much so quickly from his days at FOX Soccer. At the same time, Earle and Mustoe have been consistent and a pleasure to watch, too.

Cons: 

1. The analysis by Earle, Mustoe and Martino is beginning to become stale. It’s not that what they’re saying is wrong or misinformed (as was so often the case with FOX Soccer’s Premier League analysis). But the analysis has become too conservative and predictable. After an impressive beginning to the season, it’s rare now that you’ll hear an enlightening piece of analysis of something you didn’t already think or see in the game yourself. The trio of pundits are oftentimes reinforcing salient points without taking the analysis to the next level, where a Gary Neville or Jamie Carragher might reveal something to us that we didn’t know or see.

2. Every time I see the trio of pundits standing in front of the jumbo TV monitor to share some tactical insight, I cringe. It’s not what they’re saying that makes me feel uncomfortable, but the whole contraption of the large monitor with antiquated touch-screen knobs and controls that doesn’t work for me. It’s awkward, clunky and the angle of a TV camera showing a TV monitor doesn’t work. Plus, I don’t want to see a shot of the two analysts standing either side of the monitor showing me the screen. I just want to see the screen itself, so I can see what they’re showing me (and hear their voices).

NBC probably spent a ton of money on the software, but there are far better pieces of technology out there that bring the viewer “into the action.” This way, it’d be easier for the viewers at home to watch and listen instead of being distracted by the method of how the analysis is being presented.

3. I’m concerned that the talent are starting to get burned out. It’s a marathon of a season, and Saturdays are a grueling 12 hour day for the NBC personalities. But mistakes are beginning to creep in, particularly small ones on Sunday morning broadcasts (presumably with the cast feeling a little tired after a long Saturday). The team are holding it together, but I wonder if there’s an opportunity to bring in some new faces now and again just to give the talent a break, so they can recharge their batteries. The key will be finding personalities who fit NBC’s ethos and who don’t downgrade the quality of the Premier League Live show.

Rating: B-

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Programming

premier league download 600x302 Rating NBC Sports Coverage of the Premier League On US TV and Internet

The quantity and quality of Premier League shows that NBC provides its viewers is enormous, more than anything a soccer fan in the United States has ever experienced.

Pros:

1. NBC’s decision to broadcast a Match of the Day and Match Of the Day 2 show was spectacular. The late night show is a brilliant way for people to catch up on the games they missed. It’s like clockwork, and it works.

2. The Premier League Club Selection Show that NBC launched in August was informative and a joy to watch. While it was aimed at new fans to soccer and the Premier League, the show was entertaining for veteran fans too.

3. NBC’s Manchester Mondays show that’s aired late on Monday night features highlights of the two Manchester club’s matches from the weekend with the added bonus of footage from the club’s official football channel. This is a must-see for City and United fans.

Cons: 

1. I underestimated how much loyalty and impact the Premier League Review Show has had on audiences that were used to watching it on Sunday nights on FOX Soccer for years. NBCSN broadcasts the Premier League Review Show on Tuesday mornings (typically at 2am ET) that includes the weekend highlights as well as the Monday game. NBC probably thought that viewers would prefer a more comprehensive weekend review show featuring highlights of all of the games, but the resounding feedback I’ve read and listened to is that people miss their Sunday night review show. Yes, NBCSN has Match Of The Day and Match of the Day 2, but they’re not in the same “easier to digest” one hour format that soccer fans have been used to religiously watching every Sunday night for years.

2. The first episode of Premier League Download was entertaining, but the show got old real fast with the same talking heads saying nothing really of interest or value. It felt more like a pop culture show about soccer — cheap, easy and empty.

3. I’m not sure how much of a priority NBCSN’s outdoor programming or infomercials are, but there’s definitely a demand from soccer fans to have more replays of Premier League games shown on TV each week — even if it’s in the middle of the night when viewers can DVR games. Not everyone has access to Premier League Extra, so having more games shown on NBCSN would be appreciated by all soccer fans.

Rating: B+

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NBC Sports Live Extra

NBC Sports LIve Extra 600x450 Rating NBC Sports Coverage of the Premier League On US TV and Internet

Watching soccer games online is more commonplace than it’s every been — whether you’re on the road, at work or at home with a laptop open while watching a different game on TV. The NBC Sports Live Extra app allows Premier League soccer fans the ability to watch any live game, which has never been available before in the States.

Pros:

1. For the live experience, the accessibility of NBC Sports Live Extra has been fantastic, offering soccer fans the ability to watch any Premier League match live on their computers, smart phones or tablets.

2. During a live game, the features of NBC Sports Live Extra are very useful. You can jump to the goals within seconds of them being scored, or you can return to ‘Go live’ with a simple click.

Cons: 

1. For the on-demand experience, NBC Sports Live Extra has been nothing short of a disaster. If you miss a live game, NBC Sports Live Extra currently doesn’t have the ability to let you watch the game on-demand via smart phones or tablets. You can however watch on-demand games online, which leads me to my next point.

2. Only select games are available to watch on-demand online via NBC Sports Live Extra. And finding those said games can be an ordeal, to say the least. In previous weeks, NBC’s Pro Soccer Talk website has posted links to the on-demand games, but there have been times when the links have pointed to team guides, not the games themselves. Even when you can find the on-demand games, the matches often buffer, making online viewing practically a nightmare to watch.

The reality is that you if miss a live match, and you want to watch it on-demand, NBC Sports Live Extra is currently not a viable or consistent solution. Your best bet is to watch the games on Premier League Extra Time (more on that later) or to just watch the highlights show instead (which is a shame if you want to see the game in its entirety).

3. For soccer fans who like to jump from game to game during live matches, the pre-roll video plays every single time a live match is selected. I’m for all monetizing NBC Sports Live Extra to help pay for rights fees and incurred costs of running a platform like NBC Sports Live Extra, but the pre-roll ads get in the way of being able to switch quickly from game to game especially during Saturday 10am-Noon ET windows. If it’s possible to show the pre-roll video just once every 24 hours, that would be better.

4. When watching live games online via NBC Sports Live Extra, I’ve experienced this issue several times throughout the season — when you click on the links to the other live games in the horizontal navbar near the top of the page, the links are sometimes not updated so clicking on the link will take you to a different game entirely than the one you chose.

5. I’ve noticed that the iOS version of the NBC Sports Live Extra app often stops playing and returns to the main menu — even when I’m watching games live via a strong WiFi connection.

6. In a moving car (while sitting in a passenger seat), trying to watch a live game via the NBC Sports Live Extra app is practically impossible. You may get a minute of the game, at best. But the iOS app (using AT&T’s 3G network) doesn’t allow you to watch live games in their entirety (not even close). In contrast, the FOX Soccer 2Go app is far more reliable in the same circumstances.

7. As the popularity of NBC Sports Live Extra has increased during the season with more soccer fans watching live games on it, the video quality has been an issue particularly on 10am ET games when some of the top teams are playing in the same window. Even with a hard-wired Internet connection, buffering happens more than it should. And when games are watched in full-screen mode, the video quality is often not good enough.

8. Android users experienced a lot of issues earlier in the season with the NBC Sports Live Extra app for Android devices being practically unusable. NBC, to their credit, upgraded the Android app to improve the viewing experience. Technically, however, it’s a difficult job to keep all Android users happy as the app works well on most of the popular Android devices, not all. It’s the nature of the beast, unfortunately.

Rating: D+

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Premier League Extra Time

premier league extra time screenshot 600x339 Rating NBC Sports Coverage of the Premier League On US TV and Internet

NBC launched a brand-new feature for its first year of Premier League TV coverage, which is Premier League Extra Time. The feature is actually overflow channels that most TV providers offer to its subscribers, so you can watch live games that are not being shown live on NBC or NBCSN. Plus many of the games are available as video on-demand for later viewing.

Pros:

1. If your TV provider offers Premier League Extra Time, consider yourself fortunate. There are still a small number of TV providers who are not providing the service. Or, for example, Tivo users who have Xfinity Comcast are not able to access the Premier League Extra Time features via on-demand.

Cons: 

1. The only complaint is that some TV providers don’t make Premier League Extra Time available, but that’s no fault of NBC Sports. That’s a decision for each TV provider. NBC is making the overflow channels available free-of-charge.

Rating: B+

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Marketing and promotion

ted lasso spurs 600x309 Rating NBC Sports Coverage of the Premier League On US TV and Internet

Production, analysts and commentary are key ingredients in making a successful launch, but the marketing and promotion to let people know that Premier League matches are now on NBC Sports is just as crucial.

Pros: 

1. NBC scored a home run hit with their Ted Lasso viral videos starring Jason Sudeikis. The NBC network gained instant credibility on both sides of the Atlantic, making sure that the words “NBC” and “EPL” were on the tips of the tongues of all US soccer fans.

2. NBC scored another hit with the advertising it did on the NBC subway cars in New York City. The subway cars were so popular that fans of some of the clubs made special pilgrimages to see them in person, and to share the photos on social media for everyone else to see.

3. Even though the decision by NBC was risky to put Gareth Bale on a giant billboard in New York’s Time Square, it was bold, caught people’s attention and made a statement that English soccer has hit mainstream.

4. NBC’s advertising on taxi cabs and on street posters in NYC was another smart move.

5. NBC’s I Was There video series has been brilliant, often capturing what it means to be a football supporter, showing the passion and fandom that we often don’t see on television.

Cons: 

1. None.

Rating: A

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Advertising

bubba knife blade 600x336 Rating NBC Sports Coverage of the Premier League On US TV and Internet

This is one of those aspects of NBC’s coverage of the Premier League that will often be overlooked, but it has an impact on the overall coverage in terms of how the league is presented. When Premier League games were featured on FOX Soccer, the advertising on the network and during the programming often were smaller brands or the same ads over and over again from energy supplements, cheap phone services or hair replacement companies. As the ratings grew, so too did the calibre of advertisers who paid to have their products or services aired on FOX Soccer.

Pros:

1. With NBC Sports, the majority of brands who are advertising during Premier League broadcasts on the US network are major brands.

Cons: 

1. On NBCSN, there are legacy advertisers who are targeting their products at the outdoors audience who watch the hunting and fishing programs on the network. However, there is overlap where these ads are often shown around Premier League programming. One of the ads, in particular, turns my stomach every time I watch it — especially when I see it during early morning broadcasts of Premier League matches. It’s for a knife product where slabs of guts and raw meat are shown on screen as the knife cuts through them. More than 10% of the audience who watch Premier League games on NBCSN are between the ages of 6-17. I don’t think they, or anyone else (unless they’re outdoors people), should be subjected to that type of advertising. It cheapens the Premier League brand.

Rating: C+

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Web content

pro soccer talk 600x341 Rating NBC Sports Coverage of the Premier League On US TV and Internet

Six months ago, NBC’s Pro Soccer Talk website was just one of many websites out there that produced (for the most part) average content. In the past few months however, the site has become more well-read and appreciated for its coverage of world soccer.

Pros:

1. The weekly Football Focus column by Liviu Bird is one of the best features on the entire site. The amount of detail and analysis that goes into the column are outstanding.

2. The sheer amount of content has increased at Pro Soccer Talk, bringing viewers a better choice of articles about the world’s game, not just MLS.

3. Joe Prince-Wright‘s exhaustive articles about Premier League clubs, where he visits the towns and cities, interviews supporter clubs and club officials, as well as paints a picture of what life is like in that part of Britain, are some of the best work that NBC’s Pro Soccer Talk has ever produced. Incredibly well-written.

Cons: 

1. Despite the herculean work that people like Liviu Bird, Joe Prince-Wright and Richard Farley are doing at covering the Premier League, the articles are buried on the site. These are feature length articles that should be featured and highlighted across NBC’s properties, as well as made easier to find on the homepage of the soccer site. NBC’s PR teams should be making sure that other media are aware of them.

2. Not only are the gems of articles “hidden” on Pro Soccer Talk, but the format of the website doesn’t bring out the best in the articles. The narrow column width and lack of large images and wide-enough video squashes these brilliant works into “a box,” and not giving them the TLC they deserve.

3. The integration of video into the site is clunky. Pro Soccer Talk offers video highlights of key goals or incidents in games, but the site really needs its own soccer video section that makes it easier for users to browse through the video content on offer. NBCSports.com has a section, but you have to wade through the other sports to find the soccer videos you’re looking for. Perhaps a soccer video section already exists on Pro Soccer Talk? If it does, it’s not easy to find. The site (and video platform) needs a complete overhaul and redesign to make it more user-friendly and modern.

4. The high quality standards and A-rated production that NBC gives to its TV production of Premier League matches is not carried over to its soccer website. NBC’s Pro Soccer Talk has the potential to be a more comprehensive site that features content of higher quality, as well as a mix of different media formats — not just the written word. Pro Soccer Talk is scratching the surface, but it has a long way to go before its a daily must-visit for soccer fans.

Rating: C

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Overall

nbc epl commitment Rating NBC Sports Coverage of the Premier League On US TV and Internet

NBC faced a mammoth task in getting the network ready for its launch of the Premier League. Some of the issues NBC faced were the nature of the TV industry in the United States where regional cable channels and satellite companies make it difficult to get new channels on the air (as well as authenticated login to NBC Sports Live Extra). For the most part, NBC came through in the end. However, the journey to get there was a pretty stressful time for some soccer fans, and it meant many of them had to change providers to get the soccer games they wanted.

Overall, NBC Sports has done a marvelous job of bringing the Premier League into the homes of millions of Americans. From a TV perspective, the sports network is hitting the ball out of the park, with only a few improvements needed here and there. Most disappointing of all, however, has been the online experience, particularly when trying to watch games on-demand. I understand that NBC’s hands are tied in certain circumstances by what they can do in accordance to Premier League rules (in terms of the amount of on-demand games they can show, and for how long). But if NBC Sports can remedy the issues outlined above, that’ll go a long way to improving the overall viewing experience.

NBC has worked very hard to get where they are now with its Premier League coverage. The network needs to continue to work diligently to push on through to raising the bar to the next level.

This entry was posted in Leagues: EPL, NBC. Bookmark the permalink.

About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
View all posts by Christopher Harris →

45 Responses to Rating NBC Sports’ Coverage of the Premier League On US TV and Internet

  1. Matt says:

    A couple things:

    1. Bang on critique of their streaming product. It has been a disaster. Still better than Fox Soccer’s though.
    2. Bower and Dixon last week were brilliant. Probably the best commentary I have experienced.

  2. Dominjon says:

    I don’t get the overflow channels and am therefore reliant on the streaming. That is the one are that needs to be seriously addressed.
    It needs to be easy to locate games after they have aired live, it needs to be easy to get to the game you want without risk of seeing the final score and the games have to be of a watchable non buffering constantly quality.
    It also needs to be available across all platforms.
    If they can’t do that have a plan to be able to do it, even if it is for next year. If need be offer it as a paid perk, or that on demand games have additional ads at start and during ht to help pay for any investments behind the scenes.
    That said, the actual TV presentations is spectacular, and NBC needs to know how much we appreciate it.

  3. Tony Butterworth says:

    Wow, I think Live Extra is absolutely fantastic. I think you have a negative opinion of it and failed to point out many of it’s positives.

    The thing I like most is how, when watching (or listening) live you can hit the quick rewind button to see something you missed, or click on the action buttons to switch right back to those action moments.

    I have had ZERO problems with the website or app and I’m blown away by how good it is. You seem most worried about on-demand but really that’s a feature I have little interest in. It also seems slightly odd to give such a low rating based on features that were not even available (at least for free) with Fox.

    I’m sure there are problems but to list only one positive ????

    • Christopher Harris says:

      Good point Tony. I too love the functionality of the online app, especially the different controls and being able to skip to the goals. For the live experience, it’s brilliant. I’ll update the article to reflect that.

    • Dominjon says:

      But you are missing the point a little. Some people may be unable to watch live, so they want to be able to watch later, games on TV can be recorded, but games that weren’t can only be accessed on demand via the streaming app, and if that doesn’t work then you are out of luck.

  4. KapUSMC says:

    NBC has been far better then I expected. Echo the above comment about the online. They even commented on Men In Blazers how access in the US to premier league matches is better in the US then it it is in the UK now. But for a first year NBC has been very good. An even better, it has made Fox step up its game on the Champions League, which I seriously doubt would have happened had NBC screwed this up.

  5. Cantona says:

    NBC has done a fantastic job with the Premier League, but I agree there are some opportunities

    Ticker- take it away.. This is not a positive, to be fair I saw it on a broadcast in South Africa so it seems it may be part of the TWI broadcast

    Tim Howard- fantastic keeper, not a talker.. This was a very awkward game for Arlo.. For me there was no insight… NBC please stay away from these “experiments”

    Martino- still not feeling it from him, I agree he is much better than when he was on Fox, but no Premier league connection make his punditry feel less than genuine

    Arlo- while I like Arlo, I think his voice is more suited to a Cricket broadcast..that said he doesn’t detract from the broadcast and I don’t mind him.. He is very knowledgeable… But I prefer Steve Bower

    Steve Bower-Wow… This guy just jumped into my top five footy broadcasters..great coup for NBC , should be NBC’s numer one

    Premier League Review Show- I agree I miss this, I like MOTD but after a long day I’m not sure if I can watch two more hours of footy..the review show was concise and a great recap… Again nothing against MOTD.

    Overall NBC has done excellent in treating the sport with respect and it serious approach for the fans as opposed to the slap and tickle show on Fox. I would give them an “A”

    Cantona—

  6. Brian says:

    Christopher – 100% spot on!!! Well worth the read…really enjoyed your analysis!

  7. Rick says:

    I give NBC an A+.
    EPL coverage in America has come a long way in a short time period. What is needed is a daily highlight show and more promotion on the NBC network.

  8. Saints Fan says:

    NBC get an A from me. Every game available live on TV in HD cannot be beaten. Superb!

    It would be an A+ but often they cut off the surround sound when they go to the actual game. ie the room is full of the sound of the crowd when Rebecca etc are building the game up. They then hand it over to ‘x&y’ for the commentary and the surround sound dies. Little or nothing coming out of the side and rear speakers where just now there was…

    A small complaint. NBC are doing the biz. Come on you Saints!

  9. EPLNFL says:

    Another well written piece. WST has a A list group of writers which separates this site from the crowd.

    WST has an A list of writers and NBC gets the same grade for it’s broadcasts. Yes there are problems with the app and the on-demand service is not all it’s supposed to be ( sort of like the Obamacare website) but this is light years ahead of what those of us who started on this site many years ago even dreamed possible. No one could have imagined either the quality or quantity of the coverage given by NBC. (Sexist male comment ahead) It’s like marrying a super model who is a fabulous cook! Even Kyle Martino has become a star.

    I find myself so wrapped up by the NBC coverage that I miss all the UK outlets that I used to seek out for coverage. Little reason to search for MOTD or TalkSport, etc. Sort of miss the local flavor but having the game on your ipad while trying to get dressed for the day on a Saturday is very nice.

    Yes there are legitimate “tweeks” that NBC can make. I would like more visuals of the NBC announcing team on site and the on-demand and app issues are an irritation but its all been just great.

  10. dust says:

    The coverage has been great…to a point, this article has made some fair observations, it IS a definite improvement on what was provided by fox.

    I look forward to more in-depth offerings and upgraded analysis and analysis software as I’ve stated on here before…the frustration i have is with Comcast’s implementation of this product.

    It’s comical…

    The games on the app and online are delayed by 2-3 mins, but the lack of the specified extra time channel with the multiple games is a big miss.

    The extra time games are offered via “Live On Demand” but are delayed 14 minutes…which is ridiculous.

    While there are multiple offerings at once, if you dare want to quickly switch to check in on another game during an injury or HT finishing before another, you have to FFWD through the entire game to reach the “live” point, then, when you go back to the previous game, you have to FFWD again through that to get to the “Live” action that is still delayed by 14 minutes so its not even live!

    This seems to be a completely unnecessary situation, why isn’t the extra time channel offered by Comcast of its own sports channels.

    Why the insane delay using the live on demand channels?
    why is there a 2-3 minute delay on the online version too?

    ESPN offer “live” with a max of 20-30 second delay in my experience.

    I have Comcast internet and get blazing 50Mbps speeds, its not the network, it’s someones poor decision on the back end.

    Please fix it… whats the big issue with not providing live access thorough live on demand events? PPV boxing is fine whats up with that?

    Those issues aside, NBC sports its self is doing a great job, I like Mustoe and Earle, they are too nice sometimes, perhaps they are fearful of social media wrath, or perhaps they are just really nice guys?

    Rebecca does a fantastic job, and given her documented love of football and Crystal Palace, how she keeps so professional when discussing Palace is impressive. They are woeful.

    Lineker’s comments are good but not long enough, imo.

    Martino is doing a good job, he has improved greatly.

    As a reminder of how much better NBC is…

    I watched the Fox European coverage…holly smokes…all BPL fans should be given a pat on the back for sitting through that every week … wow … NBC made the right move using the commentators they did, Dixon is not as bad anymore, he’s gotten much better, inspire of him being a goon.

    Arlo is doing a great job, hat’s off to the guy, he too is getting better every week … keep it up.

    The MOTD could use fixing tho, each game should have analysis, pivotal points in each game, and to that point, better selection of highlights and pattern of play mapping when creating the highlights. I’ve found the MOTD highlights paint a different version of events in games and one that misses key points. I know its all a quick turn around for MOTD and MOTD2.

    Football is all about opinions and the person cutting each game to “tell its story” for MOTD is telling it as they see it in the time allowed, i get that, I just feel some of the misses are unnecessary and it could be better imo.

    As an exercise in what I mean, when watching a game write down what you think key aspects are in that game that tell the story as you go through, then compare to what MOTD highlights show.

    It’s not meant as an attack, I just feel these could be fuller still.

    The last thing I would like to see is better coverage in the week, the offerings on friday night are weak, and the stories of the week are missed, please produce a better preview the schedule and content…remove the hunting shows too..

  11. Castle Rock Brit says:

    Live streaming started off well but over the past few weeks buffering times are getting longer and picture quality has been poor.

    On TV the coverage overall has been good with a HUGE improvement over Fox. After watching the EL on Fox on Thursday it made me realise just how poor Fox coverage actually is!

  12. NBC coverage is excellent. However, I have one complaint concerning replays. When I check those games on the program guide of my provider (DirecTV), the teams playing in each of those replays are omitted. Is it just DirecTV or are they missing with the the other providers?

  13. Keane16 says:

    Overall enjoying NBC coverage, few moans though:
    - MOTD started in a regular 11pm slot, but now is all over the place with stuff like NASCAR over-running
    - It’s a shame there is no round-up show at nights (like Fox soccer Report only good)
    - No Live Extra access for me so I can’t watch Monday games at work (I guess that’s TWC’s fault)

  14. goatslookshifty says:

    I remember watching a match beginning of the season where MICHAEL OWEN was one of the commentators. He did a great job and there was something refreshing about hearing a recently retired player give his modern game insight. Any opportunity NBC have to utilize him, they should.
    Current players commentating, a la Tim Howard, is a bad idea. I got the feeling he was reluctant to criticize honestly and didn’t want to offend anyone.
    Would still love to see Bobby McMahon on the screen again. Are NBC worried about his Scottish accent?

    • Christopher Harris says:

      That was an Arsenal game on a Saturday morning where NBC decided to use the BT Sport feed instead of the TWI/IMG one presumably because Stewart Robson was the co-commentator for TWI/IMG.

      I’d love to see Bobby back on television in the States, too. I have no problems with his accent at all.

  15. sucka99 says:

    I’m on a Nexus 7 and after the first update to the streaming app I’ve been solid ever since. No FCs. BUT the stream is 3 minutes behind actual time and even behind the illegal streams. That’s a problem.

    Also no overflow channels on DirecTV SD and not enough midweek shoulder programming to my liking. Its like they’ve ceded midweek to ESPN and Fox

  16. Jeff says:

    Great read Christopher, agree with most of the points and ratings you gave to each element of NBC’s coverage. If you were to sum up NBC’s coverage overall, it’s currently at an high-quality level and extremely surpassing the quality FOX provided for viewers. Although like anything in life, there’s room for tweaking and improvements to raise the bar higher.

    A few pointers from some of the things raised:
    1) Recently, the Live Extra website has added a section (http://stream.nbcsports.com/liveextra/#replays) where all replays of sports events that NBC/NBCSN can provide are available for easy access. Currently there isn’t any EPL games because I think they expire after a few days, but that should help make it easier to find games on-demand. Not sure whether the same feature is available on the apps?
    2) Another recent change is that the Premier League Review Show seems to be scheduled regularly at 10:30pm ET on a Monday night (providing NHL doesn’t go overtime). Not sure whether it’s the Sunday or Monday edition and there might still be criticism of the show not airing on Sunday, but at least it’s better than being during the middle of the night!
    3) About the pre-roll ads when switching games, have you tried using an ad-blocker on the website Christopher? Something like Adblock Plus (https://adblockplus.org/en/) which has worked for me on the NBC Sports websites or similar ad-ons might be able to block those ads and make your overall surfing experience much better!

    • Christopher Harris says:

      Thanks Jeff for the excellent feedback and helpful information. I appreciate it.

      As an aside, I don’t like adblock, sorry. I believe that publishers should be paid for their work, and Adblock breaks that system. If everyone used adblock on World Soccer Talk, we’d be out of business. So, I refuse to use it.

  17. Mark Williamson says:

    Steve Bower needs to stay. I enjoy listening to him as much as I enjoy Martin Tyler and Ian Darke.

  18. Smokey Bacon says:

    Rebecca Lowe is smokin’ and the other lot are not bad either. Even Kyle Martino has not got on my nerves as much as I thought he would.

    It’s been excellent so far. Well done NBC.

  19. Derek says:

    Very comprehensive insight. I agree with your analysis, but would like to address two points:

    1. The analysts using monitors – this is something that ESPN uses on a regular basis for their in-studio shows. Haven’t really heard much complaint about it before, but you bring up an interesting angle.

    2. Why are you still on a 3G network?

    3. The Android app has improved greatly. I was out of town for opening weekend, and the app was horrendous. I’m at the point now where I can have a game on tv, on the computer, and on the phone. I just wish there was an NBC Live Extra app for the Kindle, so that I could go completely off the deep end for the sensory overload. And on that note…….

    4. I wish the Extra Time channels had a Game Mix option like there is for the NFL Sunday Ticket. The preview screengrab that was used when Extra Time was announced gave that impression – in fact, you’ve used the same picture for this article. Is it a feature available for carriers other than DirecTV? It’s not available on that carrier.

  20. Derek says:

    Meant to add one more thought – as one who lived here in the dark ages when Premiership coverage was nonexistent and then developed into a late-night roundup show in the wee hours on the regional sports network and maybe one live game per month on ESPN2, it’s been a thrill to see the level of coverage now.

    As this article indicates, though – that’s no reason for NBC or anyone else aiming to provide comprehensive footy coverage to rely on a status quo. Any and every effort to provide more and to provide an improved product can only be a good thing for Stateside fans.

  21. Blue Moon says:

    My only negative is Arlo White, needs to dial it down a bit, seems to be trying too hard to educate new football viewers.

    Wish Dish Network would come to the party with the overflow games.

  22. Marc L says:

    Pros: Rebecca is pretty smoking + isn’t one of the three Fox buffoons.

    Cons: sometimes the web service does not consistently have the match replay up and easily findable (without spoiling the score for you along the way.)

    Sometimes it seems like the match replay isn’t up at all a day later. Even though supposedly the intention is to have all of them.

  23. Kobashi says:

    Good stuff Christopher!

    I’d like to see NBC on occasion fly over a former player to sit in on the pregame, half time, and postgame shows. It doesn’t have to be every weekend but every couple of weeks a fresh voice being thrown in the mix would be a good thing.

    I understand that NBCSN needs to make money but it wouldn’t kill them to put reairs of games in the overnight hours or the game of the week that they let fans call the game like FOX used to air instead of paid programming.

    I wish there was more historical programming that NBC could tap up from the IMG/PLP vault. I miss the 1/2 hour classic games that we used to see on FOX from time to time. IMG/PLP produces programs that NBCSN doesn’t pick up that I’d like to see on our shores. Why doesn’t NBC make a deal with the Premier League for their 24/7 TV network and use one of the Live Extra channels to broadcast it for all the other hours in a week outside of the 2 hours that is needed for a game on Saturday Mornings? Those channels are dormant for all but 2 hours a week. Why not use 1 of them as the Premier League TV Network? It makes sense to me!

    And count me in as missing the old hour long Premier League Review Show on Sunday Nights.

  24. dstorm says:

    I agree with many of the points, however, the D+ on Live Extra seems REALLY harsh.

    Maybe that’s an understandable grade solely in regards to On-Demand content – but if that’s your primary purpose for access Live Extra you have to be in the minority.

    I would guess most people out there use Live Extra to watch games live.

    My experience has been the opposite. I watch on IOS platform – the quality has been fantastic – buffering minimal – it is FREE – for me it works equally well using wireless and I’ve used a 3G connection traveling in a car without issue.

    I can’t think of any other major league sport out there where you can access the quality and see EVERY game for free – MLB is the highest quality out there but even there you’re paying an extra 20 per month.

    One other point – I thought I would miss the Sunday night review show more than I actually have. The Match of the Day show fills in nicely – but I will say I often just watch the condensed 1-hour version the next morning – or just fast forward through the recorded 2-hour version.

    Overall NBC deserves a solid A for their coverage – fantastic all around – loving it.

    • Christopher Harris says:

      I agree that NBC deserves an A for their entire coverage, but the D+ rating is fair in my opinion based on:

      * No on-demand functionality for tablets or smartphones,
      * Buffering and poor quality of streams for on-demand games online,
      * Not all of the games are available on-demand via app via web, and
      * Quality of streaming for live games via app could be much better.

      Yes, it’s free and it’s decent for the live experience, but it’s disappointing if you’re trying to watch on demand.

  25. TomF says:

    The on demand is hit or miss. Where are todays games? 11/9.

  26. TheTalleyrand says:

    I do have to say that a D might be a little gracious to the online viewing. For those of us who had used Fox’s online site to view matches on demand, this season has been a huge downer. The problems I have are:

    1) Not all matches are put on demand and no reasons are given to those of us who use a computer to watch matches when we are away. (I don’t mind waiting a day for replays to be put up). It wouldn’t be so bad if someone who tell us, “Sorry, but we will be able to have all matches replays on demand each week starting by (this date).

    2) Some of the match links taking us to highlights of goals scored which gives away the match. Which leads me to…

    3) The scores are posted all over the place on the live extra site, even when clicking on a replay. I can’t speak for everyone, but most football supporters that I know watch multiple matches and don’t like them to be ruined.

    For television the viewing has been good. More matches, but the cutting to the end of another match, thus revealing the score, is frustrating. The ticker on the top of the screen during tv matches, which gives away scores, is also a terrible idea in my opinion.

    It’s a mystery to me why NBC spent so much to get the rights, then didn’t have the online portion ready to go after a decent amount of time to prepare. I would gladly welcome back fox now if I had the choice. Hopefully you guys can change my mind.

    • Stephen says:

      I agree with the comments on the VOD streaming. I will watch a game live on my computer/ipad if I am available to do so, but with kids I prefer the ability to be flexible and watch the first half alter in the day, and then if needed continue to watch the rest of the match in the evening.

      For example, I follow Liverpool and was traveling over the holidays. I was unable to watch the games live and thought, “I’ll just watch them OnDemand later today”. Unfortunately, to my surprise, 3 out of the 4 matches were never shown OnDemand. I have been unable to watch my team now OnDemand for the last 5 or 6 matches.

      Even if they can’t show all games OnDemand, it would be nice to see a schedule of which games will go up OnDemand and which won’t. Then I could make the effort to watch it live.

  27. Yespage says:

    Just tried to get through the Stoke v Swansea game via on Demand on the PC. And it would buffer in the second half nearly every other minute. It’d go from 300k to 3.5M then back to 300k… then work to 1.5M then back to 300k, with all the buffer pausing. I have a 12ish Mbps connection. It is intolerable. This is starting to be like FoxSoccer2Go, just without the time warps.

    Agreed on the score spoilers. Bad enough they blare the scores on the live feeds. Lost the ability to watch the Liverpool game unspoiled with a “Suarez leads Liver…” headline on the website. I’m pondering dropping away from the 250 with Dish because if I can’t watch the games that aren’t shown on NBC or NBC Sports, then what is the point?

  28. Matt K says:

    What is the background music used? You mentioned it in Production and Presentation, pro #2. I love the soundtrack but can’t find it anywhere. They play it after the game with someone talking over it, do you know what that music playing is called?

  29. Ian says:

    Arlo, please comment on the game. The commentary on everything else is distracting and very annoying. It is not cricket nor is it American Football. The game itself (all of it) is of interest and exciting. Perhaps if you have nothing about the game to comment on, then don’t say anything.

  30. Prasad Iyer says:

    I love everything about NBC’s EPL telecasts except for a small complaint about the quality of the HD picture. In distant shots the players seem a little blurred. Contrast this with their excellent Sunday night football HD picture! Difference of night and day.

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