In the UK, the World Cup matches are shared between two television stations: BBC and ITV. So as you might expect, comparisons between the duo are rife, as each channel strives to provide the best World Cup package for terrestrial viewers.
Both broadcasters have extremely impressive studios on the Copacabana beach. Both have a stellar list of pundits who are decorated with a plethora of club and international honors. Both are doing their utmost to provide the most rounded, immersive World Cup coverage possible. But which of the two is doing the best at this early stage of the tournament?
ITV had the privilege of broadcasting the curtain raiser between Croatia and Brazil, but immediately there was an eyesore on screen. The display that informs viewers of the score and time in the match is not something that you would typically notice. But ITV had decided to make this standout; it was enormous — covering about an eighth of the screen— staggeringly garish and downright unnecessary.
Adrian Chiles anchors the ITV coverage, and his abilities as a host have constantly come under scrutiny via various social media platforms. He has a very irritating patent for interrupting the pundits in the studio mid-discussion, either intentionally or unintentionally shifting a lot focus onto himself. His rant over Thomas Muller’s playacting in Germany’s game against Portugal was especially grinding, leaving guest pundits Patrick Vieira and Fabio Cannavaro a little aghast and Lee Dixon doing his utmost to put Chiles’ inane rambling into more coherent terms.
By comparison, Gary Lineker continues to be a serenely slick presenter for the BBC. He is amicable, appropriate and unwaveringly professional in his duties, and when the situation demands — as a former World Cup Golden Boot winner — he can also provide an insightful opinion. The only minor criticism of the former England man is that he should probably lend his opinion to proceedings a little more readily.
The pundits at the BBC have also been a lot more tuned in, with the typically eloquent Thierry Henry impressing with his astute observations about the matches and Alan Shearer showing a marked improvement in his analytical skills as of late.
But it’s not all been plain sailing for the BBC, with a host of their co-commentators coming in for some pretty severe stick (as well as commentator Jonathan Pearce for his comments about goal line technology). The most notable of which has been directed in the direction of former England international Phil Neville, who made his co-commentary debut during the England vs. Italy game.
The BBC received official complaints about Neville’s efforts, with viewers branding him boring and muffled throughout the game. It prompted Neville to admit in the aftermath that the co-commentary gig is a little harder than he first expected.
Obviously taking on board the criticism that was beset on his colleague, Robbie Savage was at the complete other end of the spectrum when he called the United States vs. Ghana match. The Welshman was abrasive, extremely critical and blatantly forced in his excitable rants. How about some middle-ground, lads?