WED, 2:45PM ET
LIV
REAL
WED, 2:45PM ET
AND
ARS
WED, 2:45PM ET
OLY
JUV
WED, 2:45PM ET
GAL
BVB
WED, 2:45PM ET
ATL
MAL
WED, 2:45PM ET
LEV
ZEN

FOX Sports Delivers Cheap Tricks In Its Coverage of Liverpool-Manchester City Game

fox sports soccer advertising FOX Sports Delivers Cheap Tricks In Its Coverage of Liverpool Manchester City Game

FOX Sports has been using the International Champions Cup as a testing ground for a whole host of changes in its soccer coverage during the past week. Most of them, so far, have been poor. But tonight’s coverage of the Liverpool-Manchester City game featured several cheap tricks that — yet again — give soccer viewers more evidence that FOX Sports (1) doesn’t know how to cover the sport properly and (2) doesn’t care what the viewer wants.

Here are the cheap tricks FOX Sports used in the Liverpool-Manchester City game televised on FOX Sports 1:

1. In-game advertising

It’s bad enough that FOX decides to run its abnormally large and obnoxious ticker throughout games, but now FOX Sports has begun including in-game advertising (see above photo).  During the game, FOX shrunk the game picture, and then ran a large advertisement on the right side and underneath the game picture. This happened several times during the Liverpool-Manchester City game, shown live from Yankee Stadium.

Is this what we can expect to see from FOX Sports during its future soccer coverage? If so, it’s a dumb move by the network. It’s distracting, and takes the viewer away from the game.

2. In-game interviews

Midway through the second half of the Liverpool-Manchester City match, with the action unfolding on the field, commentators John Strong and Warren Barton interrupted the broadcast to interview New York City FC manager Jason Kreis. So what did Kreis have to do with the International Champions Cup, Liverpool or Manchester City? Absolutely nothing. Instead Strong and Barton pinged Kreis with questions about New York City FC, how great the pitch looked and what the atmosphere was like.

I completely understand that Kreis will be the coach of the NYCFC team that begins play next year in Yankee Stadium, and that Manchester City is a part owner in the club, but the in-game interview with Kreis was distracting and — again — took the viewer away from the game.

3. Google Glasses

During a very brief stoppage in the game to allow Manchester City to field two substitutes, the camera zoomed in on FOX Sports reporter Keith Costigan. While I’m not a fan of having a sideline reporter since the position rarely adds any valuable insight, it didn’t appear too unusual to go Costigan for a quick update from the touchline. However, FOX decided to have him wear a pair of Google Glasses, and then showed grainy footage of what Costigan was seeing — which was the backside of the two Manchester City subs.

The move added zero value, and came off as a cheap trick that was completely unnecessary.

Costigan mentioned that City is planning on using Google Glasses in upcoming games, but while that may be true, the decision to show him wearing the glasses and to show footage of what he saw was another example of amateur hour at its finest.

4. Guilt by association

John Strong is one of the rising stars as a US soccer commentator. However, by associating himself with FOX Sports, he doesn’t sound as polished as he does when he’s on NBC Sports. Strong made an embarrassing flub near the end of the game where his goal call for the Raheem Sterling goal had him saying “Daniel Sterling,” but he quickly corrected himself, and moved on. Mistakes happen. But when he has to be the one to interview soccer coaches in the middle of a game, it cheapens his reputation and image.

 

On a positive note, FOX’s decision to put Janusz Michallik in the studio is one of the smartest moves FOX Sports has made in several months. He’s knowledgable. He can share observations that help enrich the broadcast instead of saying nothing (like some of his FOX colleageus). Plus his presence keeps Eric Wynalda on his toes.

Meanwhile, the addition of Heather Mitts as a sideline reporter was a good move. Unfortunately, FOX reduced her role in the Manchester City-AC Milan to one of a weather reporter instead of having her concentrate on the game.

 

FOX Sports is a difficult network to predict because they’re too inconsistent and unpredictable in their coverage of soccer. You never know what surprise they’re going to pull out of their bag of tricks, and there’s little confidence that they’ll do it right. Hopefully, tonight’s coverage was an exception to the rule and that they’ll learn from their mistakes. But for a network that has no clear vision or identity regarding its soccer coverage, it just keeps on getting worse and worse. One step forward, four steps back.

Update: Several World Soccer Talk readers also noted that during the live coverage of Real Madrid against AS Roma last night on FOX Sports 2, FOX decided to break away for a commercial during the game itself. If true, this is another giant step backwards in the quality of soccer coverage on US television. This is the same network that has MLS and World Cup rights for 2015-2022, Bundesliga for 2015-2020 and UEFA Champions League through 2015.

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 →

35 Responses to FOX Sports Delivers Cheap Tricks In Its Coverage of Liverpool-Manchester City Game

  1. Mysterious J says:

    Even getting away from Fox, the whole concept of marketing pre-season friendlies as “International Champions Cup” is a cheap trick in my book.

  2. Juan Arango says:

    Fox’s in game ads are across Fox itself. Those types of graphics are shown in the other regions as well.

  3. KTA says:

    The Fox Sports coverage is probably good, even great, if you’ve just become a soccer fan within the last two months. FS has effectively Americanized the soccer-viewing experience, incorporating a lot of cues and visuals from MLB, NBA, and NFL games — points 1 and 2 are big examples of this.

    On the other hand, all this is still nothing short of a V-sign to the long-time followers of the game.

  4. Brianb says:

    Gaffer, how come Fox are not using Gus?
    Is he gone or is he studying football commentary in North Korea?

  5. Jeremy says:

    I am sure the interview was done for a few reason. Fox owns most of YES Network. NYCFC is getting ready to announce a TV deal any day.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/video/meet-the-business-chief-behind-nyc-football-club-F9ZhOglXSFu9C5k2W~_0rw.html

  6. David B.N. says:

    John Strong sure didn’t seem like a rising star tonight, but his side kick was far worse. The 2 best teams from last years EPL campaign went head to head…but someone forgot to tell both commentators. Apparently Man City were turning the screws on a sorry Liverpool side, and LFC were 1 dimensional. What a complete joke. Next game I plan on turning off the volume while my son makes armpit farts for 90 minutes in order to get some audible entertainment.

  7. Smokey Bacon says:

    I really think Fox is now just doing sh*t to p*ss us off. That they prioritize gimmicks over producing a quality product says it all. Fox Sports 1 is a poor mans ESPN.

  8. Cou says:

    NBC has proven over the last year that they are eons ahead of Faux when it comes to covering football. There’s just no comparison. Fox is awful-including their web presence-which is absolutely amateur and very poor quality-and it costs extra! NBC has fantastic and free coverage online and their TV product is outstanding.

  9. Faithless says:

    I’ve said repeatedly John Strong is not the American commentators messiah.. He is really bad in Europa league games and the reason I can’t watch those anymore

    Fox is pulling gmics out of their ass.. The 3/4 advertising hasn’t been seen since the late 80′s.. So this tells you Fox execs are idiots.

  10. Squid says:

    This was normal when I was in Italy watching Serie A matches. They even took commercials in that 5 seconds before goal kicks!!

  11. SF says:

    I’d rather follow my twitter timeline about a match than watch Fox. Total train wreck.

  12. pak says:

    have no problem with the ad graphics, got to pay for the games somehow. do agree that cutting away from the game is problematic

    • Rick says:

      Agree. I can live with the in-game advertisement. It not as distracting as it is being made out to be and when it did pop up the first time I noticed it was on a goal kick. As long as the production crew pay attention to in-game activity, placing the ads should not be a problem. And come to think about it, this has been done by ABC/ESPN in the past to no complaints.

    • Cantona says:

      The Fox intern PR machine returns

      You have no problem watching a 3/4 full screen add!! You haven’t watched a football match in over 20 years then. This was done with a Budweiser sponsorship in the early days of the World Cup being shown on US tv.. But it was quickly stopped because it obviously detracted from the viewing experience. What does paying attention to in game activity mean?? Fox is trying to squeeze more money out of these football matches going to tactics that drove away viewers in the 80′s… Fox really seems not to give monkeys about any current fa base the sport has and is hoping he NFL and NASCAR fans start watching.

      Note to Fox: they won’t!!

      Cantona—-

  13. eplnfl says:

    The in game interview during a friendly does not bother me. It is often done during NFL pre-season games. Now NFL pre-season games are silly at best for the viewer but how serious is a ICC match? Does it mater if we miss a few moments in a matchthat has no relevance at all.

    Also a sideline reporter is a staple of American sports broadcasts. So why should soccer be different.

    • Tim says:

      None of this bothers me. But shockingly people want to complain just to complain. Its not a proper “football match” lol

    • Jake says:

      You know why it doesn’t matter in any of our other sports is because there are commercial breaks, time outs, injury time outs, replay, etc. In the NFL, NBA, and MLB all the time.
      The game stops every 2-3 minutes.
      In Football there are 2 consecutive 45 minute halves with the only stoppages inplay coming from the ball going out of play so your argument has no credence.
      What does the EPL have to do with the NFL???
      One is the biggest league of the biggest sport played in the world and the other of a bastardized version of Rugby with pads.
      A sideline reporter for a pre season game is completely unnecessary.
      If Fox are so poor and needy to save money then they can fire Keith costigan and use his salary and his cameraman’s salary towards keeping the game ad free.

      • EPLNFL says:

        Jake:

        The NFL and the EPL are the two most popular leagues world wide in many opinions. In the US the NFL is the league that has set the standards for sports on TV. The success of the NFL was used as a guide in the formation of the UEFA Champions League.

        The EPL dominates sports TV in many parts of the world. Increasingly you see NFL owners as EPL owners or other American owners who use the NFL model.

        As soccer becomes mainstream for American TV audiences the US networks will use what they have learned from the wildly popular NFL broadcasts to make soccer a bit on tv. EPL audiences wanting more money for the American TV networks will do the same. Hence the importance.

        • Jake says:

          I’ve watched world cup games on ESPN, ABC, ESPN2, etc. and not once did they cut off a game for a commercial, enlarge an add on screen etc.
          That’s unnecessary and we’ve gone past the growing stage of the game here on US tv.
          What your saying is that these guys are foreign to the game hence the shitty presentation and I’m not buying it at all. They are incompetent jackasses and if you don’t have a problem with an add running during the game, or an interview with a manager that has nothing to do with the game on hand that’s your business but 99% of us want a respectable product.
          Fox aren’t trying to improve but are penny penching cheapskates.

  14. Martin J. says:

    1. In-game advertising does not work in soccer where the action is continuous. Trying to Americanize the viewing experience is dumb.

    2. In-game interviews also don’t work for the same reason as 1 above. Another very dumb idea.

    3. Google glasses may yet have some value but not at the moment with the way Fox used it yesterday.

    4. Stone is better than what he showed yesterday but it didn’t help having Barton as his side kick. Is Barton really English? His grammar is awful. Debunks the myth that the English speak the language well.

    • goatslookshifty says:

      What does a sideline reporter wearing grainy google glasses offer more that a mobile sideline cameraman with a HD camera? Nothing. Maybe if Costigan gave us a good shot Julie Stewart-Binks bum, I might change my mind.

  15. goatslookshifty says:

    The ‘complainers’ are trying to stop a slippery slope in term of television coverage. If FOX execs think we accept the 3/4 ad screen, they do it more often. Same thing with redundant sideline interviews, obnoxious sound effects and oversized graphics on the screen. We complain because in a few years time, the ultimate sin will occur; commercial interruptions during the game.

  16. Gringo says:

    FOX are total amateurs

    Any game that I want to watch in the future that FOX is showing, I will find an alternative way to watch it.

    FOX is not a part of my viewing future, as long as they continue doing what they do.

  17. rkujay says:

    The first time they did a 3/4 screen it was on a goal kick. I guess I could swallow that.

    However…

    Sideline reporters…in match interviews…Fox just can’t give up on throwball, racin’ and rasslin’. Walk away from the beautiful game. Please, fox. Leave us alone.

  18. Ziggy says:

    Networks use these tactics for baseball, football, hockey etc. Soccer does not have breakages like these sports do. It all comes down to advertising dollars. What did you expect to happen though when the advertising on a kit is bigger than the club crest over the heart?

  19. stephen david says:

    did anyone else watch the game on the repeat a couple of hours later? Fox had their regular bottom crawl ticker running; 5 minutes into the game, we saw the result; thanks guys, I think I’ll turn off the TV now. Well, I didn’t, but then to make room for the PK shootout, they “had to” cut 5 minutes from the in-game coverage. What was lost? City’s 2nd goal. Thanks again guys

  20. Scott says:

    It really sucks that Fox has the contract with UEFA for the Champions League and that they have stupid Gus Johnson doing the big CL games….he is the worst soccer commentator in history…stick to American Football and Basketball.

  21. Denise Vail says:

    I’m surprised to read the gibberish here. Other soccer coverage by foreign media outlets due this type of advertising. If you watch any of Liga MX you’ll see how soccer advertising can work. US media outlets should monetize soccer and besides College Football does this type of advertising during their games.

  22. supertrev says:

    There was a Cheap Trick concert during the game? Guess I missed that:)

  23. Chris says:

    Fox is second rate and I am fearful of the coverage of the next World Cup. I also hope they don’t get the rights to the EPL after next season.

  24. David says:

    Where is Gus? We should be told.

    His inclusion would definitely guarantee that Fox’s coverage is the worst possible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>