Turner Sports’ coverage of the UEFA Champions League and Europa League won’t launch until August 2018, so the sports network has plenty of time to execute its plan to bring the world’s number one soccer club competition into the homes of viewers across the United States.
While FOX Sports certainly improved the quantity of UEFA Champions League coverage in the United States by making every game available between TV and streaming, Turner Sports now has the opportunity to raise the bar on the quality.
While we don’t know yet what Turner Sports’ vision is for how they’ll cover the Champions League and Europa League from the 2018/19 to 2020/21 seasons, they still have plenty of time to start drafting a short list of talent to interview and hire as soccer experts for their TV coverage.
If Turner Sports plays their cards right, the timing of Turner’s launch of the Champions League in August 2018 couldn’t be better… just weeks after the 2018 FIFA World Cup ends. Turner has the opportunity to ride the wave of increased soccer interest thanks to the World Cup and start weaving the storylines about many of those major World Cup stars playing in the UEFA Champions League.
Based on our extensive experience of watching soccer as well as understanding the interests of soccer fans in the United States, here are our suggestions on who Turner Sports should consider.
Two caveats before I dive into the list below. One, rather than suggesting an all-star list of all of the best hosts, presenters and commentators from around the world, most of whom would not be available, I’ve assembled a list of talent that could be more readily available and also a better fit for the US network. Two, the talent names suggested below are based on their level of expertise. Their accent has no bearing on my recommendations. The list compiles, in my opinion, the best talent that’s most likely to be available.
The person to lead Turner’s UEFA Champions League coverage will be the face of the soccer coverage. It’s incredibly vital that Turner Sports hires someone who is not only well versed in the sport, but has the charisma to hold the viewer’s attention as well as the intelligence to ask the studio analysts those tough questions. That person I suggest is John Dykes.
For viewers in the United States, many soccer fans will know him as the voice behind the successful Goal Rush program on the NBC Sports App. Plus, his career has provided him outstanding experience at Premier League Productions, ESPN Star Sport and Super Sport. Wherever he’s been in Asia or Africa, he’s been a big hit. From personal experience while traveling abroad, I’ve been very impressed by the way he carries himself on the Premier League Matchday Live broadcasts on weekends. For example, here’s one clip of his work:
At the same time, hosting both the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League can be a taxing job especially when there are concurrent games happening. To alleviate the load slightly and to have someone available as a back-up when needed, I would suggest that Ian Joy from FOX Sports would be the perfect person to fill the role. On FOX Sports’ Bundesliga coverage, he commanded himself well under the spotlight as the host of the broadcasts. Plus, he’s versatile enough where he can also be used as a studio analyst and co-commentator when needed, too.