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Behind-The-Scenes at GolTV And American Soccer show

Across the street from the GolTV studios on the JF Kennedy Causeway in Miami is the beautiful green water of Biscayne Bay. Stroll down the street and you see the WSVN Channel 7 studios featuring a view of downtown Miami to the left and Miami Beach to the right.

Yet, one block away, the buildings that house GolTV comprise two nondescript structures. One is a free-standing edifice that’s so unassuming from the outside that it’s easy to drive past without noticing. The building’s blue color is warm and soothing, though, and consistent with the look and feel of the network.

The offices of GolTV, meanwhile, are on the fourth floor of a generic office building that’s separated from the studios by a strip plaza. It’s hardly the surroundings that I imagined, but it made me realize how the professionalism and GolTV brand makes the 24 hour soccer network appear much larger than what the buildings portray.

Buildings aside, what matters most about GolTV is the product on the screen and how it’s presented, which I believe is exceptional and continues to improve. More on that later.

Inside the GolTV offices, I was impressed by the TV monitors inside every office and almost every cube on the floor. The day I arrived, everyone was watching the Chelsea against Valencia match from the Champions League. How refreshing it must be to work in a company where watching soccer on TV is encouraged!

After a tour of the GolTV offices and the impressive conference room (see the photo slideshow here of the entire behind-the-scenes tour), we headed over to the GolTV studio. Inside, it was a rudimentary building but filled with a team of hard-working people. After a brief tour, we stepped on to the set and chatted with the team of the “American Soccer” TV show (Phil Schoen, Ray Hudson, Lindsey Dean and Kelly O’Donnell).

As the cameramen made their preparations, the team of “American Soccer” traded notes, jokes and verified pronunciations as well as running through the schedule of the show to ensure that everything was prepared before the cameras started rolling.

We then had the pleasure of sitting in the studio and watching the “American Soccer” TV show unfold. Aired on Wednesday’s at 8pm ET, the show is by far the best original soccer programming in the States packed with 60 minutes of news, highlights, analysis and passion.

Sitting back and watching the show being taped, I could see first-hand the fantastic chemistry and knowledge of the game that Schoen, Hudson, Dean and O’Donnell possess. Each of them are scholars of the game, and are able to communicate that knowledge with confidence, energy and, at times, humor.

Incredibly, the show was taped with only one or two retakes in the entire 60 minutes (one, when O’Donnell forgot to switch on his headset so he could hear the producer). Schoen, who was interviewed recently on the EPL Talk Podcast, demonstrated his experience in broadcasting by taking the lead and maintaining a professional attitude throughout without distancing himself from the viewer.

Between takes, the running joke throughout this episode was the tie selection worn by the hosts. While the team works well together on-screen, their chemistry off-screen is equally as impressive.

Hudson, the master of the English language and passionate man of the beautiful game, was in his element as he added his observations unscripted throughout the show. In addition to Hudson, the whole team on “American Soccer” had the freedom to adlib throughout the show, which made it feel more natural.

During a break in the show, “American Soccer” and GolTV producer Helberth Ariza graciously invited us into the control room to see the other side of the show where Ariza and his team of four people put together all of the elements to make the show a success. As soon as the cameras rolled, Ariza was in complete control directing his team to roll tape on cue and ensuring that the show was perfected.

Without a doubt, the production value on “American Soccer” is superb. The entire team that works together on the show runs a tight ship. While the outside of the studio may appear unassuming, inside it’s a different picture altogether and it’s very apparent that GolTV has a winning formula in place.

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  1. ZTN

    April 18, 2007 at 4:17 pm

    I have to disagree, Gaffer. I watch GolTV because I have to. Not because I want. As an avid soccer fan…of the big 3 of euro soccer in particular, I’m forced to watch the FSC and GolTV. While FSC’s production quality and professionalism of delivery are good enough, I hate that they do not offer American based news shows. Not to sound biased but I hate the Canadian accent. I hate the O’s, the “out’s” and they way Machado says Italy. It’s annoying and I’m sure I’m not alone.

    Now Gol has better programs and at least use Americans (and Hudson) but the use of of native spanish speakers (and the annoying brazilian guy) is inappropriate and in bad taste. In fact their general taste is extremely lacking and very unprofessional.

    Watching the latest addition of CIAO, I was really annoyed by the speakers customary lack of flow in speech with all the “um’s” and hesitations. What made this week worse was the voice in the background that we could all hear. And it sounded like the speaker was using him as a guide!

    I’d expect better from a video production class in school!

    Yes, American Soccer is the best show they have because it’s more natural but the rest simply sucks. They don’t seem to be very harsh critics of themselves because I’d be embarrassed to put such amateur sounding programming on the air.

    I don’t think ESPN could produce such low grade programming if they tried! It’s a shame Soccernet is not turned into a full service digital channel they I can get like the utterly useless “ESPNU” about college sports.

    Moreover, their game-time delivery robs the viewer of any atmosphere. The sound quality at recent matches from Italy’s Milan derby, Inter-Roma from the San Siro and El Clasico from Spain were so muted as all their games are. A game from the JJB sounds louder than 80,000 people at the San Siro or the Bernabeu.

    I’s have had a laundry list of complaints a mile long had I had the chgance to go with you!

  2. Kartik

    April 16, 2007 at 9:16 am

    Awesome post, Gaffer! I am a big fan of the show and as a south Floridian who grew up watching Ray Hudson at Lockhart I look forward to the video podcast!

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