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EPL Soccer Viewers Get A Taste Of ESPN UK Experience


The result may not have satisfied Liverpool supporters, but the coverage of ESPN USA’s first Monday afternoon Premier League game of the season was splendid to watch.

Instead of utilizing the cast of characters from Bristol, CT, ESPN wisely decided to use the feed from ESPN UK. As a result, we were treated to  the subdued and low key Ray Stubbs in the studio with Kevin Keegan and Matt Holland in tow as pundits. In the gantry at Anfield was Jon Champion and Joe Royale providing excellent commentary as always.

I especially enjoyed the half-time analysis where Stubbs, Keegan and Holland were straight down to business and analyzed the two first half goals to identify who was at fault. Their clinical analysis instead of the hype and too-much-talk that we’re used to with other TV networks was refreshing.

During the game itself, the use of ESPN’s graphics on screen was clean and unobtrusive. Interestingly, you could tell that the ESPN UK feed of the game didn’t use tickers as opposed to the ESPN US feed because at one time the US ticker ran across the graphics that ESPN UK were using on-screen.

Judging by ESPN’s performance on Monday, soccer fans in both the United Kingdom and United States will be very pleased with the coverage of Monday night football. For ESPN viewers in the United States, though, the Saturday pre-game and half-time analysis needs a whole lot of work as chronicled by Dave Warner in the article ESPN’s EPL Coverage At Its Best When It Stays Out Of The Way.

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  1. Dane

    August 26, 2009 at 7:56 am

    wow, I take that back. I DID find it on the TV listings! WOW!

    It just does not say “HD”. 🙁

  2. Dane

    August 26, 2009 at 7:55 am


  3. Dane

    August 26, 2009 at 7:51 am

    “ESPN will also be premiering their La Liga coverage this weekend. My listings are showing the Barcelona/Sporting Gijon game will be on ESPN-HD on Monday afternoon beginning at 2:55 p.m.”

    are you talking abput ESPN in the US? checking their web TV listings does not show that.

    It would be awesome if it were tru, though.

  4. Chris

    August 25, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    John, No need to down a sport you cant play or couldnt play or dont care about. Each sport that is made is compltey different…and not all the sports out there are easy to play…So quit bashing something because you dont like it. you sound like a fool…I dont get cricket myself nor do i like it…but im not going to sit here and bash the hell out of it or bash the hell out of how they present it on tv.

    Now back to ESPN, I thought it was real nice…commentary does not bother me…i dont give a flyin flip who is commentating..Im here to watch the football not listen to somebody babel..But loved the HD…crsytal clear…love it can not wait till the World Cup to see the beautiful football played . I didnt like the post game thing being cut off…but i mean what could they say in 3 mintues…thats all they had left to do a post game show lol..but im not going to die over it. I really didnt like the guy making a funny comment about the other guy paying attention to the game. I almost feel he is doing the same thing John is doing to American Football..which is very foolish. but cant wait till saturday game day.

  5. El

    August 25, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    holy heck. Thanks Dane.

  6. Greg

    August 25, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    ESPN will also be premiering their La Liga coverage this weekend. My listings are showing the Barcelona/Sporting Gijon game will be on ESPN-HD on Monday afternoon beginning at 2:55 p.m. I wonder if ESPN will use their own announcers or if they will use the GOL TV commentators.

    • olivert

      August 25, 2009 at 5:41 pm

      Barcelona-Sporting de Gijon will be on Monday at 3:55pm Eastern Time on ESPN HD. The telecase will be a simulcast of ESPN Australia, with announcers sitting at Bristol, Connecticut (i.e. Healey, Smyth).

  7. Dane

    August 25, 2009 at 12:51 pm


    You can download HD football matches (including the last Liverpool v Aston Villa matchs) here:


  8. carol

    August 25, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    how will i get the irish game that we used to watch on setanta

  9. Matthew N

    August 25, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    Are there any ratings out for the second week of the Saturday morning game and the Monday afternoon game (I’m sure the latter isn’t out yet)?

  10. John

    August 25, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    What I hate about American Football (“Throwball”):
    Too many statistics–Do I really care about how many receptions this quarterback makes in the third quarter with 3:47 to go when the ball is between the 30-40 yard line when the weather forecast is cloudy, with a 10% chance of rain?

    Cartoon robots in the corner of the screen–Do we really need the ridiculous animations? Are we a Dreamworks movie or a sport?

    Yelling the commentary at you like you’re hearing impaired–Enough with the over-hyped and forced excitement. I watched them huddle for five minutes, I don’t need the orgasmic commentator to pump it up for me.

    Football team playing a football game with a football player carrying the football–Sometimes, it’s okay to just call it a “ball”. Could you imagine calling it a “football” or “soccer ball” everytime some does a throw-in?

    4 hours of pre-game/Over-analysis of every stupid non-sport related thing–Will T.O.’s rap album be a distraction today?!! He’s Al Michaels with the dramatic interview and analysis.

    Hysterical celebration after each tackle–You make a catch. Congrats.

    Commercials. TV-time outs–Stop. Start. Stop. Start. Stop. Enough. Said.

    Soundtrack in your face–Loud, furious music for the those fat Ohio NASCAR fans.

    The price–Football is relatively free in the U.S. versus the $200 NFL packages and exclusivity and blackouts.

    Drawing with the digital pen all over screen–Stop scribbling all of the screen. We get it, he ran through the middle of the two fats guys on the

    “World Champions” of the Super Bowl = Champions of the single country that plays the sport

    • Matthew N

      August 25, 2009 at 3:50 pm

      From a fat Ohio Nascar fan, piss off!

    • LI Matt

      August 25, 2009 at 5:33 pm

      Anyone from a country where DARTS is a televised professional sport has no business talking about American sports.

  11. RedMD

    August 25, 2009 at 11:24 am

    Fantastic to watch last night, its basically what we’ve all been craving I think, just give us English football matches the way it is presented over there because this is a wheel we will do no better at reinventing. That said, a few points:

    1. What could it possibly hurt moving the umpteenth daily broadcast of sportscenter to ESPN News in order to allow us to watch the ESPN UK Pregame for 30 minutes or so?

    2. As has been mentioned above, we couldnt get a post game? I have for years been waiting for someone…anyone…broadcasting football here to allow us to watch the manager interviews at the end of the match. It does add to the experience, I feel.

    3. In light of yesterday’s production (using the native ESPN UK broadcast) and given that Setanta used its UK production at every turn for premier league matches, it is blatantly obvious that FSC SHOULD BE USING SKY SPORTS EPL COVERAGE WHERE POSSIBLE (just as they used to in the good ‘ol days of fox sports world). Their in-house commentaries do nothing to add to it, and indeed, it does nothing to enhance the profile of FSC itself, other than to leave the viewer wanting.

    All this said, nice, nice performance last night, and I look forward to much more of it this season to come.

    • eplnfl

      August 25, 2009 at 1:09 pm

      Red, your on target on this. Adding the UK pre-game would seem to be in order.

  12. AJ

    August 25, 2009 at 11:04 am

    I thought whole thing was great. I love Jon Champion’s commentary. I don’t know if you all understood the little thing about Ray Everham watching the game because he used to work for Mr. Gillette in NASCAR.

  13. Pete

    August 25, 2009 at 10:51 am

    It’s a shame they had to cut the post game analysis short and go straight to the Nascar show.

  14. leafsfan1967

    August 25, 2009 at 10:51 am

    My only complaint yesterday was the abrupt cut away at the end of the game, but hey, we gotta get that NASCAR stuff in!

    All in all ESPN has made a superb start this season. We can only hope that they get more games in years to come. I can’t help wondering how long Setanta will be around…

  15. Ivan

    August 25, 2009 at 10:36 am

    Keegan did a fantastic job at the studio. John Champion was brilliant, as always. All in all, ESPN is learning, and learning fast…Brilliant coverage!!!Too bad L’pool were very poor(Xabi, Xabi, where have you gone?)

  16. Ian M

    August 25, 2009 at 10:31 am

    Although a UK national/resident I have to agree about the standard of Football (- its NOT socccer -) commentating in the US. To us Brits who’ve seen a bit of US style commentating its very funny when married to football and indeed the TV show ‘Soccer AM’ had a weekly sketch where it would be spoofed.

    US Football type commentating just does not ‘feel’ right and you are better off if you can manage to watch the action with the UK personnel doing the narration.

    This is not a ‘dig’ at the US – but it really is a case of horses-for-courses.

    However, do you think the more in-your-face approach of US commentators is, in the long run, more likely to tempt the casual US viewer into becomming a convert?

    • sucka99

      August 25, 2009 at 10:51 am

      i think you need a hybrid. expats and soccer 🙂 lovers here appreciate the little things on this broadcast as opposed to how ESPN handles MLS games and the Champions League last season. But the average US sports fan either comes to expect or likes the in your face style along with statistics and blather. and probably commercials 🙂

      i think the danger of 45 mins of uninterrupted tv programming to us broadcasters is the loss of opportunities to sell more advertising.

      • Ian M

        August 25, 2009 at 11:06 am

        Am I reading that right?

        Surely they don’t interrupt the flow of the actually match action to show commercials…?

        • Ian C (not the other Ians)

          August 25, 2009 at 11:58 am

          ESPN hasn’t put commercials in soccer matches for years. I still remember Mexico 1986 when NBC had Charlie Jones on the matches and it was HUGE that they didn’t interrupt for commercials. They just had a frame around the screen that said either Honda or Budweiser.

          • RedMD

            August 25, 2009 at 7:18 pm

            Of course then for Italia 90 TNT always had some nice commercials through the matches…that’s also the summer I first became acquainted with the “spanish channel” (at the time Univision was the only one available)…

  17. Ian

    August 25, 2009 at 10:17 am

    Well those of us in the UK have had ESPN for a few weeks now, and while it’s not at the level of Sky Sports, its a far far greater package than Setanta put out. Setanta were always screaming about how great a game was, even when it was a crap 0-0 draw. ESPN have realised theres no need for ridiculous hype – just let the game do the talking.Also, Kevin Keegan is probably a better pundit than he is a manager.

  18. John

    August 25, 2009 at 10:09 am

    I agree completely, the subdued commentary is so refreshing. I can’t remember once where the commentators even thought about discussing anything unrelated to the game or the most current play. Also, I got goosebumps twice before the game even started, first was when the commentator timed perfectly with the video to announce “THIS IS…ANFIELD” and second when they let us listen to “You’ll Never Walk Alone” without interruption. Great stuff from ESPN UK. Maybe we can use those clean, euro graphics on the ESPN US broadcast as well? Can’t wait for next the Monday game!

  19. SamSpur

    August 25, 2009 at 9:48 am

    most of the Saturday morning matches won’t be an ESPN UK simulcast, but this saturday’s Chelsea-Burnley match WILL be. Just so happens ESPN UK and Sky switched their coverage for this weekend (I believe so that Sky gets the Arse-ManU match over there)

  20. JF

    August 25, 2009 at 9:33 am

    El, highly doubtful, ESPN 2 shows a ton of stuff and I don’t see them putting aside that to re-air soccer matches.

  21. El

    August 25, 2009 at 9:27 am

    Any chance that ESPN2 will REAIR the Monday 3pm (EST) games later in the evening? I’m obviously working around that time and can’t watch these excellent high def broadcasts…….and no I don’t want to get a DVR, I’m too cheap.

  22. JW

    August 25, 2009 at 8:11 am

    Two things:
    1) My understanding is that the early Saturday games are NOT covered by ESPN UK, is that correct? If so, that makes it likely we’ll be seeing the Bristol team all season for those games.

    2) Gaffer used the perfect word to describe the studio analysis: SUBDUED. It was such a welcome surprise to hear Stubbs Keegan and Hollad not scream their “insight” at each other like every sport’s studio shows here in the U.S. Loved it!

    • The Gaffer

      August 25, 2009 at 9:09 am

      JW, correct. The Saturday morning games — whether they’re the 7.45am or 10am ET games on ESPN2 will be using the US analysts.

      The Gaffer

      • sucka99

        August 25, 2009 at 10:38 am

        actually this week ESPN UK and Sky swapped games so ESPN has the UK lunchtime game on both sides of the pond.

        btw – what was up with the NASCAR postgame show?

        • The Gaffer

          August 25, 2009 at 10:49 am

          Yeah, the sudden cut to NASCAR postgame show caught me by surprise. And the sarcastic laugh by ESPN’s NASCAR analyst (regarding the Liverpool v Villa game) was a little bit disrespectful, I thought.

          The Gaffer

          • sucka99

            August 25, 2009 at 10:54 am

            too many of ESPN’s establishment have too many negative views of soccer for me to see any kind of synergy between ESPN US and ESPN UK. I would love if they moved all the soccer production and talent over to the UK. Isn’t Sky doing some of the production too?

          • bluefanmd

            August 25, 2009 at 10:57 am

            It’s NASCAR, would you expect any other reaction from its analysts or fans? ESPN is really satisfying my expectations! I know it is early in the season, but how does this play out for them next year? I know ESPN UK has only one of the six packages, so does that mean less EPL on ESPN US next year, or will the rights possibly be sub licensed by FOX again?

          • Orlando

            August 25, 2009 at 11:46 am

            what did they said?

          • Matthew N

            August 25, 2009 at 12:25 pm

            “too many of ESPN’s establishment have too many negative views of soccer ”

            It annoys the hell out of me when ESPN pronounces almost every footballer’s name wrong when they never EVER pronounce any other sport’s players wrong. Yesterday they were calling Aston Villa Aston Viya (like it was Spanish). The other day they were mispronouncing every name on the highlights. What a joke of a network they are when it comes to footy. Their anchors can’t take the thirty seconds it takes to learn how to pronounce a few names, they would rather butcher it and embarrass themselves and their network.

            (This applies solely to ESPN non-soccer anchors… mostly Sportscenter people. Reischia Canidate is the top offender– she obviously takes no pride in her work..)

          • Kautzie

            August 25, 2009 at 11:11 pm

            They’re braindead rednecks what’d you expect?

          • SonicAD

            August 25, 2009 at 11:36 pm

            Actually, as a NASCAR fan myself, I didn’t think they were being derisive at all. I noticed what I think you’re thinking of, when Allen Bestwick said that Ray Evernham was watching Liverpool with interest… well, Ray Evernham co-owned a NASCAR team with George Gillett for awhile. Yes, the one who owns Liverpool. I don’t think there was any disrespect there at all, let alone any intent to do so.

  23. eplnfl

    August 25, 2009 at 8:01 am

    I think we have hit on it Chris. The use of ESPN’s UK team and coverage is what we are all looking for. A clear sharp picture, crowd views, and commentary that seems more on point and not distant. Particularly good was ESPN staying with the coverage at the end of the first half as the refs walked into the dressing room. All too often FSC would cut away right at the end and start their voice over from the studio. A local halftime show was a delight. Well done. They got it right yesterday.

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