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Should Fox Soccer Channel Do An ESPN-Style Premier League Production?

Somewhere in the corridors of Fox Soccer Channel’s headquarters in Los Angeles, California, an executive or two must have wondered whether Fox should consider adopting ESPN’s approach to Saturday morning Premier League soccer. While Fox has continued its same proven formula for several years, ESPN raised the bar significantly this season by hiring pros Ian Darke, Steve McManaman and others to bring an English production exclusively to an American audience.

The consistency of Darke being the familiar voice each Saturday morning is comforting as well as the pre-match interviews with the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson, David Ginola, Gerard Houllier, Ray Parlour and others. Then you have the post-match wrap-up, the half-time segments with Rebecca Lowe and so much more. ESPN has really pulled out all the stops to bring a top-notch production to viewers in America. It’s almost as if this is the dress-rehearsal for when ESPN may one day in the future usurp the TV rights for the Premier League in the US away from Fox and back to Bristol, CT.

Meanwhile Fox is continuing to go through the motions and delivering the vast majority of Premier League games to America. The productions are predictable but reliable. There are very few frills. And we get to hear a range of commentators courtesy of who is behind the mic for that particular game courtesy of TWI in England.

But based on the success of ESPN’s new model this season, it makes you wonder if the execs at Fox are considering their own changes. Fox has already made the commitment to hire on-site talent such as Warren Barton, the former Newcastle and England international, and others such as Kyle Martino, Keith Costigan, Christian Miles and Christopher Sullivan. So for Fox to change its tactics and start hiring British talent to present its games live from England would be a massive U-turn.

Of course, Fox Soccer Channel and Sky Sports are owned by the same media giant. So it’s quite possible that Fox could strike a partnership deal with their colleagues in the United Kingdom, but I don’t see it happening. Unless, of course, ESPN’s TV ratings for the Premier League go through the roof and it makes economic sense for Fox to change its tactics to bring in more ad revenue dollars.

What do you think? Will Fox stay the course or should they consider adopting ESPN’s tactics of bringing an English production to an American audience? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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  1. ghdc

    February 6, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Time for Fox to excite fans with knowledge and charismatic uk presenters. Warren Barton is deadpan, unoriginal, opinionated and rude constantly speaking over others, his comments are cliches and are routinely same each week. He is a put-off I regularly turn off the sound when he’s speaking.

  2. JR

    December 5, 2010 at 4:47 am

    Hi ESPN and Ian Darke!


  3. brn442

    December 2, 2010 at 12:58 am

    To be fair to Fox, sometimes they literally have a minute between the end of a serie a match and the kickoff their midday matches, something ESPN, doesn’t have to worry about, ironically ESPN had similar issues with their coverage of the Champions League in the 90’s.

    However, as I’ve said before, Fox’s production is way too often shockingly just inches above a typical public access channel, with both their EPL coverage and their in house programming, as per the ill-fated Fox Football Fone in. They can and should do better.

  4. john bagley

    December 2, 2010 at 12:22 am

    I’ve seen high-school tv studios with better quality sets than FSC’s studio. Its a complete joke. Those commentators are also a bunch of idiots. Christian MIles dreams of being Bob Costas while the other toolboxes are collecting a paycheck. And that lame halftime pub “atmosphere” must have been conceived by a college intern who watched an EPL game in a local pub…what a concept !

    ESPN is not joking around. They’ll get the rights to the U.S. EPL and Champions League back in time for the next World Cup. Then we can flip over to FSC to watch some Serie A, J-League Football, 2 hours of SkySports and 18 hours of infomericals. Brilliant !

  5. Ken

    December 1, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    I have to agree with the comments that most of FSC’s presentation values are laughably bad. FSC’s studio programming pales in comparison to the Big Ten Network (another niche sports channel run under the Fox umbrella) let alone to something like ESPN. I appreciate FSC for the live games and review show, but not having the fox soccer report in hd or any other reasonably interesting original programming is frustrating.

  6. Dan

    December 1, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    It seems to me that ESPN is putting WAY too much money and time into a 5am broadcast (on the west coast) for the not to be thinking of bringing the Premiership back to ESPN, i would be so happy if thats the case. Seems that they would need another channel to cover enough matches properly though…

    • sucka99

      December 1, 2010 at 6:16 pm

      ESPN Deportes/ Only the big 4 matches would make it onto ESPN’s English cable networks.

    • Lloyd

      December 2, 2010 at 2:56 am

      ESPN UK is handling the broadcast for the early Saturday morning games. ESPN 2 just simulcasts to the US audience. Ironically the broadcast is not shown in the UK since Sky owns the rights for that game. I hope ESPN doesn’t get full rights to the EPL for the reason mentioned above. I like the fact that I can see 8-10 EPL games 1-2 nPower Championshiop games, Carling Cup Ties and FA Cup Ties (I have FSC and FSP)

  7. Munsterman

    December 1, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    In reply to Kris. I have Fox Soccer Plus on FIOS. I asked, and they told me, they do not have any plans to move to HD. Both Fox channels absolutely suck in quality compared to ESPN. Which makes it even more difficult to justify paying $14.99 a month. The truth is, if I had not such an interest in rugby, I would forego the soccer games I would miss that are shown on FS+. They have us over a barrel. The old Setanta used to show several Magner games each week, but FoxSoccer+ only shows two (sometimes) and never live. Besides, I have stopped sending emails to Fox Soccer Plus because they consider themselves so big and important that they do not reply.

  8. Munsterman

    December 1, 2010 at 10:56 am

    I know I am one of the lucky ones to have the option of Fox Soccer Plus. I get to see most of the soccer games I want and some of the rugby I want, but it drives me crazy at times to be paying $14.99 for a presentation that is much worse than even FSC. No pregame or half time discussion for anything – just constant repetitive advertising of the games and leagues they show.

    They buy in the rugby coverage, so why can’t they also buy the studio discussions at least for the rugby?

    • Kris

      December 1, 2010 at 11:15 am

      Munsterman, do you get FS+ on DirecTV? I just upgraded to HD and the SD (621) feed looks worse than ANY other channel, SD or HD. I posted another comment in about calling DirecTV.

      • sucka99

        December 1, 2010 at 6:13 pm

        I believe it’s HD on 621-1 for live games only

  9. Stevo (LFC YNWA)

    December 1, 2010 at 10:10 am

    First off lets not lose sight of the fact that we should be stoked to have all these games on TV. It’s really all about watching the match right? Back in England currently the PL games are limited to maybe a game on Saturday(not sure about that even any more), Super Sunday and Monday night. That’s about 3 or 4 plus MOTD on Saturday night with all the highlights. Granted we can’t spend a Saturday at Anfield or Old Trafford but we’re spoiled rotten for choice of games and always get the top fixtures. I get to see the majority of Liverpool games if not all which I wouldn’t do in England(ok maybe online). With that said:

    1.I would much prefer the build-up, half time and post game shows presented by the English presenters we all know from back home no matter the channel. It does add to the atmosphere of the game. Ok maybe not Andy Gray, but Lineker, Redknapp, Wright, Merson, Thompson and Hansen usually have some entertaining stuff for us even if we don’t always agree.

    2.Would it really be in any US network’s best interest to force down our throats/over promote ENGLISH soccer here in the states? Wouldn’t it potentially take ratings away from American sports where mega revenue is currently being earned by AMERICANS? We are in the US right? Like it or not the average American will always prefer American Football, Baseball and Basketball it’s just how kids are brought up here. In England Football is it. Rugby to a degree but nothing near Football. Ok maybe a bit of cricket too.

    I’ve been in the States for years now and the footy, absolute radio and a Boddigton’s is about all that I have from back home unless I pay through the nose for a good pasty. So lets be glad we have access to all these games. FSC, ESPN or whatever channel serves up the Prem. It’s a win win for us, minus Christian Myles and crew, yeah.

  10. Bob H.

    December 1, 2010 at 7:44 am

    I am extremely pleased with the coverage given by ESPN. I have never been a fan of FSC’s commentators. However, I get to see nearly all of the EPL games either on ESPN, FSC and Fox Soccer tv. As long as I can see so many games I’m not going to complain. Yes, FSC’s production is poor, but at least I can see the games. I don’t want that to change. I rarely watch any of the half time or post match shows on FSC because of the poor quality. For now i”m happy with the way things are.

  11. JC

    December 1, 2010 at 1:58 am

    I sort of agree with the “don’t bite the hand…” sentiment. Or at least, I’m not willing to care enough for FSC to improve, so long as they don’t go away. Remember how it used to be just a few years ago? One or two games a week seemed like a huge deal.

    There’s nothing wrong with wanting FSC to improve, but I’m content with the B-level production values if it guarantees we won’t lose any of the matches – and avenues to see the matches.

  12. Paul Dickson`

    November 30, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    enjoyed the comments – as a Brit living in NY for 17 years truly grateful for FSC just bringing English football to US TV – but must agree that most presenters are amateurs – especially compared to Ian Darke (who used to do boxing for BBC Radio! but is enjoyable and knowledgeable) and McManaman. Barton has no TV presence. And it’s annoying FSC still not on HD on Fios.. why is that? FSC uses “international” Sky coverage.. not what is shown in the UK.. that’s why we get old hacks like Alan Parry – who is simply a walking cliche machine and boring David Pleat and Trevor Francis..

  13. Ardwickian

    November 30, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    Don’t bite the hand that feeds us,their was nothing before fox coverage and although espn’s is indeed better it only got involved when it noticed how well fsc did over the past ten years.

  14. 30f

    November 30, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    I don’t want ESPN taking over all the EPL game rights, or even many more of them, because then we would have less games on TV. ESPN would certainly broadcast just the ‘big boy’ games plus maybe Bolton and Fulham to get USMNTers on the air. I’ll happily take the somewhat lower production values of pre and post game shows in exchange for having as many of the games broadcast live as possible. Are we really kvetching about the half-time show? I don’t find any half-time or pre-game show for any sport to be all that informative.

    I agree with the pro-Bobby Mac sentiments. He is the best thing going on Norte Americano soccer coverage and that is because he is HONEST. He says what he thinks and feels, which is ALWAYS more interesting than some ‘the players give 110%’ and ‘this is the most exciting league in the universe’ cheerleading BS. Commentators willing to call out bad performances and not just parrot some party line are 10x more important than the graphics packages, IMO. Unique voices, even ones I don’t agree with all the time, make those ‘around the game’ shows interesting. Does anyone else miss Cohen?

  15. Football Souvenirs

    November 30, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    Anything that takes the Premier League to a wider audience has to be a positive

  16. Will

    November 30, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    I don’t care about a pregame show but I get only and it is annoying to see the best Fox games reserved for their cable stations. I get uber-basic cable and don’t have FSC. I’d be curious to know how many people are in the same boat as me, if any. Granted, beggers can’t be choosers.

  17. Lars

    November 30, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    My old High School’s morning program (done by students) was better produced, written, and delivered than FSC pregame/SuperSunday+/FSC Report. I have seen PBS shows from 1960s with better sound, staging, and picture quality. They need to spend SOME money on better equipment/talent. Calling Martino, Miles, and former Fox Football Friday “bartender” Costigan talents is stretching it.I feel bad for Bobby McMahon having to endure the “analysis” of his fellow sportscasters…ESPN is miles ahead of FSC (except Darke does sometimes “dumb down” his commentary to fit the casual American).

    However, the single thing that annoys me more than anything on FSC showings of the Prem, are the 10 boxes that will suddenly, during the game, pop-up around the edges of the screen advertising for Geico, WorldSoccerShop, etc…

    Call me spoiled all you want.

    • Madschester United

      November 30, 2010 at 5:06 pm

      HAHAHA… spot on!

      Just remove the drunk quartet from Super Sunday and rename the channel McMahon’s Football Channel. Anything he does is worth watching. The rest is amateurish at best.

  18. Erich B.

    November 30, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Gaffer, have you seen any recent ratings for the EPL matches that have been shown on ESPN2? Has the network seen an increase in viewership since changing their format?

    • The Gaffer

      December 3, 2010 at 2:37 pm

      Hi Erich, TV viewing audience numbers for Premier League matches on ESPN2 and FSC are definitely higher this season than last. I’ll try and get some of the latest numbers to report in the near future.

      The Gaffer

  19. EvertonfanKY

    November 30, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    Do you think a Fox Soccer channel executive can actually read or even reads this page?

    Someone saying there production standards matching PBS made me laugh. I can see FSC asking for donations for a new set and for some WD40 to stop making Warren Barton so woodern.

    So FSC pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee stop butchering the international feed leave it as it is. Give us a feel for the atomosphere of the game.

    Please get give some lessons too Warren Barton he needs to stop looking so stiff and woodern or even better let him go. Maybe he can be a door stop in yor offices.

    Give us soccer AM and pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeee start showing some of the UK feeds for the games they do speak English in American and England.

    Infact just give up all your rights to ESPN and let them put them start a soccer channel and put every live game on ESPN3 too.

    • Earl Reed

      November 30, 2010 at 1:57 pm

      “Infact just give up all your rights to ESPN and let them put them start a soccer channel and put every live game on ESPN3 too.”

      This is an interesting thought. First off, I really want to see FSC become a successful, stable channel. But if what we have is all we’re going to get, I tend to agree with this. ESPN has the marketing arm and clout in the United States to ram a sport down someone’s throat and create a market from nothing. The X Games and World Series of Poker are two examples of developing a new market out of pretty much nothing.

      • jeneria

        November 30, 2010 at 4:47 pm

        Don’t forget that ESPN also manged to turned paintball and poker into legitimate sports. Oh and the Outdoor Games, too. Imagine what they could do with the EPL if they even tried.

        • jeneria

          November 30, 2010 at 4:48 pm

          Sorry, saw that you already brought up poker. And they may have moved the Outdoor Games to the Outdoor Channel.

      • sucka99

        December 1, 2010 at 2:25 am

        If that’s the case then the MLS ratings wouldn’t be going into the tank.

        How many WSOP events do you see broadcast live anymore? And how did ESPN help the NHL? Reruns of The Fresh Prince were outrating ESPN2 NHL games. And apparently they’ve done somewhat better over on Versus.

        The thing is – ESPN can promote the hell out of individual events. But they can do nothing about leagues. See: NASCAR.

    • sucka99

      December 1, 2010 at 2:21 am

      Ahh the old “ESPN needs to create a soccer channel” line. They have a soccer channel – it’s called ESPN Deportes. Or ESPN3. Or ESPN Caribbean.

      If ESPN wanted a Soccer cable channel they would have already bought out GolTV instead of piecemeal their La Liga and Bundesliga rights to put on Deportes.

    • The Gaffer

      December 3, 2010 at 2:38 pm

      EvertonfanKY, there are quite a few Fox Soccer Channel employees who are big fans of EPL Talk who read the blog and listen to the podcast. And some of the execs definitely read the blog.

      The Gaffer

  20. csb059

    November 30, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    “Soccer Talk Live was both a creative and conceptual train wreck. It was built on a bad concept(trying to convert non-soccer fans on a soccer-only channel), and executed even worse.”

    Spot on, Trevor. Why Fox would think non-soccer fans are watching FSC is beyond me. Most non-fans I have have no idea there is a “soccer only” channel. In Chicago, the small graphic in the sports section listing the sports on radio and TV for the day never mentions any matches on FSC but always notes the EPL matches on ESPN. I was not a huge fan of FFF but when I did catch it I was usually entertained, except for the need to have a female 3rd whell that could barely read an email in an intelligible fashion.

    • sucka99

      December 1, 2010 at 2:19 am

      I always wonder if they tried to do that and sell it to FSN. That’s the only explanation I have for taking the light n fluffy approach.

      • csb059

        December 2, 2010 at 1:37 pm

        Interesting thought, but why would they have to “sell it” to FSN? Aren’t FSC and FSN part of the same larger corporation?

        • sucka99

          December 3, 2010 at 1:24 am

          Well, neither FSC nor Fox Sports set each individual FSN’s schedules. I’m sure they have some influence, but someone has to sell the concept of the show to FSN and show why they think their audience will tune in. Plus there are also Comcast and MSG owned FSN affiliates. They buy the Champions League, the WPS and the delayed EPL games and the Sunday wrap-up. Why couldn’t they buy Soccer Talk Live too – especially considering the show was targetted at a general audience.

  21. Trevor

    November 30, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    FSC just aren’t in the position to begin producing anything near the quality of ESPN. They’ve still failed to create any quality, compelling, new original content.

    Soccer Talk Live was both a creative and conceptual train wreck. It was built on a bad concept(trying to convert non-soccer fans on a soccer-only channel), and executed even worse.

  22. Fernando

    November 30, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    I have long held the opinion that FSC has some of the poorest set designs in all of broadcast television. This channel likes to remind us about how much passion they have for the game and they make us watch Miles, Barton and Sullivan yack about the EPL on a cable access set.

    The level of punditry is low . Who is Keith Costigan? From a pure visual standpoint FSC is terrible. Fox is a powerful entity (I realize FSC is a minor player) but from a quality perspective, to allow one of your channels to appear second rate is sad.

    Graphics, sets, pundits, presentation all go to ESPN.
    The games are the only reason for FSC. It’s clear no one at Fox wants to change that.

  23. Earl Reed

    November 30, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    If you look at Fox Soccer Channel’s primary draw, it’s gotta be EPL and Champions League coverage. To me it makes little sense for FSC to be based in the United States.

    If I were FSC, I would look towards the way American football is covered. That enterprise is highly successful from a ratings standpoint. In that, what you need are:

    A) Studio announcers who connect with the audience.
    B) Solid profile pieces on players, managers, styles, history, and many other facets of the game.
    C) Well informed and delivered breakdown of each match, perhaps with announcers picks.
    D) Interactive Q&A with the panel, discussing the major issues of the day.

    If you have to, use creative means to sell time during the studio show so that it can offset shortening commercial breaks.

    Finally, I think that ESPN2’s coverage can only help FSC. The more that ESPN succeeds in winning over viewers, the more viewers will begin to explore other avenues for watching the teams that they prefer. I don’t know if ESPN ever has plans to move a game to the mothership, but that Manchester United/Arsenal game on 12/13 would be a great introductory game for a number of viewers. If ESPN could be convinced to preempt the Colin Cowlick Crapfest and Pardon The Idiots for a meaningful soccer match, it could be a good thing for soccer in this country. And bill the sucker, don’t just have it be an afterthought.

    • sucka99

      December 1, 2010 at 2:18 am

      the NFL is successful because of the product on the field, not the production in the TV truck

      • Earl Reed

        December 1, 2010 at 10:54 am

        That’s a big part of it, but I also believe that there’s a generation who grew up watching NFL Countdown on ESPN, and ESPN’s shrewd packaging of that pregame show (back when they didn’t even air NFL games at all) brought them great ratings and propelled the league to what it is today.

        • sucka99

          December 1, 2010 at 6:11 pm

          I grew up watching Countdown and I hate it now. Too much dead horse beating. Honestly – what helped the NFL is the product on the field, gambling, fantasy football and now the RedZone channel. What Meshawn Johnson says about Vince Young’s ability to lead is of no consequence.

  24. David G

    November 30, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    I really like the way FSC brings each game as its almost being played in a vacum. They never run a score ticker below and if you avoid half time you rarely hear the results of other games. This is great for people who have to record certain games but still watch some live (basically out of order).

    ESPN on the other hand will tell you the other scores around teh league constantly and will always have the score below.

  25. Patrico

    November 30, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    I would trade all the other production value if I could watch FSC in HD.

    I still can’t – we have Fios.

  26. RobG4

    November 30, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    I liked the story on the ESPN broadcast this weekend about pies.

    I always wondered what a Pukka Pie was.

    • eplnfl

      November 30, 2010 at 8:46 pm

      Me too.

      The story highlights the point here. The ESPN production brings the American viewer closer to the game. Those of us here that always advocated for a ESPN production have been proved right. Bringing there own team on site was something that FSC always was missing and the international feed has no identity for the viewer. The ESPN broadcast has quickly become the EPL game of the week for the American audience.

      Frankly, the early time slot helps in many parts of the country. You can get up and watch the game and have your day a head of you. Once you do this the rest of the schedule becomes less important.

      FSC would do well by using it’s corporate ties to SKY Sports to bring to it’s audience the same type of on the spot coverage that ESPN has developed.

      • sucka99

        December 1, 2010 at 2:16 am

        So that mean hiring a production crew and talent to be at one? two? 5? games live and beam their reports live back to Los Angeles. Sky’s resources are busy with Sky stuff and you can’t just take their broadcasts as or it will look like FSC is less a channel and more just a wildcat feed of Sky Sports.

        • palms

          December 1, 2010 at 4:10 am

          I’ve never been against the “wildcat feed of Sky Sports” idea.

  27. Sammy J

    November 30, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    FSC is utterly amateur in terms of production quality. They’ve ruined all of the quality original programming that they once had (Fox Football Fone-In) by getting rid of their best commentators and inexplicably retaining the “services” of Eric Wynalda, who can barely talk.

    They have the premier league review show, but why can’t they have an EPL talk style show? All they do is sit on their relatively marginal viewership, and not expand or generate content of their own.

    This coupled with the continuing lack of HD on Comcast and Fios is unforgivable if you’re trying to run a respectable media service.

    FSC is TRASH

    • Andy

      November 30, 2010 at 2:11 pm

      I’m glad Fox got rid of Steve Cohen on the phone in show.

      Bigoted ignorant scouse hating idiot. He decided to give his own version of events of Hillsborough and blamed the fans even though the independent Taylor report put the biggest portion of blame on Police management.

      Apart from that, Fox are total entertainment amateurs compared to ESPN. I love the shots of the crowd before the game and the shots in the tunnel. All Fox do is show football, plain and simple. Coverage starts at kick off.

  28. Vious

    November 30, 2010 at 11:48 am

    With ratings still ON THE WHOLE average, there is little reason to

    MLS ratings going down don’t help

  29. 30f

    November 30, 2010 at 11:05 am

    The ESPN Saturday games are largely irrelevant to those of us living on the West Coast of the United States. Most of these matches start at 5AM if not earlier, so my experience with what ESPN is doing with Darke and crew is more from heir Monday ‘night’ games or playing back the early morning post game wrap up to catch the highlight goals on my DVR.

    This is not to say that ESPN isn’t (or is) doing good work, just that for a good portion of the soccer watchers in the States it hardly matters. I haven’t really noticed and this is in a season where that super-early ESPN game has been the best match-up of the weekend about half the time.

    • Phenoum

      November 30, 2010 at 11:43 am

      FYI – A ” good portion of the soccer watchers in the States” DVR the ESPN games and watch them when we wake up. Surprised you dont do the same, but to call them irrelevant is to be quite self-centered

      • 30f

        November 30, 2010 at 12:40 pm

        I certainly am self-centered, thank you for noticing.

        Maybe there are people out there who DVR the early game and then play it back, but when do they do it? Late Saturday night? Or do they play back the early game while they are recording the other, later games (which will then themselves have to played back later on)? How much of my Saturday am I committing to this? And if I *do* play back the game action, the part I am FF-ing through is gonna be the higher quality pre, half and post-game stuff that is the focus of this post.

        I have trouble watching recorded sporting events in general (hello, Olympics) – it seems to take most of the excitement out of it for me. Maybe that makes me unusual but I doubt it. If Fulham (the team I follow) was on that early game, I would certainly record it, but any other match up (even the big games) and I’ll just catch the highlights at the half of the games that start after dawn where I live.

        • JC

          December 1, 2010 at 2:06 am

          I used to feel that way about recording sports, but over time I’ve become used to it. It’s to the point where I often forget that I’m watching a recording. Took about a full season for me to get comfortable with it.

          I usually wake up and watch with a cup of coffee. If there are two great games, I’ll watch them back to back, or watch one in the morning and one in the evening. If I only have time for one I don’t always watch the ESPN game, particularly if FSC has a better one, but the fact that ESPN2 is in HD is a major factor in its favor.

          I never watch a recording that is more than a day old, though, so I suppose I draw the line somewhere.

          All of this is leading up to the point I want to make, which is that you should give it another shot. At least now you know if you do try it again, there’s a good chance, even though the match is recorded, you aren’t the only one watching. 🙂

  30. Smokey Bacon

    November 30, 2010 at 11:00 am

    AS much as ESPN has upped their game, I still suspect they would drop the EPL in a heartbeat if truck-racing or some other bullshit brought in more advertising dollars. Therefore its vital that Fox Soccer Channel remains viable and the only way they are is if they retain some rights to the EPL. I’d prefer to have things stay the way they are right now than have FSC overeach and go down in flames. I have no problem with Miles as the front man but Sullivan is awful and so is Barton. Just because he’s English doesn’t he is a good analyst. He is terrible so anything that sees him shipped back to Blighty and off our screens is alright by me. Maybe Fox can poach Robbie Mustoe who I thought did a nice job at ESPN to replace Barton.

    • Brendan

      November 30, 2010 at 5:35 pm

      “AS much as ESPN has upped their game, I still suspect they would drop the EPL in a heartbeat if truck-racing or some other bullshit brought in more advertising dollars.”

      Well of course. FSC isn’t bringing you soccer out of the goodness of their heart, their goal is to bring in revenue for News Corp. It fills a specific niche nicely right now, which probably brings in a higher ad rate than you would expect. Don’t for a second think that if FSC became an albatross on the News Corp. bottom line that it wouldn’t be yanked off the air.

  31. sucka99

    November 30, 2010 at 10:54 am

    Two points:

    1. FSC is in one third the homes as ESPN2. Their viewers are likely aleady people who have some affinity to spots and understanding of the game and don’t need the condescending brand of commentating that Darke has migrated to on the 4 Letter.

    2. As you mentioned FSC has improved based on the ESPN model. They diagram influential plays, and have a pre-game and wap show that they didn’t have 3 years ago and that ESPN doesn’t have during the 10am games. So the only place where FSC is lacking is the halftime show. Not to mention their great presentation of the MLS.

    Given that FSC is a channel dedicated to soccer and playing as many games as possible (and not shifting them online) then I’d prefer watching the games rather than seeing stories about Stuart Holden’s mom or Bolton’s stadium hotel. Different audiences.

    • Patrico

      November 30, 2010 at 12:10 pm

      Ha! Have to admit, I did watch that segment on the Reebok luxury suites, even though I had the match DVR’d. Not sure how I got sucked into that.

  32. jbm

    November 30, 2010 at 10:53 am

    ESPN is able to offer better production and analysis thanks to it’s other offerings. While I doubt they lose money on a 745am Premier League game (or even a Monday afternoon) they can splurge for a nice graphical package, sound, and commentators.

    FSC only rakes in the viewers with it’s soccer offerings. While it’s increasing, it has no MNF, SportsCenter, or PTI. FSC seems to be the wholesale offering of soccer: few frills, lots of games. ESPN gives the glitz and glamour. And I’m pretty fine with that. If you’re watching a game on FSC instead of ESPN I feel you’re more likely to be following blogs like this one or reading SkySports.

    Good article Gaffer, it’s really interesting to see what direction FSC takes in the near-term, especially if the US gets the World Cup in 2022.

    • sucka99

      November 30, 2010 at 11:03 am

      Exactly. Is ESPN doing a 30 minute special about the World Cup 2018/2022 bid votes or showing the program live? One is Best Buy and one is NewEgg.

  33. Garrett

    November 30, 2010 at 10:49 am

    I wish FSC would partner up with Sky and bring us their coverage, or bring in a big name commentator like Alan Parry. However, I’d like to see ESPN do what Sky does, and that’s have 5 channels (Sky Sports 1-4, Sky Sports News). ESPN is almost there with that feat with three TV channels and one online. I’d love to see more than one game on at the same time! Oh, I’ve still yet to see FSC in HD…

    • Simon Burke

      November 30, 2010 at 8:26 pm

      Spot on Garrett, I wish they’d bring us more Sky feeds. Sky do football very well and with real enthusiasm. FSC is fine, it brings me the games, it takes the TWI feed which is usually the best thing about the whole coverage they have but it could be better.

      They are not in competition with ESPN however so have no need to up their game really. If an ESPN game clashes with FSC game (rarely at 10am) I will always pick the channel showing my team, or the best match – regardless of presentation.

    • nobody

      December 1, 2010 at 10:11 pm

      ESPN has six channels not counting ESPN Deportes.

      ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNews, ESPN Classic, ESPN U, ESPN

      • sucka99

        December 1, 2010 at 10:38 pm

        ESPNews only shows highlights, Classic rarely shows any live events by contract, and U only shows college/u-20 stuff. That leaves ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN3. Guess which one they’ll pick for the non-big 4 games?

  34. Hank Sperka

    November 30, 2010 at 10:41 am

    I like how you referred to Christian Miles as part of the “talent”. Obviously this was a typo, as he continues to be lifeless, dull, uninteresting and adds little value to the FSC pregame lineup.

    Also — since the early ESPN game and broadcsat goes right up to 10AM EST, I really have no reason to flip over to FSC until the kickoff.

    Good discussion topic though. Keep up good work


  35. soonerscotty

    November 30, 2010 at 10:33 am

    FSC probably won’t change a thing but, I’d be happy if they got their production up to at least PBS levels of quality.

    • Phenoum

      November 30, 2010 at 11:48 am

      Agreed – I’m half tempted to apply for a job there just so there’s someone with a sense of how to do stuff at that place! It’s embarrassing really.

      Also – As an Arsenal fan, I’ve been rather pissed off to have to listen to Efan Ekoku spout sh!t about us the pa st two weeks in our games. Ian Darke does a great job, but Efan seems like he’s just waiting to get a low blow in on Arsenal. And it’s not even clever – he’s just regurgitating what the bigoted media and tabloids say about the Gunners to spur controversy and drive newspaper sales.

      My wife gets annoyed that I get pissed off at the tele lately – so i’ve taken to muting the game anytime I smell Efan cooking up his shite again

      • sucka99

        December 1, 2010 at 2:06 am

        He does that for everyone. He’s almost as bad as Andy “Eeyore” Gray

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