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Fox Introduces Soccer Night in America

Looking to beef up their MLS coverage and stand out from ESPN, Fox Soccer Channel today unveiled their new theme for their weekly MLS game.  Calling it “Soccer Night in America”, the new program includes enhanced graphics, a new set, and a jazzed up marketing campaign to draw attention to the game of the week.

The intent of the redesign, according to the release from corporate, was to bring the soccer productions more in line with other Fox sports offerings.  Some of the new features include better, more streamlined branding of the MLS games shown under the Soccer Night brand, the use of super-slow motion filming to allow more precise looks at the action, and the introduction of Vizrt technology.  Vizrt is a graphic design company that incorporates 3-D imaging into their products to create a crisper, clearer picture; many broadcasts worldwide use the technology and it is most famous as the graphic company for the CNN holographs during the 2008 presidential election.  What will not change are the personalities: Christopher Sullivan and Eric Wynalda will still provide the pre-game and post-game coverage, while the play-by-play team will be JP Dellacamera and Kyle Martino.  The first match under the new brand is this Saturday’s Portland/Philadelphia matchup.

Obviously this is just coming out now due to the very late negotiations MLS had with television networks to cover MLS, so I guess it’s better late than never.  My first thought when I heard the new brand was, “that’s the NBC slogan”.  NBC uses the phrase “Football Night in America” for their Sunday night NFL games, so the idea is not an original one.  I am, however, a proponent of improving the picture and production of MLS matches and see these changes as definitely a good thing.  One thing I believe that has driven the popularity of soccer is how beautiful the beautiful game looks on HD televisions.  Modern technology highlights many of the positives of the sport: the crowd noise, the vibrant colors, the fast pace.

The change also shows Fox is taking MLS seriously, and that’s a nice change.  While it is hard to deny that the English Premier League is the network’s bread and butter, MLS always felt like the proverbial redheaded stepchild: tolerated but not as beloved as the larger league.  At least trying to keep up with the EPL productions (the major EPL matches have seen a step up in production value recently – see the lineup introductions) shows Fox does care about the American product.  While as a Comcast subscriber I do not have Fox Soccer HD, I am curious to see the difference in production values this Friday.

What do you think of the new “Soccer Night in America”?

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46 Comments

46 Comments

  1. Erik

    June 11, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    I’m watching NY against NE.
    Great game, but a real pain to watch. Half of the time the ball is out of the picture! Lousy camera work!!!
    Tell your camera man the thing he should look for is the little white round thing!
    What a bummer !!!

  2. Zack Kaiser

    May 5, 2011 at 2:23 am

    What will they do when they play a game in Canada. “Soccer Night in Ameri… wait I mean Canada.”

    • Alan

      May 5, 2011 at 2:24 am

      North America?

    • Earl Reed

      May 5, 2011 at 7:40 am

      Let alone if they start a game at 7 PM on the East coast, that’s 4 out west. So is that “Soccer Afternoon In The Rockies”?

      • Bolacuadrada

        May 5, 2011 at 9:19 am

        Just in case you don’t know. America is a continent, not a country. You can say “soccer Night in America” even if you are in Argentina, as you can say Football Night in Europe whether you are in Spain or in Germany.

        • Dave C

          May 5, 2011 at 2:30 pm

          Technically perhaps, but it’s pretty much unknown for anyone in the English language speaking world to collectively refer to the continents of North America and South America as just “America”. “The Americas” is the more common expression.

          • Charles

            May 6, 2011 at 6:50 pm

            One of those As in CONCACAF has to stand for America

            as in North and Central America.

  3. Bolacuadrada

    May 5, 2011 at 12:29 am

    I hope ESPN does something similar. Otherwise, they will lose a number of soccer fans like me. I used to watch ESPN Deportes and listen to ESPN Deportes Radio. When I realized that they only talk about America and Chivas from Mexico and Barcelona FC., I stopped watching and listening. Fox Soccer is my favorite channel now.

  4. AmericanizeSoccer.com

    May 4, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    This is a good change of pace and may be one of the solutions towards engaging more viewers, but this really needed to get done on ESPN. The problem with FSC is that there is so much competition on that channel from all the other Soccer leagues. ‘Soccer Night in America’ is a great moniker and can push better ratings with all the trimmings that come with it, but it is doubtful there will be any impact coming from FSC.

    • Abram

      May 4, 2011 at 9:28 pm

      Agreed, maybe FSC’s idea will spark ESPN to do the same.

  5. Ron

    May 4, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    Comcast now offers FSC on HD. Didn’t realize it until it said “Available in HD” on the channel guide info area. Sure enough, found it in the higher channel #’s. It looks great.

    • Robert Hay

      May 4, 2011 at 4:22 pm

      Ron –

      If this is true, please share the channel. This is the first I’ve heard of this.

      Robert

      • Ron

        May 5, 2011 at 9:42 am

        The specific #’s probably change per market, but I’m in Philly and FSC HD is found @ channel 1512.

  6. Andy

    May 4, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    on a friday night…. when most people go out. This is the worst night of the week to have “soccer night in America”.

    why not a monday?

  7. The original Tom

    May 4, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    I’m glad MLS games are getting enhanced production. Now the league needs a weekend rap-up show that gets replayed a few times.

  8. SSReporters

    May 4, 2011 at 11:59 am

    Soccer Night in America. Highly original title.

    Did Hockey Night in Canada really set off Baseball Night in America, Football Night in America, Hockey Day in America, and now Soccer Night in America?

    Come up with something like Christopher Sullivan singing “Are you ready for some futbol?” 😉

  9. Brian

    May 4, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Of course the big difference is that everyone knows when Football Night in America (Sundays), Monday Night Football and Hockey Night in Canada (Saturdays) are. “Soccer Night in America” is either Saturday or Friday depending on the week, which sort of undermines the concept.

  10. Rex

    May 4, 2011 at 9:20 am

    Forget games, what MLS needs is a weekly highlight show that replays a few times a week. This really needs to be on cable, but we know ESPN isnt up to the task. We really need a 3rd network.

    • Oh_yeah

      May 4, 2011 at 9:24 am

      MLS needs a review and preview shows.

    • Charles

      May 4, 2011 at 10:38 am

      I agree with Earl Reed.

      I remember when Pat Riley was in the booth for NBA games for a short while. It is amazing the level to which they understand the game. Having someone like that would be great.

      Wynalda, not even close.

      • Earl Reed

        May 5, 2011 at 8:02 am

        It’s finding the coach that’s the tough problem. The thing about good coaches, they tend to be good communicators since that’s one aspect of leadership. But the key is finding a coach that a) connects to the viewing public; b) has the requisite knowledge to be a quality analyst; and c) isn’t currently a coach (or in high demand to be one).

        I’m thinking Bob Gansler would be a start. MLS Cup winner, at least a name that many soccer fans recognize. He’s getting up there in age though.

  11. Earl Reed

    May 4, 2011 at 8:00 am

    If something isn’t working, then you need to make a change. I like that Fox Soccer is making an effort to pour some money into making the product better, more pleasing to the eye, and ultimately better reflective of the league.

    Personally, I’d love to see them hire a former manager or coach for the studio. That’s the one thing they really lack, in my opinion. I don’t feel as though guys like Sullivan or Wynalda really dig deep enough into the matches. It’s all well and good to show quick highlights of the goals. The “game-within-the-game,” though, is the main aspect that gets ignored in the broadcasts, even on ESPN. It’s these nuances that can help the novice viewer to overcome this element of “boredom.”

    • Oh_yeah

      May 4, 2011 at 9:21 am

      I agree with you completely. You make a good suggestion. I hope that they read this blog.

  12. Oh_yeah

    May 4, 2011 at 2:22 am

    I am all for the change. It will be a big improvement to their previous low production quality. Their production looked like a community access channel television sport program.

  13. dcudiplomat96

    May 4, 2011 at 12:48 am

    I saw the commercial not too bad the look has a semi american feel too it. Its not eurosnobby at all but that was short I guess ill see when the game comes on but MLS needs a channel that’s more available like TBS or TNT USA spike.

  14. Bolacuadrada

    May 4, 2011 at 12:15 am

    Yes. I like it and I will for sure watch it. I am glad the Seattle and Colorado game was already played so I do not have to see Zakuani’s injury in super slow motion. I love the new ideas FSC is coming with. Soccer Night in America! I love it.

  15. Bokey

    May 3, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    They can call it “Hot Chicks and Beer Night With Soccer in Las Vegas” and people still won’t watch until MLS gets some players in there fringe futbol fans can appreciate…

    • Tim

      May 4, 2011 at 5:06 am

      Good Troll, good troll

    • Charles

      May 4, 2011 at 10:34 am

      I think he is actually rooting for Ochocinco.

      What a troll….what a moron.

      • dan

        May 4, 2011 at 2:46 pm

        he is not trolling, and he actually has a point.

        until we can convert the eurosnobs to MLS it wont be a major product. and that has to do with quality on the pitch. the refs and players

  16. F19

    May 3, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    Yeah totally ripped off from Hockey Night in Canada. It sounds stupid to me. But what I think is irrelevant cause I don’t get FSC.

    • Tim

      May 4, 2011 at 5:05 am

      Don’t look know but one of the most successful NFL shows is called Football Night in America

      • TFCregina

        May 4, 2011 at 1:10 pm

        Which was also a ripoff of Hockey Night in Canada, a program that has been the most successful hockey show in Canada since 1931.

    • Abram

      May 4, 2011 at 7:28 pm

      My main problem is that like you I do not get FSC. If Soccer Night in America were going to be on basic Fox or FX it would be a huge deal, but since it is relegated (pardon the pun) to FSC, which most basic packages do not get, it is only a mid-sized deal.

  17. BradMc

    May 3, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    I still say that what they need is a show (or two) that highlights some drama in the league. Shows that tell some stories. Us casual fans are left to figure out who players really are from what little context the broadcasters have time to tell. Fox Soccer Report is international, which is great, but all we get are a few MLS stats and brief highlights. The pre and post game shows on FSC and ESPN are fairly dry as well. (although the commentary from Alexi Lalas is on the right track)

    Who are these players really? What are their histories? What are their personal stories? What players have a beef with each other? Who are the divas who aren’t really earning their keep? C’mon FSC, I WANT to be interested, so do some real reporting.

    They said they looked to ESPN for a Monday night show to take the place of FFF. What show did they copy it after? I’ve never seen a show on ESPN that was that goofy. Look at Inside the NFL, look at Baseball Tonight… JUST DO THAT!

    The irony is that FFF was the one show on FSC where you could actually learn some stories. As a newer fan to the game, I learned an amazing amount of back-story and upcoming notes of interest to follow from the like of Eric Wynalda. Now I’m back to struggling to manufacture my own interest.

    Creating a more glitzy production isn’t going to increase interest… telling stories is. Give us some human interest to follow and worry about the glitz after you’ve got the audience.

  18. Alan

    May 3, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    I like it. At least they are making an effort, which I give them credit for. I probably don’t watch the game of the week as much as I should I suppose (mostly I do Matchday Live). I will make a better effort at it if for no other reason than to help the ratings.

  19. Stamp

    May 3, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    Is “Soccer Night” really the best they could come up with?

  20. hendrix

    May 3, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    Football Night in America and Soccer Night in America are both ripoffs of the original: Hockey Night in Canada, which has been on the air since 1931 🙂

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hockey_Night_in_Canada

    • Earl Reed

      May 4, 2011 at 7:37 am

      Amen to this…was going to mention but you beat me to the punch!

    • Charles

      May 4, 2011 at 10:33 am

      Don Cherry couldn’t save this England based station.

  21. Sam Davis

    May 3, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    NBC was alright with them biting their “Football Night in America” moniker. It looks exactly like that, but I still like it. I don’t know how much it’ll get me watching the MLS game of the week (that I’m never looking for and thus never really catch), but it’s nice to know that their moving away from the dime-store quality production (relatively speaking) that we’re used to seeing from them.

    • Sam Davis

      May 3, 2011 at 9:49 pm

      EDIT: There was supposed to be a question mark after that first sentence.

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