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Review of FOX’s Women’s World Cup coverage

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FOX’s first major tournament of its 12-year TV deal with FIFA has ended with a bang for the network. In its month-long coverage of the Women’s World Cup, FOX broke TV records and put on first-class coverage that will go a long way to giving soccer fans confidence that FOX knows soccer. There’s still room for improvement, but overall FOX surprised many, myself included, by how well they did.

First and foremost, FOX’s coverage went a long way to giving women’s soccer the status level it deserves as a sport — on an equal playing field to coverage of the men’s game. The wall-to-wall coverage throughout the tournament on FOX and other FOX networks was superb. The competition was incredibly accessible for TV viewers. Plus, the network treated the coverage of the competition with the respect it deserved — from the incredible graphics to announcers and cast of well-known analysts.

Having said all that, the biggest complaint I have of FOX’s coverage of the tournament is that the talent didn’t give me enough reasons to want to tune in to hear what they had to say. By watching the games themselves, soccer fans will have witnessed everything they needed from this tournament, but there weren’t enough compelling reasons to listen to what talent such as Alexi Lalas, Heather Mitts, Kelly Smith, Rob Stone or Ariane Hingst had to say. Their opinions and insight were better than what we’re used to hearing on FOX’s coverage of the Champions League and MLS, but it wasn’t world-class or thought provoking like ESPN’s Women’s World Cup coverage in the past featuring Bob Ley, Julie Foudy, Rebecca Lowe, Monica Gonzalez and others.

In fact, FOX’s most insightful and opinionated women’s soccer expert — Monica Gonzalez — was relegated to cameo appearances when she should have been front and center throughout the tournament, even if she was being borrowed from ESPN.

The good news for FOX is that the network isn’t going to require a lot of work in order to improve its overall production of future World Cup tournaments. The missing ingredient is opinionated, informative and intelligent analysts. There are plenty of those that are available (American or from other countries), so FOX’s problem is fixable if they make better hiring decisions and correct some of the other issues (more on that later).

Back to the talent, the opinions expressed by Heather Mitts and Leslie Osborne, in particular, were particularly weak. It made them sound more like cheerleaders for the US team than analysts.

With Lalas, meanwhile, it’d be nice if he was able to focus less on histrionics and more on quality insight over the course of the tournament, particularly in the latter stages of the competition for the US where he was banging on the desk.

The lack of critical thinking was apparent throughout the majority of the tournament. While the set, wardrobes and accompanying graphics looked idyllic, the analysis was far from it. Think back through the entire tournament and try to remember one memorable insight or analysis. You’ll be hard pressed to do it.

The other two main issues with FOX’s coverage involved sideline reporters and the rules analyst Dr Joe Machnik.

While there’s no doubt that sideline reporters Jenny Taft and Julie Stewart-Binks worked hard over the course of the tournament, the whole role of a sideline reporter in soccer has to be questioned. First, their title is a misnomer. Throughout the entire tournament, we didn’t see one clip of them on the field during a game (presumably because they’re not allowed there due to FIFA rules). Second, soccer doesn’t have a need for a sideline reporter. During a game, they’re disruptive — adding little to no insight during a game, interrupting the flow of the commentary and sometimes even getting in the way of a goal call (as Stewart-Binks did during this beautiful goal by France’s Le Sommer).

Their role as a post-match TV reporter is far more rewarding. Taft, in particular, did extremely well in her post-match interviews with USWNT players.

Another unnecessary disruption during games throughout the course of the tournament was rules analyst Dr. Joe Machnik. Not only was he disruptive while viewers were watching games, but I have zero confidence or trust that Dr. Joe’s insight was correct. Yes, he used to be a match commissioner, but many of his judgements on referee rulings during the tournament seemed to be incorrect.

Putting Dr. Joe in such a position to be judge and jury was poor, in my opinion. Oftentimes, his opinions on rulings were taken as the gospel truth by the analysts on FOX Soccer and regurgitated over and over again.

Dr. Joe and the sideline reporters were distractions that we didn’t need.

While FOX, overall, hit a home run with its coverage of the Women’s World Cup, there’s a danger that the network will look at the incredible viewing figures for the 2015 Women’s World Cup and say to themselves, “We did it. Everything we orchestrated was perfect because the numbers say they were.” The reality is, however, that FOX had no real competition for its coverage of the Women’s World Cup, so the vast majority of soccer fans tuned into the coverage to watch the games on FOX. It wasn’t like last year where Univision Deportes put on world-class coverage of the World Cup that gave viewers a credible alternative to ESPN’s broadcast of the tournament. FOX’s only competitor was Telemundo/NBC Universo, and most people didn’t even realize they were showing the games on television too.

Still, FOX deserves a huge pat on the back for a job well done. They’ve come a long way in such a short time. One year ago, Gus Johnson was being touted by FOX as the announcer that would be commentating most of the US Women’s World Cup games for FOX. Thankfully, FOX and Johnson came to their senses and put JP Dellacamera in the position, who did a spectacular job over the course of the tournament.

Prior to the tournament kicking off, Lalas made a prediction on a journalists’ call that “We’re going to blow by [ESPN] with the World Cup coverage we’ll have on FOX.” While that didn’t happen, FOX has undoubtedly taken a big step in the right direction.

Here are some of my other highs and lows of FOX’s coverage of the Women’s World Cup:

Highs

1. Kate Abdo

The former Sky Deutschland presenter was a natural in front of the camera.  It’s just a shame that she wasn’t taking a more prominent role. I would have much preferred her to switch roles with Rob Stone and have “The American” do the late-night shift.

2. No Warren Barton

How liberating was it not to hear Mr. Cliche during the entire Women’s World Cup tournament?!

3. The trio

Despite criticism from some viewers, the trio of JP Dellacamera, Tony DiCicco and Cat Whitehill worked extremely well. It was a 3-person booth that balanced DiCicco’s more abrasive analysis with Whitehill’s positive remarks, with Dellacamera in the middle. It worked really well in my opinion.

Lows

1. Post-match highlights

After the final whistle was blown and the US had won the Women’s World Cup, you would expect a post-match show to include some of the highlights of the goals particularly given how amazing Carli Lloyd’s third goal was. However, the 30-minute post-match show on FOX included zero highlights of the goals. Viewers were told to switch to FOX Sports 1 for more coverage, which we did. But it wasn’t until 9:42pm ET that FOX Sports 1 showed highlights of the goals (and then they only showed the first 3, not all 7).

2. Rob Stone

Part of the issue with Rob Stone is that he isn’t the type of presenter that Bob Ley or Rebecca Lowe were, who both hosted ESPN’s World Cup 2011 coverage. Stone doesn’t play hardball, and seems far more comfortable asking the softball questions. FOX needs someone who is more of a hard-hitting presenter, like Ley, who won’t dodge the questions that need to be asked.

3. Lalas needs an antagonist

Lalas loves to debate topics. But unfortunately, most of the analysts during the Women’s World Cup coverage all agreed with each other. The only one who was the contrarian was Ariane Hingst, but the format of the five-person desk wasn’t conducive to Lalas and Hingst getting into some on-air disagreements like Lalas and Michael Ballack did during World Cup 2014 and Euro 2012.

To get the best out of Lalas, FOX needs to find an antagonist.

 

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48 Comments

48 Comments

  1. JACK

    July 10, 2015 at 10:03 pm

    people stop complaining about everything. The coverage was great! I enjoyed it! Let’s all smile, and move on! Sheesh, was that hard?

  2. Jeff

    July 8, 2015 at 9:07 pm

    I’ll try and cover some other areas that haven’t been touched upon in the previous comments:

    Positives:
    – Coverage on main FOX: The amount of games that were broadcast on the main FOX network really helped expose a lot of people to not just the Women’s World Cup but football being played at the highest level. This was a complete contrast to ESPN when they held the rights limiting the amount of games aired on ABC. What really stood out wasn’t that they broadcast 5 out of 7 USWNT games but the amount of other games played during the day they broadcast. I don’t know how they managed to get their local affiliates to give up time to show these games along with letting eps of World Cup Today pre-empt local news but all involved should be congratulated for making it possible. Hopefully this commitment by FOX will continue throughout their next decade as WC rightsholders.
    – FOX’s WC Features Unit: There were some great features that FOX aired throughout the WC that I don’t think got much attention than they should have. If you get a chance, have a look for them on YouTube because they are worth your time – especially the Abby Wambach reflective piece (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4kmMLNhXiGA) which was aired in the build-up to the final.
    – Presentation: Christopher mentioned it in his early review of FOX’s coverage but it deserves another mention. From the graphics to their set (especially the use of the set’s pitch and big screen to compliment each other to show graphics) & the outstanding theme that FOX introduced – they have a solid package which could should become a signature element of future World Cups that FOX covers.
    – Kelly Smith and Ariane Hingst: These two were the stand out analysts from FOX’s coverage. Both were insightful with their analysis and weren’t afraid to criticize teams or players when needed. Before FOX considers other analysts for the 2018 WC outside their tent, these two should be a lock in for their coverage.

    Neutral (Things that have both positive and negative elements to it):
    – Fox Sports Go: The additional feeds that FSGO provided (eg; ‘Match 360’) were great to have as a ‘second screen’ element to compliment the main coverage. However my biggest gripe with the service is the lack of a on demand/replay service for games aired previously. It was a joy during the last WC have the knowledge that if I miss a game or want to see it again, ESPN3 would have every game up to watch again. Hopefully a similar service will become available for FSGO in the future. People shouldn’t have to subscribe to the overpriced FOX Soccer Plus and/or FOX Soccer 2Go just to be able to watch match replays.
    – Rob Stone and Kate Abdo: Both are solid presenters who did a good job presenting throughout the World Cup. I know some don’t like Stone’s style because of a perceived (to them) lack of knowledge about football and that’s fine. However to a casual audience that any network would need to cater to during the World Cup, Stone’s style is ideal being a ‘traffic cop’ to handle discussion. As for Abdo, I’ll expand upon this later but the format of WC Tonight didn’t suit her. Andrew touched upon this earlier and I wouldn’t go as far as what he said but she seemed out of place being not only the ‘moderator’ (for lack of a better term) of the program but voicing highlights in a wrap-up show format where you need context, context, context. When I compare her to say Mike Tirico (a non football guy) who occasionally hosted WC Tonight last year for ESPN, he did a far better job handling discussion with a wider group of analysts.
    – WC Today Panel: I didn’t mind the main panel FOX had for their match coverage with Stone, Smith, Lalas, Mitts & Hingst (maybe it’s because Lalas kept yelling at me while banging his hand on the desk). However I much prefer what ESPN did by having different analysts for every game they covered. Yes they had a wider group of analysts to enable them to do that but there’s no reason why FOX couldn’t have one or two of the ‘main panel’ whilst having different analysts such as Monica Gonzalez that were ‘regulated’ to WC Tonight being part of the main coverage. That way the viewer could hear a wider range of opinions and perspectives they didn’t get just having the same group of people on.
    – Commentators: I won’t discuss this at great length because it’s been touched upon heavily by many people above in different ways. What I will say is that I found the three person booth to work really well with JP being the central main man while letting DiCicco and Whitehill’s contrasting views balance out. On the other hand there were commentators like Justin Kutcher which weren’t as good as FOX’s two main commentators in JP and John Strong.

    Negatives:
    – Eric Wynalda: Anyone who watched WC Tonight for longer than five minutes would have saw the tension he had with his other panelists and Abdo. It was quite extraordinary to watch night-after-night the disdain the other panelists seemingly had for him and at times Abdo rolling her eyes at things he were saying. To make things worse, he rarely added any insights or perspectives that were interesting or useful. For example during the Three Stars Special on Monday, he was more interested offering champagne to USWNT members he was interviewing than setting up questions/topics that would give the viewer an insight into how they were feeling breaking a long-standing WWC drought. I’m sure he’s a decent guy but he’s just doesn’t stack up as a great football analyst when you compare him to say another American football analyst in Kyle Martino and what he brings to the table on NBC’s EPL coverage.
    – Fox Sports 2: Partly this is FOX’s fault and partly this is the fault of cable providers (both Dish and DirecTV offer FS2 in HD). Nonetheless, this needs to be addressed in the next few years before 2018 where it seems some World Cup games will be shown on the channel. There will be significant outrage if by then people can’t watch some WC games because a) They don’t get FS2 with their provider or their provider doesn’t provide access to FS2 (*cough* Comcast) or b) FS2 isn’t available in HD. If the problem can’t be fixed, put the games on FX – a more widely distributed network which was used for Fox Sports content before FS1 was introduced.
    – Poor Decision Making: I know this is a broad theme but it’s something which hampered FOX’s coverage at times. Two examples:
    * Abdo was originally signed by FOX to be the daytime presenter of games while Stone would handle primetime games. For some unknown reason apart from the 1st day, Abdo was ‘regulated’ to hosting WC Tonight where her full range of skills couldn’t be properly utilized. I reckon Abdo would have shined if we saw her presenting matches like her original role intended her to. Plus it would have reduced Stone’s workload considering he’s now hosting FOX’s Gold Cup coverage and likely will also present some of their International Champions Cup games as well.
    * Discussion about Hope Solo: The issue was handled extremely badly in the first few days of FOX’s coverage following ESPN revealed new info about Solo’s domestic abuse case. You had analysts like Wynalda and Leslie Osborne outright dismissing why the issue was being brought up yet alone discussed (http://awfulannouncing.com/2015/fox-sports-shamelessly-carries-water-hope-solo.html). That is unforgivable not only from a journalistic but credibility POV. Whether a WC broadcaster likes it or not, you have to handle and discuss major issues and controversies that surround a team or arise during a WC. It’s one thing to cover the games, the teams and the players which most broadcasters can do. It’s another thing to handle off-field issues and talking points which come up. That separates the outstanding broadcasters from the okay ones. Yes Fox had Grant Wahl to cover stories and do features (which he did a great job at) but the way they handled the Solo issued damaged their journalistic credibility.

    Ultimately the success of FOX’s WWC coverage should be judged on whether the coverage built a solid foundation which can be improved upon for future World Cups. In that regard, the coverage should be seen as a success. FOX got the balance right between keeping games for FS1 and giving the competition a greater amount of FTA exposure through the main FOX network. They found two solid hosts who with the right role and some improvement will do a better job in Russia if FOX decides to use them. Not to mention they got a graphical package and a features department that should become a template for how their future FIFA coverage should be presented. The thing for FOX now is in the many football properties they have (eg; Champions League, Bundesliga, 2017 Confederations Cup, etc) to start introducing and ‘playing around’ (to a degree, not Gus Johnson level) with things they could implement for their 2018 WC coverage. I’m mostly talking about introducing new analysts and voices which FOX could start getting viewers used to if they’re thinking about utilizing them. A good place to start if they were thinking about using talent from their sister network Sky Sports is their Champions League coverage seeing BT Sport now has those rights in the UK.

  3. Tim

    July 8, 2015 at 9:46 am

    Oh man this will get all you Euro posers who are so in love with accents in “tiff”.

    http://awfulannouncing.com/2015/american-soccer-won-in-more-ways-than-one-at-the-2015-world-cup.html

    • Realest Realist

      July 8, 2015 at 10:50 am

      Why are you so upset, beloved?

  4. Kobashi

    July 7, 2015 at 10:39 pm

    I’d like to see FOX adopt CBS/Turner & ESPN’S megacast model during the semi-finals and final of the 18/22 World Cups. What I’d like to see is FOX offering the game on their OTA network and FS1. They could have the #1 USA announce based team do the call on one network and the #1 international crew call the game on the other network. FOX can promote it as their two top broadcast teams are team 1 and 1A and give fans an option to listen to an American style broadcast and an International style broadcast.

    Turner has been offering home broadcasts of the NCAA Hoops Semi and Final the past few years while CBS broadcasts the neutral call. ABC/ESPN did the same thing with the NCAA Football National Championship Game the past couple of years.

    It would give FOX a way to build up their #1 US based team and would allow them to attract one of the top Brit game callers and analysts from around the world giving fans a choice of what kind of broadcast they’d like to watch. FS1/FS2 need eyeballs and offering an differently produced World Cup game has been shown to be successful by CBS/Turner/ABC/ESPN of big events. ABC/ESPN are simulcasting a NFL Wild Card game this January. I’d like to see FOX explore this strategy for their World Cup coverage.

    I think FOX is going to go insane how they cover the 2018 tournament in terms of tonnage. The coverage will be pulled back a bit in 2022 because of the move to December because of Qatar due to the sports calender being packed in the States when the tournament is set to play. In 2026 I’d expect even more coverage than 2018 since they were rewarded the extra tournament due to the winter move in 2022 and because of the growth of the sport year to year.

    I’m in the camp that I wished the Cup stayed w/ESPN because it is the standard in sports broadcasting here and how they have presented the sport since Euro 2008. That said I didn’t hate FOX’s coverage of soccer as they were the ones that stepped to the forefront and broadcasted the sport wall to wall when no one else would touch it. I fully expect more around the clock coverage of the coming World Cups than what we’ve ever seen before.

  5. Andrew

    July 7, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    Honestly, covering the tournament from afar and in person in Vancouver, I thought only Ariane Hingst, John Strong and Kelly Smith were by far the only standouts.

    On both praise for Abdo and Gonzalez, I find that baffling. Gonzalez was incredibly bias and let her emotions judge her overall big knowledge of the game once again. She said that Mexico would advance without a doubt from their group and even went as to say that they would win 3-0 against Colombia. She also was adamant that Lady Andrade would be taught a lesson by the US (she wasn’t) and said that she wasn’t acting like her name.

    Gonzalez, from what I heard inside, really made things awkward for the set especially when Mexico lost 5-0 to France. She couldn’t just be objective and professional about Mexico’s performance and was shielded by FOX that entire day because of how dejected and negative she was by their display. She even complained during the nightly show on that day on her co-workers imitating the Norway selfie, making it really uncomfortable and awkward. That’s as egregious as it gets and represented a fundamental problem with Fox’s coverage, which was the constant bias “homerism” that really needs to go in American broadcasting. It’s why Hingst and Kelly Smith stood out even more for me, because they could put their biases to the side and still do a terrific job. I also thought Christine Latham, despite annoying her former Canadian teammates, did a great job of also being objective about her country.

    On Abdo, she had a lot of moments of awkward dead space and didn’t have that much knowledge of many teams at the tournament. She would rarely control the discussion and be a bystander to constant chatter instead of injecting new ideas and thoughts in the discussion. Abdo never mentioned at all during the tournament and especially in the knockout stages how Germany were without the services of Nadine Kessler. That simply would never be omitted if Lionel Messi were out.

    When it came to highlights, Abdo never adjusted from the normal Sky Sports presenter role of filling even information on the highlights, something that was a total rookie mistake and not adjusting on the fly. That was most evident when it wasn’t US or big team highlights, and why she was just relegated to the nightly show instead of splitting daily activities with Stone. Though she is a little better than Kay Murray, Abdo is also behind Lowe.

  6. Bryan

    July 7, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    Watching Lalas and Wynalda during the Three-Star special was to see why they are loathed. Lalas shouted through some highlights like a braying jackass, then told Julie Johnston that “I fell in love with you” during the WC. Yuck. And Wynalda was at his most creepy, forcing champagne on one exhausted, sleep-deprived player after another. Most of them turned it down- they were probably concerned there might be a roofie in it.

    I also second the opinion that there is never a need for three announcers for a soccer game. Too many mouths.

  7. Jon

    July 7, 2015 at 11:55 am

    There are three years prior to the next major tournament (two if counting the Confederations Cup). Ratings will be down due to the time difference (obviously).

    Seeing Eric Wynalda on the Three-Star Special is the exact reason why he needs to be let go. He adds nothing and most tune out or don’t watch whenever he’s on TV (read Awful Announcing or Richard Deitsch from SI if you need a critic’s view of Wynalda).

    Rob Stone should be relegated to Kate Abdo’s position and Kate Abdo should’ve been promoted. Georgie Thompson, with her experience, would probably be a better host for all FOX soccer than Stone.

    No need for Dr. Joe in a broadcast (especially game broadcast).

    The game commentators for FOX are the weak link. Letting the game breathe and having the right timing is absent. Justin Kutcher messed up several times with basic player identification and John Strong is not a lead announcer.

    But it’s FOX. Being third-rate is expected.

  8. Tim

    July 7, 2015 at 7:21 am

    JP, Wynalda, Lalas and Stone are great for AMERICAN soccer and there are many who love them. Leave it to the readers of WST to find the negative in everything. This game is broadcast in AMERICA remember? Of course you guys want the broadcasts to be more British. You’re the reason this country does not adopt this more outside of the world cup.

    • Flyvanescence

      July 7, 2015 at 12:26 pm

      When you explain to me what is actually good about Lalas other than his American-ness, i might take you seriously. He is terrible and gives incredibly shallow analysis. Is that what you want the standard for American soccer to be? Dumbed-down argumentativeness?

      Same goes for JP. I dont care how long he has been doing it, he is terrible. Tell me what is good about his commentating.

      And before you just slap the Eurosnob label on me, ill give you an example of an American studio analyst who i really enjoy: Kyle Martino; and an American commentator who i think is decent: Phil Schoen (and John Strong).

      And there are plenty of British analysts nearly as bad as Lalas. See Stan Collymore. And almost everybody else who works for Talksport.

      • Tim

        July 7, 2015 at 2:00 pm

        When you can explain why they are not good but yet still have jobs and are still loved in American soccer circles, maybe ill think of you more than some Euro wana be poser who thinks everything is better with an accent. Oh and you already know you’re a eurosnob. I dont have to tell you that.

        • Realest Realist

          July 7, 2015 at 3:22 pm

          When in doubt, just drop the “Eurosnob” line. ‘Murica fan mentality in a nutshell right there.

          The only reason they still have jobs and are still “loved” in American soccer circles is that there are no other options out there. They’re not analysts and “experts” as much as they’re paid trolls. Seriously, there are people out there who think they’re a net positive and a value-add to American soccer? I truly despair.

        • Mike

          July 7, 2015 at 10:17 pm

          U can drop the Eurosnob nonsense with me. Born and raised in NY.

          It’s a British game dude. Just like baseball is American, hurling is Irish, etc. Doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it. The accent is only incidental to the fact that the game is a religion in the UK.
          Like I’ve said many times here: if baseball ever catches on in the UK, they would be wise to pick our brains, including using Buck, Costas, Al Michaels et al., whenever possible. Get over your uber-Americanization of soccer. Especially Wynalda pouring Alex Morgan a glass of champagne and telling her she’s better than Mia Hamm.

    • Realest Realist

      July 7, 2015 at 12:58 pm

      If you believe that Wynalda and Lalas are great for the American soccer culture, then I’ve some oceanfront property in Cheyenne to sell you.

      Those two are complete wastes of space.

  9. Casey G

    July 7, 2015 at 12:03 am

    When it came to pre and post game, Monica Gonzalez and Kate Abdo were not surprisingly the only standouts because they actually arent employed by FOX.

    Rob Stone is Trash, Wynalda even bigger trash and Lalas the biggest piece of trash. but we all knew that before this tournament.

    I expect more of the same mediocrity, terrible presenting and useless commentary for the 2018 World Cup and 2019 Womens World Cup, because thats what I always expect from FOX.

  10. kreg

    July 6, 2015 at 9:11 pm

    i was very disappointed with the announcers. Too much blatant bias to one team or the other, and not just the USA. Also, hearing terms such as “she’s driving the baseline” and “she played her college ball at….” makes it sound like the commentator has no clue what sport they are watching. Speaking of watching… they should do a lot more watching, and a lot less talking.

  11. Seth Israel

    July 6, 2015 at 8:44 pm

    More goal analysis is warranted. For example, when Carlie Lloyed scored the first goal from a set piece. It clear design set piece. The Japan team were waiting for an over the top corner kick. When the corner kick trick the Japan team as U.S. kick the corner on the ground creating space for Carlie to kick it in. The Japan team stood their confused expecting air over the top cross by air caught them ball watching.

    • Realest Realist

      July 7, 2015 at 12:54 pm

      Commentators, by nature, have to cater to the casual fans (aka about 95% of the audience) for games like these. As far as they’re concerned, a full RAH RAH MERICA moment would have sufficed after any one of the goals.

  12. Smokey Bacon

    July 6, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    Hopefully Fox have learned from this experience. Clearly they benefitted from a U.S. win, and a spectacular one at that, but overall their coverage was impressive. Put a decent product out there and people will tune in and that in turn keeps the advertisers happy.

    Kate Abdo was outstanding and every bit as polished as Rebecca. They should sign her up for the next World Cup. I thought the pundits were fine. Kelly Smith the pick of the bunch.

    The major issue for me remains the commentary. JP did alright but the two co commentators were awful. John Strong is still a work in progress and not ready for the big time. It was great to hear Jonathan Pearce of the BBC call that England own goal. That was proper commentary, his reaction capturing the moment perfectly. The poor Fox announcers barely knew it was a goal.

    Rob Stone is a weak link but he doesn’t bother me like he does you. His job is just to link things together. Leave the analysis to the others. Lalas continues to be a total buffoon. His outburst before the game on Sunday was embarrassing. Just look at Kelly Smiths face. WTF.

    I’m glad Barton was nowhere to be seen. He is another one who has no place being on TV. The most pleasant surprise was Wynalda. He seemed relaxed, prepared and I enjoyed his contribution which was a refreshing change and in contrast to Lalas’ clown act.

    All in all, job well done Fox. Keep it up! Based on the viewing figures, Fox’s coverage did as much for soccer in this country as ESPN in 2010 and 2014. That’s the biggest compliment I can pay them.

    • Mike

      July 7, 2015 at 1:03 am

      The viewing figures and the quality of Fox’s coverage have nothing to do with each other. If Gus Johnson had broadcast the final it still would have drawn 25 million viewers, only they would need therapy after the match.

      • Smokey Bacon

        July 7, 2015 at 6:16 am

        That’s my point. People who tuned in likely enjoyed it more than they would if it had been GJ, robots and NFL music.

  13. J.C.

    July 6, 2015 at 3:48 pm

    I didn’t watch one second of anything with Eric Wynalda throughout the tournament (FFW thru any segment with him on set or didn’t watch period). That’s a fact I’m proud of.

    Kate Abdo is a stronger presenter than Rob Stone, just as Rebecca Lowe is stronger for football than a Mike Tirico (Bob Ley is a push). It’s too much flag-waving by FOX (U.S.), at times, and others it seems like FOX will just do things to be different (see Gus Johnson).

    Having British match commentators isn’t a bad thing, if they’re the best (listen to Laura Bassett’s OG from the Brits vs. what FOX did).

    Few changes I’d like prior to 2018 would be to get rid of Wynalda, Justin Kutcher and Dr. Joe. Keep John Strong and JP.

    Game ratings shouldn’t be the only measure, since I’m almost certain the bumper programming was barely watched since they add nothing.

    • Mike

      July 7, 2015 at 10:26 pm

      Kutcher is obsessive-compiulsive about alerting us whenever there is a throw in or a goal kick even when it’s patently obvious.
      His real career goals are similar to Stone (move on to something bigger and better and more lucrative).
      Kutcher has some some NFL small market games and got some scathing reviews (u can google it).
      He also sounds like Chip Caray’s twin brother.

  14. nickp91

    July 6, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    JP Dellacamera, Arlo White, Doc Emrick are the absolute best at what they do

    • Mike

      July 7, 2015 at 12:58 am

      What’s good about JP? Reallly? Because he’s been around 30 years = therefore he’s the best? Always sounds like he’s doing hockey on the radio. And the expressions “goin’ long” “end line/sideline” etc. I don’t expect him to have the exact style of Tyler, Darke, Champion, etc., but JP, could u at least listen to these guys and let something rub off? Strong and DiCicco was the way to go or Strong and Kelly Smith or any Sky commentator (Daniel Mann) paired with DiCicco.

      • Tim

        July 7, 2015 at 7:16 am

        Just give him an accent and all “authentic football” fans will be happy.

        • Kei

          July 7, 2015 at 12:49 pm

          Or, ya know, he could have stopped trying to call a hockey or a football game in the middle of a soccer match years ago. But alas…

        • murica

          July 7, 2015 at 1:20 pm

          The accent has nothing to do with it that just makes you sound ignorant. So tired of this argument. We don’t need commentators that call the game like its on the radio.

          • JACK

            July 10, 2015 at 9:54 pm

            UM, XM radio was carrying the Fox Sports TV feed as their radio broadcast. SO they DID need to call it as if it was on radio, because indeed it was.

        • Kobashi

          July 7, 2015 at 9:38 pm

          Tyler, Darke, Champion, Drury, Rae, and Banyard are all poets who know how to turn a phrase when the moment calls for it.

          JP is an American play by play guy.

  15. John

    July 6, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    I have to strongly disagree and call out Christopher’s take on “the Trio.” DiCicco made it unbearable to listen!

    Viewers really don’t need or even want to hear what Tony did to develop a particular player in the past or how he would line the team up.

    You shouldn’t get a pat on the back for having 3 commentators when 2 of them were used to balance off DiCicco’s abrasiveness and all about him commentary.

  16. francis

    July 6, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    Fox coverage was definitely better than expected. Sure, the match announcers were mostly crap, but bear in mind the women’s footy demographic is a bit different from the men’s – more teen girls and soccer moms – and they are OK with all that rah-rah girl power nonsense. I’m sure Fox will have top-notch commentators for 2018

  17. Rick

    July 6, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    Coverage was very good but FOX needs a highlight show similar to Match of the Day- give the viewers a 10 minute highlight summary of each game instead of the hosts talking all the time.

  18. Michael

    July 6, 2015 at 11:37 am

    Lalas could make my beer league match analysis interesting.

    • Flyvanescence

      July 6, 2015 at 12:50 pm

      Lalas’ understanding of the game is about beer league level.

  19. annoyingracoon01

    July 6, 2015 at 11:23 am

    Dr.Joe drove me crazy.
    “Here’s our rules analyst Dr. Joe Machnik”
    *A graphic goes up saying that they are talking to Dr. Joe Machnik*
    “Thank you Dr.Joe. Dr. Joe Machnik our rules expert”
    They literally say his name 5 times in the 30 seconds they talk to him and sometimes I thought that his input was wrong. All you need is a good co-commentator to comment on calls.

  20. Matt Blanton

    July 6, 2015 at 11:21 am

    Some of you are being waay too nice. Perhaps because of the fine feelings a world cup win can bring. I though it was some of the worst commentary I’ve ever heard. When Rapinoe came off in what was likely her last game and the crowd stood there in unanimous standing ovation, THE COMMENTATORS SAID NOTHING!? Did not even mention her name or why the crowd was standing in ovation AT ALL! There were numerous instances like that, that literally left me scratching my head. It is embarrassing to me that we have such a shoddy level of commentary in the world cup final. Funny thing, when the British female commentators spoke, they were brilliant. Embarassing.

    • annoyingracoon01

      July 6, 2015 at 11:26 am

      I actually thought that the commentators were horrible. Except for John Strong. There were a couple botched calls throughout the tournament, but overall i’d rather listen to JP over Gus.

    • Mike E

      July 6, 2015 at 3:40 pm

      Agree with Matt- the coverage was as bad as their US open coverage. No real analysis during the game, no relevant commentary during breaks. And the Post Game was the worst!! Some of the stars for the US played their last game yesterday. No mention of career highlights etc. And who were the preseters!? They may as well had Joe Buck announcing again…Terrible.

  21. strongbad

    July 6, 2015 at 11:09 am

    Im not who controls the cameras, Fox, FIFA, Stadium?

    But throughout the tournament it was quite annoying for the feed to cut to a replay of a miss or something and then have them switch back to the actual game where we’ve missed a several seconds of play and the ball is already way up the field.

    • Christopher Harris

      July 6, 2015 at 11:11 am

      That would have been HBS — Host Broadcast Services — who are responsible for the match video and replays. FOX has no control over that unfortunately.

      • annoyingracoon01

        July 6, 2015 at 11:28 am

        Did ESPN use the FIFA feed? I know that ESPN had their own scorebug, but did they just put it on top of the FIFA one?

        • Christopher Harris

          July 6, 2015 at 11:35 am

          ESPN used HBS, yes.

  22. Tony Butterworth

    July 6, 2015 at 10:34 am

    Totally agree on Warren Barton and Dr Joe.

    I think including the lack of highlights in the final as a tournament con was pretty reactionary. I enjoyed mostly staying with the onfield stuff, which is what we all ask for, and had any number of ways to see the goals.

    I think Lalas is an argumentative ass, he just talks to get reactions and is not entertaining.

  23. Lawrence Dockery

    July 6, 2015 at 10:23 am

    “Dr.” Joe is terible. LOTG illiterate.

  24. Tim

    July 6, 2015 at 10:14 am

    I thought the coverage was great. I know its what you are supposed to be doing by breaking it down but overall I feel that they will be just fine in 2018. Yes this is my opion as well but I enjoy Rob Stone.

  25. Marcus Antonius

    July 6, 2015 at 10:08 am

    Fox learned form ESPN (after ESPN learned from itself) and it showed. I have no complaints about their coverage of the Women’s World Cup. It was top notch.

  26. Kei

    July 6, 2015 at 10:03 am

    I thought Ariane Hingst lowkey stole the show in the analysts’ table throughout the tournament, tbh. Felt she was really the only one on the set who called it like she saw it, regardless of which two teams were playing.

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