With so much attention focused on FOX’s coverage of the Women’s World Cup this summer, it’s important that we not neglect the hard work and great expense beIN SPORTS embarked on in its coverage of the 2015 Copa America, which resulted in 1.5 million tuning in for the final as well as millions more watching the games from the other rounds of the competition.
Here are some of our highs and lows of beIN SPORTS’ coverage of the tournament:
1. Detailed coverage
The quantity and quality of post-match analysis of key moments from the Copa America games were leap years ahead of what we’re accustomed to seeing on FOX, ESPN or NBC. With beIN SPORTS’ focus being solely on Copa America, it allowed the panel of experts to dissect the most minute detail and spend what seemed like as much time as they’d like analyzing the incidents.
For example, it wasn’t unusual to see post-match replays of the same incident being shown more than a handful of times as the analysts gave their opinions. Plus, there weren’t the feverish endings to shows that we’re used to seeing on other networks, as presenters try to hurry and tie up all of the loose ends before a new program begins.
Overall, it was refreshing to see and hear the detailed analysis that allowed the experts to formulate a range of opinions.
2. The experts
The two stand-out stars for me were Ruud Gullit and Juan Pablo Angel. Gullit was able to offer analysis that got straight to the point without the filler or cliches were hear elsewhere. He’s also intelligent, well spoken and can be good humored when he needs to be.
Angel was very thought provoking in his analysis, offering excellent insight and was a breath of fresh air. The only issue was, at times, his accent made it difficult to understand him, but those were so seldom that it wasn’t a major issue.
3. beIN SPORTS’ cameras in Chile
While the match footage was provided by the host broadcaster in Chile, beIN SPORTS made the wise decision to supplement its coverage with its own camera crew at some of the games. The best example of how much of a payoff this was for the network was when beIN SPORTS’ cameras were the only one to clearly pick up the unsavory incident between Uruguay’s Edinson Cavani and Chile’s Gonzalo Jara. The footage from the host broadcaster didn’t show the same camera angle that beIN SPORTS had. It was only after watching the beIN SPORTS camera footage that there was conclusive evidence regarding what actually happened.
4. Having announcers in Chile
Whether you like Ray Hudson and Phil Schoen or not, full credit needs to go to beIN SPORTS for making the wise decision to send the commentary duo to Chile to announce the Copa America semi-final and final. Having commentators at a stadium is almost always a positive during games, but there are often tangential benefits such as announcers having a greater understanding of what it means to the country and its people that can only be learned by experiencing it themselves on the streets. Hearing those anecdotes is what often makes commentaries even more visceral.
5. The studio
beIN SPORTS’ studio looked like something from outer space. Visually, it was a joy to see. But it was also practical. Even with several of the talent scattered in different areas of the studio, the design of it made the viewer feel as if they were all working together as a team. The hand offs from one crew to another were seamless, and we could see them doing it, which made the broadcast feel unique.
1. Richard Keys and Andy Gray
I realize that Keys and Gray are “lapdogs” for beIN SPORTS given that they are the face of the network in Doha, but their past digressions, which were embarrassing, disgusting and sexist, cannot be forgotten.
It’s a shame, therefore, that beIN SPORTS decided to put those two men as the “face” of its Copa America coverage. They couldn’t have picked two worse people. Keys couldn’t even pronounce the names of some of his beIN SPORTS colleagues correctly, was too Euro-centric, wasn’t an expert on South American soccer nor did he do a convincing job as the main presenter. On top of that, he was too self congratulatory, even saying on-air “You’re watching the mighty beIN SPORTS, broadcasting to the world.” Broadcasting to the world, yes it was. Mighty? Says who?
Gray is nowhere near his best as an analysis. He comes off as a know-it-all, and is too forceful at times when giving an opinion (which seems to send the message to other analysts to “shut up and don’t even try to debate me on this.”) Plus I noticed that on several occasions, one of his colleagues would make a good point but then he would paraphrase the same point and try to pass it off as his own analysis.
Whenever Keys and Gray were on the show, it held back the coverage in my opinion.
2. Off-mic remarks
This happened too many times to be ignored, but there were several occasions during the tournament where you could hear off-mic remarks by the analysts either as they were going to break or coming back from break. It wasn’t damaging, but it definitely didn’t sound professional.
3. On-screen ads during games
A pet peeve of mine is seeing banner ads taking up the screen during games. It’s one thing to have a small graphic at the top of the screen, but when the advertising takes up almost a half of the screen during the match, it takes the viewer away from the experience. TV companies don’t need to resort to this form of in-your-face advertising. It’s counterproductive and leaves a bad taste in the mouth of the viewer to the network and advertiser.
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