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Leagues: Champions League

Who Turner Sports should hire for Champions League TV coverage

Turner Sports’ coverage of the UEFA Champions League and Europa League won’t launch until August 2018, so the sports network has plenty of time to execute its plan to bring the world’s number one soccer club competition into the homes of viewers across the United States.

While FOX Sports certainly improved the quantity of UEFA Champions League coverage in the United States by making every game available between TV and streaming, Turner Sports now has the opportunity to raise the bar on the quality.

While we don’t know yet what Turner Sports’ vision is for how they’ll cover the Champions League and Europa League from the 2018/19 to 2020/21 seasons, they still have plenty of time to start drafting a short list of talent to interview and hire as soccer experts for their TV coverage.

If Turner Sports plays their cards right, the timing of Turner’s launch of the Champions League in August 2018 couldn’t be better…  just weeks after the 2018 FIFA World Cup ends. Turner has the opportunity to ride the wave of increased soccer interest thanks to the World Cup and start weaving the storylines about many of those major World Cup stars playing in the UEFA Champions League.

Based on our extensive experience of watching soccer as well as understanding the interests of soccer fans in the United States, here are our suggestions on who Turner Sports should consider.

Two caveats before I dive into the list below. One, rather than suggesting an all-star list of all of the best hosts, presenters and commentators from around the world, most of whom would not be available, I’ve assembled a list of talent that could be more readily available and also a better fit for the US network. Two, the talent names suggested below are based on their level of expertise. Their accent has no bearing on my recommendations. The list compiles, in my opinion, the best talent that’s most likely to be available.

Studio hosts

The person to lead Turner’s UEFA Champions League coverage will be the face of the soccer coverage. It’s incredibly vital that Turner Sports hires someone who is not only well versed in the sport, but has the charisma to hold the viewer’s attention as well as the intelligence to ask the studio analysts those tough questions. That person I suggest is John Dykes.

For viewers in the United States, many soccer fans will know him as the voice behind the successful Goal Rush program on the NBC Sports App. Plus, his career has provided him outstanding experience at Premier League Productions, ESPN Star Sport and Super Sport. Wherever he’s been in Asia or Africa, he’s been a big hit. From personal experience while traveling abroad, I’ve been very impressed by the way he carries himself on the Premier League Matchday Live broadcasts on weekends. For example, here’s one clip of his work:


JDSTUDIOHOST from John Dykes on Vimeo.

At the same time, hosting both the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League can be a taxing job especially when there are concurrent games happening. To alleviate the load slightly and to have someone available as a back-up when needed, I would suggest that Ian Joy from FOX Sports would be the perfect person to fill the role. On FOX Sports’ Bundesliga coverage, he commanded himself well under the spotlight as the host of the broadcasts. Plus, he’s versatile enough where he can also be used as a studio analyst and co-commentator when needed, too.

If Turner Sports is interested in acquiring other soccer rights, as we’ve heard through the grapevine that they are, having someone like Ian Joy available in addition to John Dykes would be a smart hire.

Lead commentator team

As we’ve seen from NBC Sports, having announcers at the stadium elevates the coverage to the next level. My suggestion would be for Turner Sports to use the world-feed commentaries for the vast majority of the Champions League and Europa League games, but to hire commentator Derek Rae and co-commentator Danny Higginbotham to call the standout matches where Turner Sports wants to have their own talent in the stadium.

With Rae and Higginbotham both living and working in Europe, it would be relatively easy to have them continue doing their weekend work for their respective broadcasters as well as tackling one midweek Champions League or Europa League game for Turner Sports.

Turner Sports needs to have a presence at these stadiums, and both Rae and Higginbotham are at the top of their professions as well as being scholars of the sport.

Studio analysts

In FOX Sports’ coverage of the UEFA Champions League, their most consistent pitfall was (and continues to be) the way that their studio talent fails to elevate the conversation about the game. Currently, their level of analysis is on the same par with the tens of soccer podcasts and talk radio shows you can hear across the Internet. As a result, the viewer scarcely gets any clear insight that helps to move the conversation along. All you get is babble.

Part of the issue with that is the lack of thought-provoking questions from the host. But it’s also a mix of FOX Sports having too many talking heads on the set where none of them can get more than 20 seconds of opinions in before another one interjects.

I say all of this as background because it’ll help underline why I suggest the following soccer experts be hired for the UEFA Champions League studio analysis. They are Taylor Twellman, Janusz Michallik and Craig Burley. Not surprisingly, all of them have worked (or continue to work) at ESPN. But each of the analysts is an expert in European soccer and has strong opinions and analysis that will help create a much more valuable experience for the viewer at home.

If Twellman is unavailable due to his contract with ESPN (presumably until after Euro 2020), Turner Sports needs to consider hiring Eric Wynalda as a studio analyst. That is, however, with one caveat. Wynalda needs to be given a little more freedom to be himself and to share his honest opinions. Too many times on the FOX broadcasts of UEFA Champions League, Wynalda has been “held back” by his colleagues where he’s unable to give his vision as a soccer coach and player. When he’s forced into giving a soundbite, the broadcast misses out on the opinions and clarity that he sees that many other analysts miss.

Turner Sports has plenty of time to start executing its plan to hit the ground running with its UEFA Champions League coverage in August, 2018. Having said that, it’s never too early to start laying the groundwork for the talent and vision of how to make this prestigious soccer property a bigger and more valuable success.

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83 Comments

83 Comments

  1. Oliver Tse

    May 23, 2017 at 1:41 am

    Before anyone posts any more names, one needs to remember the following:

    You need to THINK like a media executive, not like a fan.

    I have interacted with media executives (both production and sales executives) for 22 years, having run soccerTV.com from 1995 through the end of 2007, and having run an agency in 2006-2009 that represented poker players and television talent (including one female Spanish-speaking sportscaster who had a 27-year career as host, anchor, and play-by-play announcer including soccer before she switched to poker.)

    By observing these executives, I have picked up enough to understand how they think and how they hire talent.

    There are at least 3 executives who will ultimately have to sign off on any talent hire for the UEFA on truTV (or HLN, or digital over-the-top):

    – Turner Sports Executive Vice President and Chief Content Officer Craig Barry

    – Turner Sports Chief Operating Officer Matthew Hong

    – CNN head of sports content Bill Galvin (for a talent who will have to work at both CNN International and Turner Sports in order to have enough work days to stitch together a full time staff contract)

    Once you identify these executives, you have to research their histories of how they think and how they have hired talent in the past for niche sports TV projects with similar viewership as UEFA on truTV.

    We know that Mr. Hong is a Harvard Law School graduate who was in charge of NBA TV prior to his promotion to COO. NBA TV is run on a very tight budget, with affordable studio talent (such as Dennis “3D” Scott, a former journeyman NBA player who attended Georgia Tech) and with the use of regional sports network audio feeds instead of its own announcers on site.

    If you were to put yourself in Mr. Hong’s shoes, then a candidate such as new Atlanta United (MLS) match analyst/co-commentator Dan Gargan would likely be your #1 choice for one of the studio pundit roles, not because Mr. Gargan is the best pundit available in the market, but because Mr. Hong would get the “most bang for the buck” by hiring someone such as Mr. Gargan. Mr. Gargan already lives in Atlanta and would cost Turner Sports less than half what a candidate with much more name recognition, such as Jermaine Jones or anyone in the pool of Los Angeles-based pundits who are already working for FOX Sports, such as Eric Wynalda or Ian Joy, would cost.

    I have written earlier about how Mr. Galvin thinks. He hired Kate Riley to replace Lara Baldesarra in June 2015 (instead of hiring another candidate such as Rhiannon Jones.) One would be very surprised if Mr. Galvin were willing to sign off on the idea of pushing someone as talented and as hard-working as Ms. Riley out of CNN in order to make room for Turner Broadcasting to hire someone else from the outside to be a combination of UEFA on truTV studio host and CNN International World Sport anchor. The most cost-effective option, assuming that Ms. Riley were able to ace her interviewers and her audition with the likes of Mr. Barry and Mr. Hong, would be for Turner Broadcasting to restructure Ms. Riley’s contract so that she would have enough work available, including hosting UEFA on truTV.

    You must also consider economic conditions. You should have figured out by now that 2017 is 1999 all over again, with the Federal Reserve Bank finally getting serious in slowing down a ridiculously overheated economy by raising interest rates to tighten money supply.

    If you live in a market with extreme labor supply/demand swings caused by the presence of venture capital, such as New York or San Francisco-San Jose, you will have first-hand experience how ridiculously overheated the economy has become.

    In San Francisco, literally anyone who has a pulse and is willing to work is working multiple jobs (I am now working for 5 different companies and I have not taken a day off without any work since April 11. My next day off with no work scheduled is June 8, but that could change very quickly.)

    What will economic conditions be like in August 2018-June 2021, when UEFA on truTV will be on the air?

    Remember what the economic conditions were like in August 2000-June 2003, after the stock market corrected in April 2000 and venture capital money dried up?

    The unemployment rate shot up as one venture-backed company after another went out of business (including Women’s United Soccer Association, which was mismanaged to the point where it allegedly burned up between $60 million and $100 million in venture capital money before the first ball was kicked.)

    Advertising rates for television programs, including live sports, plummeted.

    Some sports teams (including 2 MLS clubs in Miami and Tampa) went out of business.

    MLS could not get a rights fee deal and had to barter for time on Saturday afternoons at 4-6pm ET on ESPN2, in exchange for MLS’ marketing arm, Soccer United Marketing, actually buying U.S. English-language rights to World Cups 2002-2006 and buying time on ESPN and ABC.

    Both U.S. domestic TV networks spun off from CNN, namely CNN/Sports Illustrated (CNNSI) and CNN Financial Network (CNNfn), folded.

    If you were running Turner Sports (i.e. Mr. Barry, Mr. Hong, or Turner Sports President Lenny Daniels), you would need to anticipate very challenging economy conditions in August 2018-June 2021 before you make production personnel decision for UEFA on truTV. That means very tight production costs such as using world feeds for every match.. That means no unnecessary expenses such as travel to fly talent in from Los Angeles or London when Atlanta-based freelance talent (such as Dan Gargan) is available at an affordable rate.

    • Cantona

      May 23, 2017 at 7:27 am

      Again…. more bullsh!t speculation from self proclaimed “insider, but im not an insider”. Spouting the same speculation held together with baseless facts. I love how you throw out names googled from Bloomberg and make it seem YOU know how an executive thinks. MEGAPLONKER

      You have crept out of your hole after the embarrasment of your “predictions” that never materialized from your BigSoccer days. This is the same vaporspeak we all have heard before.

      Come back with hard facts the next time you post instead of your nonsensical rants.

      Cantona—

      • Oliver Tse

        June 9, 2017 at 2:33 am

        Yet another person who must live a very miserable life, if all he has to look forward to each day when he wakes up is for an opportunity to attack a noboby like me in the comments section of a tiny website.

        There is a method to my madness, and I have been using my techniques for 25 years. Too bad you haven’t figured out why I do what I do yet.

        The 3 names I suspect the likes of Turner Sports COO Matthew Hong and Turner Sports EVP/Chief Content Officer Craig Barry will talk to first to staff up the UEFA on truTV studio show, based on plenty of information I can observe from the way Matthew Hong runs NBA TV (which is operated by Turner Sports under contract with the NBA, with a very tight production budget) and the way Craig Barry runs the ELEAGUE video gaming TV project for Turner Sports (who hired on-camera talent for ELEAGUE exclusively from the world of video gaming a.k.a. ESports, including British video gaming journalist Richard Lewis and a rotating cast of video gaming pundits who call video game fighting matches the way MMA pundits would call MMA matches.):

        1. CNN International World Sport anchor Kate Riley (but only after Mr. Hong and Mr. Barry contact CNN Head of Sports Content Bill Galvin, who hired Ms. Riley in June 2015)

        2. Atlanta United (MLS) Technical Director Carlos Bocanegra (but only after Mr. Hong and Mr. Barry contact Atlanta United President Darren Eales to obtain permission to speak with Mr. Bocanegra.)

        3. Atlanta United (MLS) television analyst Dan Gargan (only on the condition that Atlanta United retains Mr. Gargan for the 2018 season, as he is only contracted for the 2017 season for the time being.)

        With that said, there is a “chemistry” issue with putting Mr. Bocanegra and Mr. Gargan in the same studio. Neither one is a fiery person so any attempt to have them do “manufactured debates” will likely fall flat.

        Putting Ms. Riley and Mr. Bocanegra in the same studio should work, based on what one can observe on a video from July 2015 in which Ms. Riley interviewed Mr. Bocanegra to fill time on World Sport:

        http://www.cnn.com/videos/tv/2015/07/09/sports-carlos-bocanegra-interview.cnn/video/playlists/womens-world-cup-soccer/

  2. R.O

    May 22, 2017 at 9:56 pm

    Turner should hire Derek Rae for CL games. He is moving back to the US from the UK. When ESPN had CL, Derek Rae worked the CL games. For me, he’d be the best choice.

    • Oliver Tse

      May 22, 2017 at 10:13 pm

      I would be surprised if the two Turner Sports executives who will be ultimately in charge of signing off on talent hires for UEFA on truTV (or HLN, or digital), namely EVP/Chief Content Officer Craig Barry and COO Matthew Hong (who has plenty of experience operating NBA TV on a very tight budget) will be willing to spend the money to hire Derek Rae (who would be my #1 choice in a boom economy, when money would not be a major issue.).

      Note also that BBC Radio play-by-play man Alan Green will be moving to Atlanta to call Atlanta United (MLS) matches starting June 17 (at least through October. 2017.) Even though Green is already 64 years old and he has never called matches for TV before, he will be living in Atlanta. Travel cost will be a major issue as Turner will be forced by corporate parent AT&T to squeeze every penny.

      The inevitable stock market correction caused by the Federal Reserve Bank raising interest rates will likely take place sometime in 2018. That means a recession will occur, presenting very challenging economic conditions to sell advertising.

  3. Oliver Tse

    May 22, 2017 at 9:10 pm

    A new name for studio pundit may have vaulted to the top of Turner’s list:

    Atlanta United (MLS) co-commentator Dan Gargan

    Why?

    Because Gargan now lives in Atlanta and Turner Sports (read: COO Matthew Hong) can definitely afford to hire him.

    I will write more about Gargan in the comments section of my article from March 28.

  4. David

    May 8, 2017 at 8:31 pm

    PLEASE, no to Arlo White. He ruins games for me. He talks incessantly giving out his stats and taking away from any atmosphere being generated. This weekend he started a few moments before the kick-off, and yelled his prepared monologue for 1 min 53 seconds before introducing his side-kicks, Lee and Graeme, who then proceeded to have a nice little chat about anything other than what we were watching. He simply doesn’t understand that we want commentators to ENHANCE our viewing experience, NOT DETRACT from it with a non-stop stream of verbal diarrhea. And he is given all the most important teams/matches. Quite appalling.

    • Alo Futbol

      June 9, 2017 at 2:06 am

      Oh go feck arse. You can go back to your beloved John strong.

  5. Oliver Tse

    April 28, 2017 at 4:15 am

    I am going to throw out 2 new names that are on my radar as candidates for studio pundit positions at any U.S. TV network, not just Turner Sports..

    Jermaine Jones a.k.a. “Bundesliga Bad Boy”

    Megan Rapinoe

    My full post will be in the comments section of the article I wrote on March 30..

  6. eddie

    April 24, 2017 at 2:41 pm

    i think ernie johnson should do uefa soccer in 2018

    • Eddie

      May 8, 2017 at 7:01 pm

      i just think that ernie johnson could do uefa soccer because he did the flfa world cup coverage in 1990 on TNT. But, that is not gonna happen because oliver tse is right we need young talent studio before it in august 2018.

      • Eddie

        June 8, 2017 at 4:54 pm

        they need new talent on trutv not ernie johnson and it has to be new person

  7. Dexter

    April 21, 2017 at 9:33 am

    If the commentary & studio talking about, I picked Marv Albert as the leading commentator in the UEFA Champions League & Super Cup alongside w/ freelance analysts, next I picked Kevin Harlan as the leading commentator in the UEFA Europa League. In the studio, if “EJ” Ernie Johnson, Jr. If you say so….

    • Oliver Tse

      April 25, 2017 at 4:00 am

      Marv Albert?

      Kevin Harlan?

      Ernie Johnson?

      Really?

      C’mon guys. Get off your tails and do some actual research before posting, please.

      Turner Broadcasting has a pool of 7 on-air talent who appear on the World Sport show on CNN Airport Network and CNN International:

      Based in Atlanta:

      Kate Riley
      Don Riddell
      Patrick Snell

      Based in London:

      Amanda Davies
      Christina MacFarlane
      Alex Thomas
      Rhiannon Jones (freelancer)

      If Turner Broadcasting were a world class organization that will reward existing employees for their LOYALTY to the company, then Turner Sports will consider these 7 for the role of studio host of UEFA Champions League on truTV before interviewing and auditioning outside candidates.

      So what qualities are Turner Sports executives looking for in this host?

      I can think of these qualities:

      1. The studio host must be able to connect with and retain the viewers who are the most valuable advertisers. Those viewers are American males in the ages 18-34 and 12-25 demographic groups.

      2. The studio host must have extensive experience covering international soccer, both club and country, at the highest level.

      3. The studio host must have a “fun” personality so that he or she will be able to orchestrate fun elements of the studio shows with a rotating cast of pundits.

      One can identify the strongest candidate among those 7 by the process of elimination.

      Because the host will be required to connect with and retain men and boys ages 12-35, we can eliminate the older men. Sorry Don Riddell and Patrick Snell, you two chaps were born 20 years too early.

      The next one to be eliminated, in my opinion, will be Alex Thomas, who is almost completely unknown in the U.S. as he was hired long after CNN/Sports Illustrated (CNNSI) went out of business. Mr. Thomas would be a fine choice for pre-match, post-match, and touchline reporter, but he is not a good fit as studio host.

      Only 4 ladies are left after the guys have been eliminated. 3 of the 4 ladies are based in London, with the remaining one based in Atlanta.

      The effects of motherhood and age are catching up with Amanda Davies, who would also be a fine choice for pre-match, post-match, and touchline reporter, but not as good a fit for studio host as the remaining candidates. Sorry, Ms. Davies.

      Christina MacFarlane was hired by CNN primarily as a traveling correspondent. Because Ms. MacFarlane was a former swimsuit model, CNN likes to send her to cover stories which requires her to report while wearing a swimsuit (I am not joking.). Furthermore, Ms. MacFarlane has less experience covering international soccer compared to Rhiannon Jones or Kate Riley. Turner Sports is looking for a studio host for UEFA on truTV, not a swimsuit model. Time to eliminate “Chrissy Mac”.

      Down to two candidates in Rhiannon Jones and Kate Riley. They are very different.

      While Rhiannon Jones is physically fit and has experience hosting studio shows while she was working at Real Madrid TV, she lacks the fun and engaging personality that Kate Riley projects to the viewers.

      In the case of Kate Riley, her personality trumps her physical attributes. She is at best 5’4″ tall and she looks like your neighbor’s sister, but looks don’t really matter that much for a studio host at Turner, as Ernie Johnson, Jr. has demonstrated over the years.

      When CNN had to choose between Rhiannon Jones and Kate Riley to fill the vacancy at World Sport left by infamous Canadian “Diva” Lara Baldesarra (who of course wore out her welcome at CNN, just as she had done so at The Golf Channel, Rogers Sportsnet, and FOX Sports World Canada/FOX Soccer Channel,) CNN went for the personality instead of physical appearance by hiring Kate Riley. Rhiannon Jones was left on the outside looking in.

      A scary thought: if Lara Baldesarra hadn’t behaved so badly at every stop, Kate Riley would not have been hired by CNN. Everything would have played out so differently.

      Turner Broadcasting can thank Lara for being Lara so that Kate Riley would likely get the first opportunity to audition for what is likely her dream job.

  8. Brendan Soraghan

    March 30, 2017 at 7:37 pm

    I like Kate Riley as anchor for the Champions League she is very competent . Ian Joy or Keith Costigan from Fox Sports to do the Europa League .

    • dmt

      April 13, 2017 at 12:27 pm

      Costigan knows the game but simply doesn’t have the voice for commentary sadly. He’s even tried to cop some odd angl0-intonation into his delivery lately which sounds very odd.

  9. Oliver Tse

    March 30, 2017 at 1:05 am

    My article on why the best UEFA Champions League matches are likely headed for truTV is now up:

    https://worldsoccertalk.com/2017/03/29/trutv-may-turner-sports-ticket-uefa-champions-league-success/

    Please continue the discussion over in the comments section of the new article, Turner Sports executives will likely read that article and the comments in the next few days, as many of them will be traveling to Phoenix for the NCAA Final Four.

  10. The Money Team

    March 29, 2017 at 9:35 am

    As for “backup” host candidates: Turner already has 2 Atlanta-based candidates in house: Don Riddell and Patrick Snell, both of whom have been anchors and correspondents on World Sport for nearly 20 years.

    If Turner were interested in having a separate host for the UEFA Europa League, and ifTurner Sports were looking for a younger candidate then either Riddell or Snell, and if Turner were willing to hire from outside, then instead of Christopher Harris’ choice of Ian Joy, I personally would prefer Mr. Joy’s successor at his previous stop.

    Kevin Egan currently co-hosts the studio shows for UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League matches airing on beIN Sports Canada, and he anchors The Express Xtra on beIN Sports USA and beIN Sports Canada.

    I don’t know the contract situation of Kevin Egan to be able to determine whether he will be available to Turner come September 2018.

  11. The Money Team

    March 28, 2017 at 9:20 am

    If Turner Sports were to hire an on-site commentary team for 1 match each day (instead of using the world feeds for every match), then I do agree with Christopher Harris’ choice of Derek Rae as the play-by-play commentator if Derek were available.

    Note that Derek worked briefly as a freelancer for Turner Sports after FIFA World Cup 1994 ended (he was the press officer at the old Foxboro Stadium venue), calling Tennis for TNT Latin America, before Derek started working freelance for ESPN Latin America/ESPN Asia as a co-commentator, I first came across Derek when I watched the final of the 1995 Brazilian National Championship via pay-per-view. I liked his work then, and I still like his work now.

    My other choice of play-by-play announcer is freelancer extraordinaire Jon Champion, whom many of you know from watching English Premier League matches. Champion usually calls one EPL match each Sunday for the Premier League Productions world feed. Champion has also worked at ESPN as a freelancer, notably during UEFA Euro 2016, FIFA World Cup 2014, and UEFA Euro 2012.

    • The Money Team

      March 28, 2017 at 7:13 pm

      I need to correct myself: Derek Rae was the co-commentator on the 1994 Brasileirao Final on ESPN Latin America/Asia. Those matches were shown in the U.S. on pay-per-view.

      Derek also worked on Dutch Eredivisie and Dutch Cup Football telecasts on ESPN2 (U.S.) and ESPN Latin America/Asia, eventually moving into the play-by-play chair and teaming up with Tommy Smyth “with a y” to form a commentary team that would be a cult favorite among those of us English-speaking “early adopters” in the U.S., as well as viewers in Canada (on TSN), Australia (ESPN Australia), and New Zealand (ESPN New Zealand) for the next decade.

      I have not seen Derek and Tommy in person since 2000 after they called a San Jose Earthquakes vs New York/New Jersey MetroStars match for MSG Network from Spartan Stadium in San Jose on a Saturday night. Before they boarded an American Airlines red-eye flight back to New York, we chatted briefly in the departure lounge (this was pre-9/11) at Terminal A of San Jose Airport before saying goodbye.

      (I believe Tommy Smyth has retired from ESPN, as he is over 70 years old.)

      If indeed Turner were interested in hiring an in-stadium commentary team for big matches (i.e. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United), then I do agree with one of Christopher Harris’ choice of Craig Burley as a candidate for co-commentator.

      Derek Rae and Craig Burley were the commentary team for Scottish Premier League matches on ESPN UK during that network’s brief existence.

      Burley made the move from the U.K. to Bristol, Connecticut after shortly ESPN UK shut down and was essentially replaced by the BT Sport networks. BT chose to co-brand its 3rd sports channel as BT Sport ESPN (instead of BT Sport 3.)

      I don’t know what Burley’s contract situation is with ESPN. I also don’t know whether Burley wants to return to the U.K. One of the reasons that Burley reported made the move to Bristol was for his family to be able to live in the U.S.

      • dmt

        April 13, 2017 at 12:25 pm

        if true, thank god tommy smyth is gone.

  12. The Money Team

    March 28, 2017 at 4:05 am

    I believe this video clip from World Sports 2016 Year in Review will end the debate once and for all.

    http://www.cnn.com/videos/sports/2016/12/27/ws-kate-riley-year-end-leicester-city-premier-league-football.cnn

    In some ways, Kate Riley may be better than Rebecca Lowe, Kay Murray, and Kate Abdo.

    I am now willing to up my estimate of the probability of Turner Sports selecting Kate Riley to host UEFA Champions League studio shows to 90%.

    • Cantona

      March 28, 2017 at 8:10 am

      Plexi glass desks… eh Oliver? Give it a break

      Cantona—

      • The Money Team

        March 28, 2017 at 9:44 am

        Plexiglass desks were “fun” for the guys watching while they lasted, but the industry has moved on from that gimmick.

        The originator of the plexiglass desk gimmick, Central FOX on FOX Sports Deportes/FOX Sports Latin America, got rid of the plexiglass desk in 2014 when they re-designed the sets of Central FOX in both Mexico City and Buenos Aires.

        Indeed, one of the anchors of Central FOX on FOX Sports Latin America South Cone (in Buenos Aires), Viviana Semienchuk, felt offended when I used a Twitter announcer and posted the words “piernas lindas”.(pretty legs).

        Viviana fired right back at me: “Watch and listen more closely, we are much more than just pretty legs.”

        Viviana was correct. A few days later after that Twitter salvo, she was reporting from the touchline of a Lionel Messi charity friendly match from Cancun, Mexico for a live match telecast on FOX Deportes and FOX Sports Latin America.

        Viviana wanted viewers (including me) to judge her by the journalistic quality of her work, not by how pretty her legs were.

        The industry no longer needs plexiglass desks. The producers of studio shows now use “living room” sets with sofas. The guys watching can now see what they want to see without having the desk get in the way.

    • The Money Team

      March 28, 2017 at 12:58 pm

      Watch this 4-minute package Kate Riley did for World Sport from various locations in the Los Angeles Area when Leicester City was in town for a friendly last summer:

      http://www.cnn.com/videos/sports/2016/08/07/leicester-city-new-season-preps-hollywood-riley-pkg.cnn

      Knowing that CNN requires ALL World Sport correspondents to produce and edit their own packages when they go on the road, anyone who has watched that package will notice Ms. Riley’s entire range of presentation and production skills.

      I am tempted to raise the probability of Ms. Riley being hired by Turner Sports to front UEFA Champions League coverage on truTV to 95%, but I will hold off for now.

  13. Siberius

    March 27, 2017 at 7:42 pm

    Get ready for Ernie Johnson and Charles Barkley 🙂 .

  14. The Money Team

    March 27, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    Turner Broadcasting also has potential candidates for touchline reporters at the stadiums under contract.

    Basically, anyone who is anchoring World Sport on CNN International and CNN Airport Network from London instead of Atlanta is a candidate.

    One candidate is Rhiannon Jones, who does freelance work for FOX Sports in the U.S. as a touchline reporter on UEFA Champions League and German Bundesliga broadcasts in addition to anchoring World Sport from London.

    Ms. Jones worked for Real Madrid TV in Spain until 2015. Because she is fluent in both English and Spanish, she is capable of interviewing players and managers in Spanish if Turner were to need a touchline reporter for Real Madrid and Barcelona home games.

    Ms. Jones has posted on YouTube her demo reel with her work on CNN, Real Madrid TV (in English and Spanish), FOX Sports, ITV, and BBC.

    https://youtu.be/_UwLXhnSzFY

  15. The Money Team

    March 27, 2017 at 1:16 am

    I have to disagree with Christopher Harris’ choice of John Dykes, who is obviously very qualified, but has never worked in the U.S. Besides, Mr. Dykes has a very good job with Premier League Productions as the face of the Premier League around the world.

    In my opinion, Turner Broadcasting in Atlanta already has a stronger candidate than Mr. Dykes in-house, In June 2016, CNN hired California-born, British-educated sports TV presenter Kate Riley to anchor World Sport on CNN International and CNN Airport Network.

    (At CNN, Ms. Riley replaced the infamous Canadian presenter Lara Baldesarra, whom many of you may remember from her days of butchering names on FOX Soccer Report.)

    Ms. Riley previously reported and presented sports TV news in the U.K. for Sky Sports News, Premier League Productions, and BBC. Her first significant on-camera experience was with the regional network BBC Look East.

    Several U.S.-based soccer-centric media members have already met Ms. Riley person at the 2016 BlazerCon industry conference, where Ms. Riley was on assignment for World Sport. She interviewed English Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore and the hosts of the Men in Blazers show, Roger Bennett and Michael Davies.

    Readers can watch Ms. Riley’s recent work at her bio page at CNN.com:

    http://www.cnn.com/profiles/kate-riley-profile

    Ms. Riley’s demo reel from 2014, featuring her work on Sky Sports and the BBC:

    http://youtu.be/eTT7hkJZzYI

    A “fun” video clip of Ms. Riley taking the ALS bucket challenge in 2014:

    https://youtu.be/U5M9cMVfvOU

    I believe Ms. Riley is the odds-on favorite to land the studio host job. I set the odds at 1-to-4, or a probability of 80%.

    Knowing how much Turner is paying World Sport anchors to present from Atlanta, Turner will NOT have to break the bank to offer her the additional duty of hosting UEFA Champions League studio coverage, which I now believe will be on truTV and HLN instead of TBS or TNT.

    • Eddie

      May 8, 2017 at 7:05 pm

      what about Trutv air two matches and TNT/TBS air one match or whip-around or instead HLN will come our first time live sports event on turner sports.

  16. AJJMedia

    March 13, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    Honestly, even at their best, both Burley and Janusz Michallik don’t do extensive homework on secondary clubs in leagues outside of the Premier League, and aren’t experts on rising players who don’t reside at a big club.

    There are many dynamic personalities around the online world would could easily be vital to Turner and become that conduit to showing what type of analysis, both entertaining and enlightening beyond the big clubs and stars, is needed for the best production.

  17. AJJMedia

    March 13, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    Me….And Christopher Harris, obviously.

  18. Kurly

    March 12, 2017 at 9:01 pm

    I know this maybe an obscure choice to many but p having seen his work as a presenter , and to my knowledge he currently is a free agent what would you say to Joe Morrison hosting the UEFA CL and EL shows? If his work is unfamiliar to you he used to host ten sports'(Indian broadcast network) coverage of the uefa CL and even La Liga at one point. I liked him as a host and quite liked the show that the network broadcast. They have a new host and different pundits now so their analysis is different and as a result what they broadcast differs from whenJoe was there, and because I have moved I don’t really watch that channel too often so I don’t know what their show is like today but it was good when I used to watch it.

  19. AMERICA!!!

    March 5, 2017 at 9:28 pm

    Wynalda, Lalas, Stu, Brad Friedel and any American that is out there……Just because i like them and eurosnobs/posers heads would roll!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. cm asia

    March 5, 2017 at 4:41 am

    Several things:

    1) I’d be thrilled if Turner decided to house their studio in London. I wish NBC had done the same for EPL. The tournament is European, and Turner would have greater access to a wider – and rotating – variety of studio analysts.

    2) Before picking match commentators, let’s wait until the British rights are awarded. BT and SKY are both bidding again, but from what I’ve heard, UEFA would prefer exclusive rights versus the current split agreement.
    If UEFA goes exclusive, a lot of talent will become available to Turner.

    3) Twellman? No !
    Wynalda? Hell, no!
    Burley? Studio, maybe.
    Michallik? No.
    Arlo? If it got him away from the EPL, I’d be thrilled.

    4) Having lived in Asia for a long, long time, receiving both ESPN / Star and SuperSport, John Dykes or Gary Bailey would be good choices.
    I think Dykes, a terrific studio guy, is miscast in the Goal Rush role.
    And at SuperSport Bailey covered many MU matches with a great degree of objectivity.

    Turner has a great chance to learn from the greatness of NBC’s EPL coverage and ESPN’s World Cup and Euro’s work. And from the horror of Fox touching anything football.
    Let’s hope they do.

    • vssssqz

      March 5, 2017 at 10:19 am

      Uhhh oh you aren’t in support of the MLS God Twellman, you will be called a Euro Snob and other nonsense by the MLS freaks.

    • USAJerry

      March 5, 2017 at 11:15 am

      I agree with everything but Arlo. He grew stale with me quick. Not a City fan but he goes into every City match wanting to yell Sergio Aguero’s name in a way to mimic how his name was called when he scored the match winner on the last day of the season to give City the title some years back.

  21. NashRambler

    March 5, 2017 at 12:55 am

    Christopher,
    Do you know when BeIn’s current rights deal with La Liga will end? I’m thinking it would be interesting if Turner Sports decided to bid for the La Liga rights so Turner would have soccer content to broadcast/stream on weekends throughout the season.

  22. burnsey

    March 3, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    ha…add Arlo and you would have the worst announcing trio of all time.

  23. vsssssssssssssssssssssssssssqz

    March 3, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    Studio: Ernie Johnson Hosting along with Twellman, Lalas, Grant Wahl and Kartik.

    Commentators: Gus Johnson with Ray Hudson.

  24. CTBlues

    March 3, 2017 at 1:11 pm

    Does Micheal Ballack work for a German network covering the UCL because I wouldn’t mind him as a talking head. I liked him during the WC coverage.

  25. PercentVested

    March 3, 2017 at 11:40 am

    Most interesting to me is the quick blurb about Turner trying to grab other rights? Any additional insight into that one?

    What on the horizon is up for grabs?

    • CTBlues

      March 3, 2017 at 12:58 pm

      La Liga would be nice.

    • The Money Team

      March 27, 2017 at 2:01 am

      Soccer U.S. sports media industry observers expect Turner to bid big to try to take Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) away from FOX when those rights come up for bid.

      If Turner were to also land UFC, then Turner will have a 4th product to increase subscriber fees for 4 different channels:

      TNT – National Basketball Association

      TBS – Major League Baseball

      truTV – UEFA Champions League (primary games), NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament (First Four preliminary round games, Round of 64 games, and Round of 32 games)

      HLN – Ultimate Fighting Championship??? + 2nd choice UEFA Champions League and Europa League games

      • eddie

        April 27, 2017 at 8:17 am

        will HLN put overflow sports playoffs during nba on tnt and mlb on tbs and overflow live sports event just like nascar in 2012 simulcast tnt and HLN.

      • eddie

        April 27, 2017 at 2:02 pm

        i look like add HLN on turner sports because last time it air NASCAR on TNT in 2012 during simulcast and it air the first time live sports on turner sports and it help provide the soccer games and Ufc might come Trutv or maybe Hln in 2019.

    • The Money Team

      March 27, 2017 at 3:54 am

      I do NOT expect Turner to grab another soccer rights product.

      However, I do expect Turner to bid for other sports TV products as they become available, especially if Turner believes that the incumbent will NOT bid enough to retain the product.

      The UEFA CL is one such example of this strategy.

      Turner has NBA to bolster TNT, MLB to bolster TBS, and UEFA CL to bolster truTV.

      Turner needs one more sports TV product to boost HLN.

      One possible product that will fit HLN’s mission of targeting young male viewers is video gaming a.k.a. eSports. Plenty of those products are available as time buys, meaning the producer will have to pay the TV network for TV time.

      A product that Turner can wait patiently for the incumbent to give up is the “new” Big East Conference sports package, 95% of which are men’s basketball games. Now that FOX Sports has the “1st pick” of Big Ten Conference (American) football and men’s basketball games, FOX Sports no longer needs to overpay for Big East basketball. FOX Sports dumped Conference USA when it landed the new Big East, and one would expect FOX Sports to treat the Big East in a similar manner because FOX Sports now has the “A” package for the Big Ten. The current rights for the Big East Conference package held by FOX Sports will expire in May 2025

      One other product that Turner might target is Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). FOX currently holds the U.S. rights to UFC through January 2019. Multiple bidders are expected to bid so the bidding could get out of hand.

      • The Money Team

        March 28, 2017 at 12:13 pm

        The rights to the World Series of Poker (WSOP) starting 2019 will come up for bid if ESPN were to chose to pass during a upcoming exclusive negotiations period.

        Because FS1 and FS2 boss Jamie Horowitz was credited with inventing the NBC Sports National Heads-up Poker Championship and was involved with the production of the WSOP on ESPN in 2008-2009 (and I do understand that Horowitz attended the 2015 WSOP Main Event Final Table as a guest of Caesars Entertainment executive Ty Stewart, I would expect FOX Sports to bid if ESPN were to pass.

        Because Turner Broadcasting needs a sports product to bolster HLN, the WSOP is a potential fit due to its male demographic and because HLN has a TON of time to fill each evening. Other than the law program hosted by Ashleigh Banfield during east coast prime time (M-F 8-10pm Eastern) HLN has nothing but reruns during West Coast prime time (after 7pm Pacific/10pm Eastern), when the WSOP Main Event Final Table will be played over either 2 or 3 nights.

        I now expect Turner to take a shot at the WSOP if ESPN were to pass. The bidding between FOX and Turner will be very interesting if the auction were to happen.

  26. Cantona

    March 3, 2017 at 7:43 am

    First of all… are you on CRACK?? Wynalda ? twellman?? Really??? Want to repeat the crap mistakes of Fox going forward?!!

    Turner would be best served by partnering with BT Sport and using Linekar and Co. have them say hello to eveyone in the usa and then get on with it…

    If you MUST have a halftime show US centric..
    Please dont even get near the current hacks the likes of Hudson, Schoen, Lalas, Wynalda.

    I listened to the last podcast Chris, and you gave some of thes idiots kudos… ie Cordero and Bonetti… im starting to get worried that the stsndard here is really bottoming out.

    Cantona—

    • Christopher Harris

      March 3, 2017 at 7:47 am

      Different strokes for different folks.

      I don’t believe I put Cordero and Bonetti on my top 10 lists. That was Kartik, by the way.

    • USAJerry

      March 5, 2017 at 11:12 am

      You saved me a lot of typing. Wynalda and Twellman are both blowhards indeed. Twellman has the edge in arrogance.

      But at least he didn’t recommend Lalas so kudos for that. Not enough room at the desk for all of their egos.

    • AMERICA!!!

      March 5, 2017 at 9:29 pm

      Have you moved out of your parents yet?

      Guy Cantona kicked in the stands-

      • Vssssqz

        March 27, 2017 at 7:32 am

        MLS freak I take it? Are you the tool creating Atlanta chants to an outkast song? Anyone who hasn’t seen it please Google it, MLS culture in a nutshell.

  27. Burnsie

    March 2, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    Gary Bailey is excellent on BEIN. He’s professional, prepared, knowledgeable, and doesn’t go for the “clown-prince” act like everyone else on that station (Thomas Rongen, Ray Hudson etc). Gary was the main studio host for many years in South Africa, and as an ex-United player, still has a good feel for the modern game. In my opinion, he is clearly superior to Shaka and Tim Howard.

    • Tayo

      March 2, 2017 at 9:44 pm

      Sure i like him but please keep him away from anything Manchester United. He tends to be very biased..

  28. Kevin

    March 2, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    Another to keep off the list is NBC’s Arrlo White. No tempo. Doesn’t seem to know rhythm of the game. Talks over the game.

    NBC’s overall group of talent…..?

  29. MD

    March 2, 2017 at 9:51 am

    Nobody here has mentioned the obvious choice if you want someone opinionated, provocative, eloquent, feisty, modern, closely in touch with the European game, including the players, with a ready made following within the US due to his successful show on Sirius, and an award-winning track record in his homeland. As an analyst, Stan Collymore would bring a breath of fresh air to coverage of soccer in the US because, love him or hate him, he’s a personality who MAKES people take notice.

    • MAHLUF

      March 2, 2017 at 11:16 am

      Collymore is a clown. Keep him away from the US airwaves.

  30. Harry

    March 2, 2017 at 9:07 am

    I agree with most of the names put forward except Twellman and Wynalda who are both lightweight and not very informative or able to discuss tactics with any insight.

  31. Dmt

    March 2, 2017 at 6:45 am

    John Strong for the games if available. Doesn’t do crap jokes etc. from what I’ve heard from him.

  32. Chris Almonte

    March 2, 2017 at 12:36 am

    What about Ernie Johnson? he did the 1990 World Cup when Turner broadcasted the World Cup. Wouldn’t interfere with Inside the NBA on Thursday nights.

    • AJJMedia

      March 13, 2017 at 5:12 pm

      NO.

      And Ernie also has MLB to do here and there, so I don’t think he would want to do it anyway. It would be disastrous as he simply doesn’t have deep knowledge of European football like that.

    • The Money Team

      March 27, 2017 at 11:08 am

      Don’t believe Turner Sports would ask Ernie Johnson to be involved with UEFA Champions League, as Turner Broadcasting already has at least one Atlanta-based candidate under contract who is a much better fit for the job.

      I continue to believe that Kate Riley is the best available in-house option for Turner.

      .http://www.cnn.com/profiles/kate-riley-profile

  33. Rob

    March 2, 2017 at 12:30 am

    Is it possible to have some who has played in the UCL or a club that player from the past that plays in the UCL? The problem with getting Americans is that they never played in the UCL or a club that played in the UCL.

    • Curtis Williams

      December 20, 2017 at 11:56 am

      Here’s 2 possible suggestions: Jovan Kirovski and DaMarcus Beasley. While both US players have played in the Champions League (Kirovski with Dortmund ’96-97 & Beasley with PSV 2004-05 through 2006-07), both of them bring their own insight to the Champions League for viewers here in the U.S.

      • Toughest Sports TV Critic on Earth

        December 20, 2017 at 3:07 pm

        Turner COO Matthew Hong, who is in charge of both UEFA and NBA at Turner, is a bean counter.

        We now know that Carlos Bocanegra is a lock because he lives in Atlanta and because he is VP and Technical Director of Atlanta United FC. While Boca hasn’t played in a CL match, he did play for Fulham of EPL and he was a USMNT captain.

        The problem is the host position. Hong may have to go with Patrick Snell or Don Riddell. Kate Riley is now a “high risk” candidate because she has a flaw of not checking names prior to going on camera. Brittany Arnold is riskier than Riley because she has almost no experience with European Futbol.

  34. Sophie

    March 1, 2017 at 10:47 pm

    So no women 🙂

    • Christopher Harris

      March 1, 2017 at 11:23 pm

      Who would you suggest?

    • Brian

      March 2, 2017 at 12:09 am

      I am totally down for some Kay Murray!

    • AJJMedia

      March 13, 2017 at 5:08 pm

      If Julie Foudy would do extensive HW before a match, I would favor her, but she just hasn’t grown as a host able to be smooth, smart and sophisticated to high level hosting.

      There sadly just isn’t a host, both male or female, in the U.S. TV soccer/football broadcasting level right now who combine both proper knowledge of what’s going on in the game as well as being just MUCH WATCH TV in terms of humor/wit.

      Rebecca Lowe is as professional as they come, but she isn’t a dynamic personality and doesn’t want to be that. Rob Stone has always been a fun personality, but is again not as knowledgable beyond the big clubs/big players and is TOO American bias. Kay is still stuck on the English way of reading highlights, as it is a format that is too generic, slow and very mediocre in all honesty.

      Turner has to find that host with an ability to go deeper than just knowing the Premier League, La Liga big 2, Juventus, Bayern and whichever team has a prominent American or Mexican.

    • AJJMedia

      March 13, 2017 at 5:11 pm

      But Brian McBride, Brad Friedel, Stuart Holden and Shaka Hislop have shown the quality on doing their homework and knowing more than just the glamorous clubs. They also have a nice tone of not yelling and getting over emotional in tone, which is Taylor Twellman’s major weakness still. Those four would be the ideal additions.

      Meeting Eric Wynalda, he is a class guy. And when he locks into full focus on a team or players, even those who he may not have deep knowledge on, he can very effective.

    • The Money Team

      March 27, 2017 at 1:50 am

      Turner Broadcasting already has Kate Riley working in Atlanta, at CNN Center, anchoring World Sport on CNN International.

      http://www.cnn.com/profiles/kate-riley-profile

      Ms. Riley’s extensive resume include presenter and correspondent work for Sky Sports News, Premier League Productions, and BBC among others.

      https://youtu.be/eTT7hkJZzYI

      Watch this clip of Ms. Riley doing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, and you decide whether she has the personality to connect with the young male ages 18-34 demographic that Turner will use the UEFA Champions League to target:

      https://youtu.be/U5M9cMVfvOU

  35. Brian

    March 1, 2017 at 9:28 pm

    I think Turner should over pay and get someone to come over here a few days a week like a Neville brother or Gary Lineker. Wonder if Tim Howard would be good in studio? If not they should get Shaka Hislop for the house GK.

  36. SRT392

    March 1, 2017 at 6:55 pm

    Two that I wished would get picked up by a network as regulars are Stu Holden and Brian McBride, especially McBride, I think he’s underrated as a player because he’s not one of the usual talking heads. Also Twellman is a European Soccer expert? Because he called the Euros this year or what are you basing this on? For that matter you are as well Chris if we are talking about just speaking on it, they should get someone who can speak to playing in the actual Champions league or at least a career in Europe to speak of.

    • LIguy

      March 1, 2017 at 6:58 pm

      Twellman played in Germany for a couple of years and it would be great if they could get a Champions League player in the studio but I don’t think there are many around in the U.S. working in TV.

  37. nickp

    March 1, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    Ray Hudson should be the official commentator of champions league for Turner Sports

    • David

      March 1, 2017 at 6:35 pm

      I like Ray Hudson, but he can get annoying at times. Sometimes it gets old when he’s just screaming adjectives like “magisterial”. I actually hope Turner hires new people that we aren’t used to seeing from soccer coverage here in the states.

  38. Kevin

    March 1, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    When Wynalda tried going at Giorgio Chinaglia during a WC show………..he lost big time. That was embarrassing for Wynalda. Comes across too immature with the big boys.

    No way should he or Twellman be near this project. Both have little value to add.

    Hopefully Turner doesn’t hire re-treads again.

  39. cnl. onions

    March 1, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    If anyone at Turner is reading this, please disregard the Wynalda comment. He’s awful. Has no idea what he’s talking about and delivers his points like an unfunny Norm MacDonald character.

    • Christopher Harris

      March 1, 2017 at 2:26 pm

      Cnl. Onions, have you had a chance to hear him on his Wynalda Talks Football show on Sirius XM FC?

    • ribman

      March 2, 2017 at 8:09 pm

      also Craig Burley is nothing more than a blowhard, just a bunch of reactionary hot takes

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