Even though FOX Sports has had seven years to prepare for coverage of its first men’s World Cup, the US broadcaster has been scrambling in its first seven days of broadcasting the World Cup to try to find a winning formula.
First, its lead foreign analyst Lothar Matthäus was let go in mysterious circumstances. Then FOX Sports hired Clarence Seedorf on Monday to provide much-needed pre-match, halftime and post-match analysis in the World Cup studio. And now, FOX Sports has hired Martin O’Neill as their newest studio analyst.
In the meantime, Telemundo — even though the Spanish-language broadcaster is in far fewer homes than FOX — is generating greater viewing numbers for the World Cup.
One week in, FOX Sports is continuing to experiment to figure out the strengths and weaknesses of its studio talent. With the addition of Martin O’Neill, who has been working for ITV’s coverage of the World Cup, FOX Sports has hired a man who never shies away from controversy and always has a strong opinion to share especially when it comes to tactics. He’s the ideal hire for FOX Sports. Combined with Seedorf offering his analysis, this could be enough to bring English-language viewers from Telemundo and back to FOX.
Combined with the analysis of Kelly Smith and Ian Wright, who work very well together — as well as the consistent Moisés Muñoz — FOX’s coverage is beginning to resemble the level of analysis we would expect from a World Cup broadcaster. Up until now, it’s been Alexi Lalas who has been taking a making forceful role to try to keep the analysis together as Hernan Crespo and Guus Hiddink have fumbled their opinions. In the meantime, host Rob Stone has been unsure of himself on camera and nowhere near as confident as he appears when he’s been hosting coverage of MLS.
FOX’s coverage is starting to come together. The big question is whether it’s too little too late as many viewers have already flocked to Telemundo.