If you have been able to stay up or wake up early to watch the Women’s World Cup, you will have seen the usual FOX coverage of a major tournament. In a way, there are no surprises. You know what you’ll get. Since acquiring the women’s and men’s World Cup rights starting in 2015, FOX has sent many of the same faces and voices to cover games.
If the Women’s World Cup is a chance to be a paradigm shift, the broadcaster must play a role, too. Not only should FOX be promoting its women talent more, but it should be putting them on the center stage. For example, FOX brought Heather O’Reilly, Karina LeBlanc and Kate Gill. Each of them has playing experience. Now, they just need the broadcast experience for some of the bigger contests.
FOX should be embracing the chance for more diverse coverage at the Women’s World Cup. The usual faces of Rob Stone, Alexi Lalas, Stu Holden, JP Dellacamera and John Strong are center stage. However, this is an unprecedented chance to build on the popularity of women’s soccer, particularly in the United States. With record viewing numbers for group stage games already, FOX can send a message
Breaking away from the norm
Rob Stone and Alexi Lalas are the cornerstones of the studio coverage. JP Dellacamera and John Strong are two of the highlight names for play-by-play duties. The same goes for Jenn Hildreth. There are some familiar names as analysts, too. For example, Kyndra de St. Aubin, Aly Wagner and Danielle Slaton served in the same role going back to that 2015 World Cup in Canada.
Most of the fans in the United States will tune in to watch the Women’s World Cup when the USWNT is playing. Not only have the kickoff times been somewhat favorable to an American audience, but that is simply where the interest rests in the USA. The lead analyst in studio coverage is Alexi Lalas.
Lalas, a polarizing figure in the American soccer media, has more than enough experience when it comes to covering a World Cup. And, while he was a player, it would be better to replace him with a top-level women’s soccer analyst. There are plenty to choose from.
Granted, Lalas has spent more time in the broadcasting industry. Moreover, he is someone that knows how to get interaction and involvement from the viewers. That is why FOX promoted his quote in a tweet from studio coverage. It is good analysis of USWNT manager Vlatko Andonovski. However, Lloyd and Hingst played with or against some of the stars on the pitch. FOX can, and should, be more active and promoting some of its women talent.
FOX can look to others to see diverse World Cup coverage
While FOX continues to employ many of the same faces for its featured coverage, other providers are taking a new path, one of a more diverse look for the Women’s World Cup. For reference, Telemundo announced the largest women commentary roster in Spanish-language media history.
“For us, the Women’s World Cup is more than a premier global sporting event – it is an opportunity to contribute to something bigger, and we’re proud to enhance our coverage with experienced and diverse voices,” said Eli Velazquez, Executive Vice President of Sports, Telemundo.
Telemundo, with coverage available on Peacock as well, always thrives when it comes to broadcasting the World Cup. Is it a picture-perfect display of diversity compared to its men’s World Cup coverage? No, of course not. The sensational Andrés Cantor headlines the play-by-play duties alongside many of those who were in Qatar for the World Cup. For example, Sammy Sadovnik, Jorge Calvo and Copan Alvarez all called games for the men’s tournament.
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Regardless, Telemundo is making steps to get more diverse names into its coverage. To be fair, the three-person broadcast teams that Telemundo uses make that slightly easier. FOX only uses a play-by-play voice and a color commentator. Therefore, FOX just has less options available in the booth. Could FOX try something out to give more people an opportunity? Yes. That is what FOX should be doing. It should take risks and work to be different in the broadcast world rather than reverting back to what it has done for almost a decade with these high-profile competitions.
For instance, CBS does not shy away from taking risks either. The broadcaster recently unveiled Attacking Third, an all-women crew that focuses on women’s soccer. CBS puts this program on the CBS Sports Golazo Network, which does afford CBS more freedom than FOX has during a World Cup. Although CBS does not have the rights to a World Cup, the women on the panel do a phenomenal job talking about the Women’s World Cup. Compared to FOX’s coverage, Attacking Third is a far better and more intelligent option.
FOX’s talent can do the same if it has the analysts available during the Women’s World Cup.
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