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First impressions of ESPN’s Euro 2020 coverage

In the NEW episode, number 226, Christopher Harris and co-host Kartik Krishnaiyer cover a range of topics including:

• First impressions of ESPN’s Euro 2020 coverage
• How ESPN handled the Christian Eriksen emergency
• Observations about FOX’s Copa America broadcasts
• And your feedback in the Listener Mailbag segment.

Listen to the show via the player above or via this link.

Launched in 2006, the World Soccer Talk Podcast is the longest running podcast on the planet. Every week, we share the latest news about watching soccer on television and streaming, in addition to discussing what we like and dislike, and featuring your questions and feedback in our Listener Mailbag segment.

HEAR MORE: Listen to our archive featuring hundreds of soccer interviews

Send in your questions, comments and feedback via e-mail, via Twitter (@worldsoccertalk) or Facebook. We’ll read them out on-air in the next episode.

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  1. rajvosa

    June 23, 2021 at 4:20 pm

    The buzzword of EURO 2020 on ESPN is “vertical”.

  2. pdx soccerfan

    June 23, 2021 at 4:16 pm

    OK, thanks for the comment. I guess just like you, I was expressing my opinion. Certainly did not mean to offend you as it appears I have. My comment has nothing to do with European-centric mindedness as you implied. I would object just as much if a Brit was to be a commentator (or a sidekick) for NBA finals or baseball World Series. We should leave soccer commentary to the experienced folks. Yesterday’s England vs. Czech republic game with Ian Darke and Stewart Robson will be a good example of that. Pity poor Jon Champion. Now three cheers to you !

  3. Lee Gaucher

    June 22, 2021 at 11:37 pm

    Ah, the comments are finally back to the correct order.

    Steve Cangialosi is neck and neck with Arlo White for most annoying play-by-play announcer in football.

  4. Allan Lindh

    June 22, 2021 at 10:41 pm

    I second the comments on Twellman’s running off at the mouth. Jon Champion calls a good match, and Taylor spoils a lot of it. His opinions just aren’t that helpful. I hate to say it, but much of the time I understand more than he does.

  5. Christopher

    June 22, 2021 at 2:08 pm

    Aside from the Euro talk, will the Belgian and Dutch league continue on ESPN + this coming season and seasons ? How long was the deal ?

  6. Don Dickerson

    June 22, 2021 at 9:32 am

    I didn’t know where else to post this so figured here is fine.
    Is it just my phone or did sometime last week the comments section change from reading top to bottom to what is bottom to top now.
    I might be in the minority here but this new comment section is killing me on my phone. I guess it might be different for a person on a computer or tablet. But I have to scroll up to the comment then scroll down as I read the long ones then have to scroll up again to get to the top of the next comment. I guess I prefer reading comments like a book or a page top to bottom.

    • Christopher Harris

      June 22, 2021 at 10:20 am

      Good feedback. Ok, let me change it back to the way it was before.

  7. Nosferatu

    June 22, 2021 at 2:26 am

    For me, the issue with Cangialosi is simply that he’s very shouty. Like where I have to turn the volume down or my wife will hear him from the basement or upstairs. It’s the same for him on hockey with the Devils. Just not my taste, but obviously some people are into that, hence why he gets these gigs.

    Then you have guys like Twellman and Moreno who just can’t shut up. And with Twellman it’s a shame because I absolutely love how Jon Champion calls a game, and to pair his style–he likes to let things breathe, and doesn’t talk just for the sake of it–with Twellman just makes it seem like the higher-ups at the network have no idea what they’re doing.

  8. Frank C

    June 21, 2021 at 6:10 pm

    Hey PDX,

    Local talent is not all that bad. I certainly didn’t say or imply Cangiolosi was the best. I just stated an opinion.
    As for your comments, they strike me as a typical parochial European perspective.
    Interesting that you didn’t mention how Cangiosi and his commentator made the point that Turkey was overmatched and overrun in the midfield. And frankly, Italy did dominate the game so it makes sense that he comment on their shutouts and number of minutes without conceding a goal. 
    After all, it was the first game of the Euros and many watchers were probably not aware of the specifics of how Italy qualified to that, at that point, winners of 27 straight matches.
    Did you see yesterday’s Italy game? There was a British announcer and on at least two occasions he made a point about the upcoming 1,000th minute without conceding a goal.
    So tell me. Is it the content or the accent that bothers you? It seems that you, in fact, are what you appear to be. A social media blowhard. Find something else to rant about.

  9. Oranjeboy

    June 20, 2021 at 9:27 pm

    The problem with Taylor Twellman isn’t that he isn’t passionate about the game – he just doesn’t have the in-depth knowledge of the game that is required for color commentary and so he keeps second guessing himself on whether he made a mistake calling certain plays like a yellow card for example. It really is sad that ESPN thinks this is what we are worth. Leys be honest, your are not growing the game. The game grows with passionate knowledgeable and supporters that live and breathe the game.

  10. Scrumper

    June 20, 2021 at 12:12 pm

    Please someone put a cork in twaddleman’s mouth so we don’t have to listen to his verbal diarrhea drivel. He knows nothing about tactics constantly flip flopping between who is the best team on the pitch and repeats the same tired cliches.

  11. vinnie jones

    June 19, 2021 at 1:38 pm

    Saw ‘Frank C’s’ comments about Steve C and Derek Rae, is this Steve C’s dad or mum seekiing some job security. The only one better than Steve C is twitman, because twitman actually played the game. As soon as I hear twitman it is the mute button. Maybe ESPN engaged SteveC to make twitman look good.

    Wonder if the ESPN execs can see how many folks mute the audio? W/ the xfinity boxes there must be some visibility. ..

  12. Frank

    June 19, 2021 at 12:40 pm

    I’m getting tired of Taylor Twellman’s over-analysis. If he is a color commentator, he should stick to short, pithy and insightful discussions on what we have just seen. Instead, we often get microscopic detail in tortured language, and Twellman often rattles on while something critical is happening on the field of play, which is disrespectful to his fellow commentator. One example was a Twellman disertation on how Germany were playing well at the time – which probably took two minutes to unfold – and his colleague, tongue-in-cheek no doubt replied, “Germany are playing like Germany.!” Yes, less is more.

  13. Eric T

    June 18, 2021 at 8:03 pm

    Fox’s coverage of Copa America has been absolutely dreadful. They really don’t care about the sport at all and put in the bare minimum just so they can carry an expensive property on the cheap. It’s really quite sad. Their World Cup 2018 coverage wasn’t great either. Still pissed that they took the rights from ESPN. ESPN is miles better with their soccer coverage in comparison. Just a complete embarrassment.

  14. Sports Watcher

    June 18, 2021 at 4:04 pm

    I’ve avoided ESPN’s coverage like the plague.

    I have enjoyed BBC One’s coverage. Simple and pretty straight forward. itv’s has definitely been the JV crew in England especially on the studio side.

    When Christian Eriksen went down, I was watching the game on the British station that carried it at the time. It was heartbreaking. I then turned briefly to ESPN to see the talking heads killing time in the studio. Of course, the overly obnoxious Taylor Twellman was in there and he proceeded to get flack when he was just telling the truth regarding a heart issue (Eriksen was revealed to have cardiac arrest.). I did notice that there were some people on ESPN who were just there because it was a gig, because they were a token (i.e. former female player or host that nobody really knew of), or a former player with some name value who ESPN thought would bring viewers.

    When Eriksen went down, I tuned to DR1 in Denmark. It was great. They kept it simple when the game was postponed. They went to a wide stadium shot from the corner and the commentators barely spoke. That broadcast took the PA announcements live which was a nice touch. No frills. No egos. Just legit concern and you could feel the vibe from within the stadium.

    I have also tuned to Sport TV 1 in Portugal. Pretty good commentary but as far as production goes, you can really tell that those commentators are not on site. So that takes away from some of the feel.

    I’ve also checked out the coverage in Croatia (typical laid back Balkan type of commentary), Italy (RAI1) (great quality and the sound just pops and they have great commentators), North Macedonia (definitely not on site), Norway, Switzerland, and Germany. Germany was really good and you could tell they were on site. No frills or gimmicks. Just straight forward coverage.

    Mostly, I’ve been watching the coverage in the Netherlands via NPO1. Very good commentary and you really can’t tell if their announcers are on site or not which is a good thing. Very good wrap-around coverage with their roundtable show formats (think Pauw and Jinek) combined with an outdoor show with fans sitting around and enjoying a beer (all while being respectful because something like that would never happen in the States). Very little “haha” programming. I think they have a comedian who has been going around doing various things with Dutch National Players. That is provided in small bits so it’s not overwhelming or insulting like the coverage we get from America.

    So that’s my roundup. None of the coverages are pushing credentials every five minutes on the studio shows like ESPN likes to push. Each European carrier I’ve seen has something unique about their broadcasts and I really enjoy being able to take them all in.

  15. pdx soccerfan

    June 18, 2021 at 1:40 pm

    I’m not sure what all the fuss is about having local “talent.” Jon Champion and Derek Rae can at least draw upon their wealth of experience and call the game with proper perspective. As for Mr. Cangialosi , let’s just say it is a typical American perspective commentary. I’m sure you all noticed how many times he had to repeat the statistics about the number of games/minutes, … Italy had gone without giving up a goal. Calling a baseball game will be right up his alley, or even MLS or CONCACAF games. World-class soccer matches, not so much! CBS’s UEFA or NBC’s EPL announcers will put these guys to shame!

  16. Frank C

    June 18, 2021 at 10:50 am

    Derek Rae narrative was terrible last night. A non-stop barrage of irrelevant information on players, their parent’s businesses, and other comments that were irrelevant to the action on the field. And of course, while having to listen to this barrage, no identification of who was handling the ball which is kind of important when most of the players on Austria and Netherlands do not play in the EPL or LaLiga ( the leagues with the greatest accessibility in the US) and consequently are not readily recognized.

  17. Frank C

    June 18, 2021 at 10:38 am

    Steve Cangialosi is a solid announcer and allows the game and action on the broadcast to breathe. He is has been the local announcer for the Red Bulls for a number of years and has also worked for BEIN and has called games for MLS and SeriA.

  18. Eric T

    June 18, 2021 at 12:05 am

    Not sure why so many people don’t like Cangialosi or Moreno. They have a different voice for sure but I think they are passionate and offer a fresh approach to commentating. Might just be me.

  19. Chris

    June 17, 2021 at 11:49 am

    I actually appreciate the “niceness” in formality of the coverage of ESPN Euros. The laid-back feel comes across as very professional. I agree with you that the content of discussion could be more lively and have a bit more thought provoking debate, however some ESPN coverage of previous tournaments have shown that “fiery” commentary” and argumentative spirit of some studio analysts comes across as immature and lacks substance, even a bit egotistical (ie. arguing for arguments sake, rather than to portray a thought provoking opinion that adds to the discussion.)

    There is a way to be calm, cool, and collected, yet still step on each other’s toes. ESPN is trying to find that unique mix.

  20. Adolfo G Boutin

    June 17, 2021 at 11:43 am

    I would like to know what is the hoopla about Taylor Twellman and Espn coverage overall, in my humble opinion very few of their analyst are worth hearing out. Sebastion Salazar, Craig Burnly, Hercules Gomez, are standouts. The rest are either wanna be comedians or give literally the most mundane responses, 1st that comes to mind is Alejandro Moreno and Shaka Hislop,. I feel that ESPN gets to much praise and that is because they practically have rights to almost all major European leagues. I generally go to ESPN Deportes or Telemundo to get better analysis.

  21. JP

    June 17, 2021 at 10:50 am

    Did I just hear Chris say Alejandro Moreno’s commentary has been great? That makes me question every opinion ever held in your lifetime (joking). But in all seriousness, the announcers have been mostly awful. May be biased because seems like almost every match I’ve watched was called by Moreno or Twellman.

    World feed is almost always better, but we know the networks like to use in house talent so they can promote other offerings from the network. Simple as that. Same for ESPN using their own score/time bug.

    With regards to a timeline for tournaments going streaming, think that misses the point. No one is calling for streaming only, asking for a streaming option. ESPN can show the matches on cable or OTA while at the same time allowing it to simulcast on ESPN+. Either way, getting their approx 5 buck per subscriber (long been the cost cited for cable companies to carry ESPN)

    This isn’t just an ESPN critique. The entire industry needs to get on board, give us multiple options to watch your content. Stop fragmenting the offerings. Only HBO/HBO Max seem to understand this. Don’t have cable, can still access HBO. Don’t like streaming, can still see all your HBO on traditional TV.

    All these new services are making me watch less. Only live sports and re-runs of shows I’ve liked in the past, no energy to follow what new shows are on which streaming service etc. The “get off my lawn” rant now over.

  22. disco george

    June 16, 2021 at 2:45 pm

    Kind of funny… I had just finished the podcast at halftime of the Turkey-Wales match, and I noticed that the next break between matches featured a little more tactical analysis than I’d seen previously. First, Chris Coleman and Julie Foudy were breaking down how Wales kept getting through the Turkey back line, and then there was a Taylor Twellman-Alessandro del Piero preview on what to look for with Italy.
    I wonder if some of the “niceness” on the ESPN set is kind of a cultural thing as well. After over a year of people trying to be kinder and give each other the benefit of the doubt, and then watching a player almost die on the pitch during the opening weekend of the tournament, I’m not surprised that nobody really wants to be That Person ready to fight over a 4-3-3 vs 4-3-1-2, especially among what is more or less a group of strangers or acquaintances. The ESPN FC group is so familiar with each other that the dynamic is a lot more banter-driven and comfortable — there’s an established culture that the pre- and post-game group just doesn’t have, especially with a rotating cast.
    I think things have to improve as the stakes get higher and there’s more to analyze after this first round of group stage matches.

  23. KL

    June 16, 2021 at 10:26 am

    FYI The only reason Qatar was in the second round of wc qualifiers was because they also serve as qualifiers for the 2023 Asian Cup. Great podcast!!

  24. Eddie

    June 16, 2021 at 8:42 am

    I’m surprised that the NBCUniversal channel won’t be used as an Olympics this year. I thought that 12 Networks of English NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, msnbc, golf channel, USA, bravo, Syfy, E, Oxygen, Olympic channel. Also, Spanish networks are Telemundo and Universo. That makes 14 networks in past they do that and now there doing less television content on streaming of more coverage on Peacock and NBC sports app.

  25. Chris Guardiano

    June 16, 2021 at 2:56 am

    Hi guys,
    When it comes to major tournaments being moved to streaming, I think (and I hope it doesn’t happen) that movement will start as soon as this year’s Olympics with the men’s tournament because NBC will not want to put the majority of matches on TV in English for two reasons: to drive up Peacock subscriptions during the Olympics & possibly because the US didn’t qualify on the men’s side. Unless Brazil or Mexico are playing, the majority of men’s matches at the Olympics on the English language side will be on Peacock because there isn’t enough interest on TV especially at the time many of these matches kick off.
    The next rights deals for the World Cup & Euros will likely reflect the growing importance of streaming in my view because whoever gets them will be told by UEFA & FIFA to stream the games because that is where the audience is and the ratings are. Even though many people including myself don’t like the idea of major tournaments being streamed, it is the future and something we as fans must prepare for. Lastly I hope in the future that if major tournaments are streamed, that at least the final of the competition is put on TV because that is where the greatest opportunity is to grow the game in this country from a broadcasting perspective.

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