FOX’s MLS coverage is doing a disservice to the league this season.

So far for 2023, none of the MLS games televised by FOX Sports are being called on-site. Instead, the duo of John Strong and Stu Holden are doing double duty of providing pre-game studio coverage as well as commentating games. To make matters worse, FOX isn’t even using their own studio. Instead, they’re flying Strong and Holden to a Vista Worldlink studio in South Florida every week.

Perhaps the best word to describe FOX’s MLS coverage is nonsensical. For instance, instead of FOX Sports broadcasting Saturday afternoon’s LAFC-Portland game from the stadium or its studios in Los Angeles, Holden and Strong called the game from the same studio that USL uses in Florida. That’s also the same studio that had a backdrop resembling a shower curtain in week one.

The timing couldn’t be worse for MLS and FOX. In the two Saturday games that FOX Sports have shown thus far, they televised the opening games of the weekend. Those broadcasts set the stage for the night of coverage on Apple TV, but because the TV broadcasts start so poorly, it tarnishes the league as a whole.

FOX’s MLS coverage sets a low bar

It appears that FOX doesn’t care about the way it broadcasts games. Very little to no effort is put into their work. And at the end of the day, it makes the broadcaster, MLS and league sponsor DoorDash look cheap. It’s also a bad look for talent such as Strong and Holden to be associated with these remote broadcasts. They deserve better.

This is all in stark contrast to the work that MLS and Apple TV are doing with MLS Season Pass. Week one was impressive, with a few bumps. But week two was slicker. Overall, the league has never looked as good as it has on MLS Season Pass.

Since the games on FOX and FS1 are also on MLS Season Pass, we compared the picture quality and audio side-by-side. Apple TV’s picture is so much crisper. Plus it’s easy to hear the difference in audio quality too. You can tell the MLS Season Pass commentators are inside the stadium, for sure.

How can a league look so bad on television, but so good on streaming? By having the two extremes, the league’s coverage feels disjointed. Based on how much MLS has spent on its streaming coverage and how little FOX has spent on television, the two media are not in alignment.

Week 2 of MLS Season Pass coverage

We love that MLS and Apple are taking the feedback from fans and critics to heart, and we saw that in week two with plenty of improvements.

The whip-around MLS 360 show was tighter, less talkative and showed loads of game coverage including more instances of allowing us to listen in to the match commentators, which I particularly loved. The addition of listing the announcers at the bottom of the screen when the broadcast tuned into their match commentary was the attention to detail we appreciate.

Meanwhile, the team of Liam McHugh, Sacha Kljestan, Bradley Wright-Phillips and Kaylyn Kyle are working so well together. To me, MLS 360 is the best way to watch, learn and appreciate MLS. The news that it’s also available on Apple TV+ could give new viewers enough of a taste to add MLS Season Pass to their subscription.

On commentary, the stand-out stars on Saturday night were the duo of Eric Krakauer and Lloyd Sam for their calls of the Columbus-DC United game. Plus the addition of post-match interviews on MLS Season Pass was the cherry on top after hearing Keith Costigan and Brian Dunseth’s exceptional call of the Miami-Philadelphia game. That was followed by Costigan’s solid post-match interview where he got the best out of Inter Miami manager Phil Neville.

Guide to Major League Soccer

Here are some resources to help you get the most out of MLS Season Pass!
TV Schedule: All the info on where and when to watch every game
Season Pass FAQ: We answer your questions about MLS Season Pass
Sign up: Learn how to subscribe to MLS Season Pass
Commentators: Check out who's calling the action for the MLS season
Android users Tips for fans Android users on how to watch MLS Season Pass

Any room for improvement? MLS 360‘s fourth hour of coverage on Saturday night lost a lot of energy on-set at the time when Seattle’s game kicked off. Melissa Ortiz sat in to give some insight about the impact of MLS Season Pass in South America. However, by this point in the night, it’s almost as if MLS needed a whole new crew of analysts (or Taylor Twellman) to inject something new into the show to keep the west coast audience entertained.