ESPN Offers The Why On Tyler & Dellacamera

Did ESPN "short circuit" it's World Cup coverage? (If you get this movie reference, you're an old man like us....)

TSG was able to reach out to ESPN today on changes occurring in their soccer coverage (the television broadcast & the web site, Soccernet). We’ll be aggregating some feedback over this week and throwing down a column or two next week as soon as we get some time from ESPN.

TSG also reached out to a few community members to help us with our questions over to S-pen. We’ll tease our follow-up piece with a response offered by ESPN on a question by TSG community member, Dan (of Free Beer Movement fame).

Let it be said first that while TSG will be uncompromising in our review of ESPN’s coverage, that the good folks over at ESPN are always helpful and punctual in replying to our requests. Whether we send them questions that focus on the positive, or the negative, we always get quick, informational, professional responses. Thanks guys at ESPN.

Now this from ESPN on World Cup announcers.

Dan’s question: The main commentators for the 2010 World Cup are going to be British for ESPN.  And while I readily acknowledge that our domestic broadcasting talent is not on par with the like of Martin Tyler.. isn’t ESPN obligated to grow and nurture on-air soccer talent?

ESPN’s response:

» We went for the best English-language commentators in the world for the WC matches (a global event).

» We are approaching our coverage from a global perspective.

Dellacamera

» JP Dellacamera, who is arguably the best U.S. play-by-play commentator for soccer, has the lead role on ESPN Radio’s WC coverage, a major initiative for the company that we expect will grow with time (why not put a recognizable face/commentator on that platform to boost its value from the get go).

» If you agree that Tyler is the best and Tyler is the lead commentator for WC on TV, then assigning JP, a lead U.S. voice, to be lead on Radio and call the title match on radio from site (a first for the service/English-language radio in U.S.) makes sense.

As a soccer/sports fan who understands how big the WC is, I think you’ll agree ESPN will be underserving soccer fans if (it) uses the biggest stage of any sporting event to “grow and nurture on-air soccer talent.”  (see feedback from 2006 WC).

Besides, that is not ESPN’s obligation. Our role as business that serves sports fan is to “present the WC in a way that celebrates and acknowledges the event/teams/athletes in a month-long competition that features the world’s best on sport’s biggest stage.”

Feedback from TSG  on ESPN’s response:

First on the response itself, I love that it’s direct. So often TSG asks questions and the response actually waffles or is not clear on what the message is. That’s a positive.

Marvelous Martin...

I generally agree with ESPN’s feedback. Depending on how you feel about Dellacamera, it’s hard not select a Martin Tyler. Tyler is both good and a personality and his inclusion by ESPN legitimizes their coverage in my mind…in essence, they didn’t “just go with what they had.” It shows effort by ESPN. Continually at least ESPN gave their own number one guy the green light to call the title match, even if on radio. What are Dellacamera’s other announcing options if he doesn’t like the situation. Is there a better place to work than ESPN?

From a businessman’s standpoint, I have to “like” ESPN’s response that leads with “that is not ESPN’s obligation” in reference to growing and nurturing talent. ESPN, as someone who went to broadcasting school at Newhouse, is the the top echelon. Broadcasters should strive to reach that pinnacle in their career. They should nurture their careers before arriving.

Thanks Dan for a great question and ESPN for the answer.

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15 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by patrickhattrick on 2010/03/16 at 6:05 PM

    I like that they take the World Cup to seriously to experiment. That is a good thing. Experiment during MLS. Experiment during EPL games and La Liga. Even try it in a less significant Champions League match. You start your best eleven during the World Cup. That means Martin Tyler, Andy Gray, and a heck of a pregame and postgame show. Put Americans on during Sportscenter to talk about it. By the way, I am expecting(and by that, I mean demanding) that ESPN zero in on the World Cup by the middle of May. I think you know what that means. Insane amounts of coverage. Soccer live, not NFL live. Soccer in the front of the bottom line, not second-to-last. Super soccer coverage.

    Reply

    • You mean taking it too seriously to experiment this time around. Have you forgotten/forgiven them for the Balboa-Dan O’Brien pairing in 2006? I still haven’t.

      Reply

  2. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/03/16 at 6:08 PM

    Just a FYI: Tyler is contracted to Sky Sports which is a subscription channel in the UK. FIFA’s broadcasting policy is that ‘everybody should have the right to watch the World Cup’, and as such, the rights went to free-to-view BBC and ITV. This means that Tyler has ‘no work’ this summer with Sky. It makes me wonder what ESPN’s stance would have been if Tyler was still with ITV? To me, it seems that they were fortunate in the policy, rather than it being a proactively and strategic aquisition.

    No doubt somebody’s going to make a comment about soft imperialism!

    Reply

    • It’s funny that you mention that everyone should have the right to watch the World Cup because over here ESPN has it and if I’m not mistaken that is a channel that can only be seen if you have paid for basic cable.

      Reply

      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/03/16 at 6:59 PM

        That’s why I said “subscription” channel – the US equivalent is FSC, no? I am 100% positive that if Sky were allowed to bid, then they would blow BBC and ITV out of the water with the resources that they have…

        Reply

      • even if you don’t have the basic cable you can still watch the games on espn360 and abc and one of the spanish channels (galavision?) that is included with most basic cable packages is available. ESPN can not be seen with just basic cable, you have to have the expanded cable to watch it.

        Reply

        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/03/17 at 5:39 AM

          You’re right – I have FSC so don’t think about it. I guess the point is that the USA doesn’t have a State-run TV channel, right?

          Reply

        • Posted by KMac on 2010/03/17 at 9:14 AM

          Thank goodness our channels aren’t state run…we’d be watching, helmet footbal, nascar,
          bowling and healthcare reform 24/7! ; >

          Reply

  3. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/03/16 at 6:18 PM

    What would have been a great coup for ESPN, is John Motson. He is The Man when it comes to football commentary. Serious legend in England – the equivalent to Murray Walker in F1. Not sure if you guys have heard of Motson since Sky has a stranglehold on the EPL.

    Reply

  4. Posted by Smitty on 2010/03/17 at 3:10 PM

    I am a 39 year old fan of American spectator sports, who grew up playing football, basketball and baseball. I still watch a lot of those sports, and watch Sportscenter typically once or twice a day. In short, I am probably right in the sweet spot of ESPN viewers. In the last 10 years, as my kids have grown in soccer, so too have I grown to love soccer, and I love to watch it on TV. Am as excited about the WC as anybody, and am very pleased with the level of promotion ESPN is currently giving it.

    Thus, I hope I have some cred, and I hope some programming types at the WWL are listening when I say that I have already gotten sick of the World Cup commercial you are currently running. I mean, thanks for promoting it so much, but its time for a new commercial already.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/03/17 at 3:21 PM

      Not to dissect your very valid comments Smitty — but I assume you’re talking about the Martin Tyler announcing commercial.

      …and I concur…it’s World Cup 2010 and the focus of your commercial is a voiceover in the first-person by Tyler with a cameo by him at the end.

      Really?! I am excited for the World Cup because of an announcer. I’ll have to find my other comment that I was made that was similar.

      Here are some commercial ideas:

      Something around the Golden Boot — Wayne, Drogba, Messi, maybe even Torres Something around Italian squad now…like a profile of their players and ask the question if they are ready to defend their championship In the US, something about Spain — talk about how great they are…and then their lone loss. (As a NY Giant fan, I took great pride in the slogan 18-1 campaign after the SB…sorry Pats fans…http://www.bustedtees.com/18-1)

      Reply

  5. Posted by itally on 2010/03/17 at 4:14 PM

    am i the only one who wants ray hudson to announce the wc? i’d pay to hear that man read the phone book.

    Reply

  6. Posted by scott on 2010/03/18 at 2:09 PM

    The fact that John Harkes name is not even mentioned brings me great happiness. We are afflicted with terribleness as US soccer fans. terrible.

    Reply

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