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?
» 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.
» 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.
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.