- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On December 17, 2007
- 10 Comments
This has been something I had been thinking up for a number of weeks here. Most of you may be like me and get utterly annoyed at how ESPN does MLS games. And in light of ESPN’s interest in broadcasting future EPL games, it got me thinking even more about what the Worldwide Leader needs to do to improve their broadcasts.
The interest is there really. ESPN is paying for the rights now days (as well as other networks carrying the games) and that is a good thing for the league but it seems like the MLS and ESPN need to get on the same page. The broadcasting on ESPN seems to be a joke for the most part and the coverage is pathetic in my eyes on ESPN’s part.
So here are a few ways to help that out:
- Improve the broadcasters: In a way for me it starts here with the guys calling the games. Most of you know my dislike for the Dave O’Brien and Rob Stones of the world, but in a way both make the game unwatchable to me. More O’Brien than Stone though. At least Stone knows the game, O’Brien has no general knowledge of the game, he is just a greedy broadcaster who likes to hear his own voice as much as he can. Getting annoucers that know the game and don’t sound like they are going to die when they call a goal will go a long way. Plus, saying words like “YEEEESSSSSSS” for a goal call just eats at me. Nothing beats “Its in the net” if you ask me.
- Two-Man Booth: I hate to say it but the three-man booth never has worked for me. Its nothing against the two color commentators but what it tells me is that ESPN still has yet to find a solid number one soccer play-by-play guy and that is why they stick two in there to make the broadcasts “better”. To me it must be eliminated because we end up listening to too much random BS about whatever those guys want to talk about that day/night. In the end it takes away from the game and looks bad on ESPN
- Tommy Smyth: I love the guy, he is actually one of the best out there for soccer but I hate him in the MLS scene. Its nothing against him but I always feel that ESPN put him on there to try to please two different groups, the non-soccer fans who think that they need to hear a European talk to make it seem more soccer-ish, and the true soccer fans who may think the only way to experience a soccer game is by listening to a European. Honestly, it doesn’t work for the MLS in that sense. ESPN would be better served putting Smyth back on the scene with the European games that they do. Maybe once they get the EPL games on there he will be the lead color guy for that, and honestly he should be.
- Rosters Shown Before the Game Starts: I hate seeing the rosters go up on the bottom of the screen while the game is going on. Its like they are all in a rush at the beginning of the game to tell you little facts and the game starts and then the broadcasters almost hit a panic button to tell you the rosters and formation. Take the 30 to 45 seconds and do it before the kickoff. Believe me it would come across so much better if they did.
- Mic the Supporter’s Sections: Or at least put a microphone near them to make it sound loud on TV. Sometimes the games are too quiet and you know there are people there banging on drummers or something. Let us hear it if we can’t.
- Improve the knowledge of soccer for the anchors and reporters: Its embarassing when I hear Chivas being called something other than how it is pronounced. Also the same goes with the players names and coaches.
- More highlights on SportsCenter: They pay for the rights yet in their top-10 you see more EPL and European goals than MLS goals. That makes no sense to me really. Sure its the EPL but if I were paying for the MLS I would want their goals in my highlight reels not a league that I don’t carry. Plus, getting at least 20 seconds on SportsCenter that isn’t David Beckham will help grow the sport to non-traditional fans.
- Putting games on ESPN Radio or create an MLS Radio channel for satellite: I am a big radio guy if you all haven’t taken notice by now. I would love nothing more than to have an MLS radio channel or see ESPN do a game of the week on their radio stations. To me soccer is a great game to listen to on the radio, its very natural for some reason to me and can be very entertaining to listen to if you get the right people involved.
- More talk on ESPN Radio: This kinda goes with the last point and some others, the cross-promotion really of soccer on ESPN. I know most of the radio people at ESPN hate soccer but giving it a little time in a SportsCenter update or something is better than nothing in my eyes. It still helps grow the sport even in a little way. I’m also not calling for each radio show on there to spend two mintues talking soccer each day because I know that won’t happen but at least mentioning it in a positive manner would be enough to make some happy I think.
- Promoting the games: I loved the ads this past season for the MLS games but I wanted to see more.
- Put more games on ABC: I think this would be a wise move on the MLS and ESPN parts to put a game here and there on ABC again. Its annoying to see three games on ABC a year now (season opener, All-Star game, and MLS Cup). The more exposure on ABC the better I think.
- Remove the sideline reporter: I never understood the concept of a sideline reporter for a soccer game. Never have and never will. They are only needed for injuries and maybe even discussion of subsitutions, but I’d honestly leave that up to the color commentator. I don’t need to hear pointless panter between Stone and Allen Hopkins. It provides me nothing more than a waste of time really and just shows how worthless some of the play-by-play people are if they have to kill mintues in a game with meaningless panter about different players.
- Create a highlight show: Even if it airs at 3 in the morning, it needs to be done. That’s how Baseball Tonight and NFL Live started, they aired late nights on ESPN 2, do the same with a MLS show.
- Improve halftime show: This goes with the improving knowledge part from earlier. Put more MLS highlights and have people talking MLS during half-time of the game on ESPN. On Thursday night, preview the weekend games, recap what’s been going on, etc.
- Market to the Soccer Fan, not the non-soccer fan: This is the biggie in my opinion. Too many times the MLS tries to market to the non-soccer fan more than the casual fan and the actual soccer fan. That’s not the route both ESPN and the MLS need to take. Market to the actual fans of the game and that will get more fans over from the casual side and eventually get some of those non-fans into the mix.
So just a few things that I think could go a long way to improve the quality of the broadcasts on ESPN and other ESPN type outlets. This stuff can probably a whole hell of a lot more can be said about some other local broadcasters and FSC for the MLS. I will say this, I do enjoy some Red Bull and Revs games because of their broadcast groups. Teams like Colorado and LA, not so much.
What are some of your suggestions?