WC Broadcasting

SocrManiac

Tommy Seebach’s mustache
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Apr 15, 2006
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Somers, CT
Fox is already facing criticism for its coverage. When contrasting with BBC and Telemundo, that seems fair. There has to be commentary around the issues surrounding this World Cup.

Today’s commentary team was clearly excited for the US to play tomorrow and that’s absolutely warranted. I found the coverage to be high on enthusiasm and low on insight. I know we have to recalibrate for the wider audience (remember “The ball is out over the line, that will be a goal kick for the defending team” a cup or two back?), but it doesn’t need to be as banal as it was today.

Regardless, those of us listening in the US need to take a moment to appreciate that Gus fucking Johnson was being groomed to be the voice of the World Cup. Thank absolutely everything good in this world that Fox came to the blindingly obvious conclusion that he isn’t cut out for the sport.
 

SocrManiac

Tommy Seebach’s mustache
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Apr 15, 2006
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JP and Cobi are borderline unlistenable. JP has no volume control, no sense of the game, doesn’t bother to pronounce anything correctly, and can’t let anything breathe.

Cobi is as vanilla, uninspired, and unintelligent as a color commentator as he was as a player.
 

DJnVa

Dorito Dawg
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Dec 16, 2010
49,913
That number is higher than the average viewers in the last 4 NBA finals. The last World Series game with more viewers was Game 7 in 2019.
 

OCST

Sunny von Bulow
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Jan 10, 2004
22,992
The 718
For the sake of growth of the game I wish the game had been better. I was entertained but it was not memorable. USA played well and showed some fire but England did neither. Low scoring games can be tense in the second half because any one moment of quality/one gruesome error can decide it, but unfortunately this was a 0-0 draw that was a little too 0-0-ish for someone new to the game.
 

Ale Xander

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Oct 31, 2013
57,426
If they somehow get to the Quarters, that’s gonna pull in insane ratings.
 

SocrManiac

Tommy Seebach’s mustache
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Apr 15, 2006
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I think it's time to discuss the commentary teams in detail.

I rarely have time to sit down in front of the TV while a match is on. I'm always doing other things unless I can set aside the time for something special (USA v. England, for instance). The most important thing for me is that I can really understand whether or not I should come rushing into the room. This is what made Gus Johnson such a caricature- he was Austin Powers unable to control the volume of his voice.

Beyond that, I'd like the commentary to allow the game to breathe, use the crowd, and provide the context needed to more fully appreciate what's going on.

I do not enjoy: commentary that thinks its the star (Ray Hudson), shouting/screaming, and useless filler.

  • John Strong and Stu Holden
    • It's really, really hard to believe this is what Fox perceives to be their best pairing. Strong hates silence, cannot modulate his excitement in a way that correlates with the play, and cannot anticipate anything that's going on. His excited voice simply is shouting without any inflection that suggests happiness, anger, or other. And it can happen for a throw-in at midfield.
    • Stu Holden might be the right guy, but it's impossible to tell next to Strong. I'll give Holden a slight pass because Strong is just not the flagship guy he's been forced to be.
    • Grade: C- (probably higher if they didn't get the big matches)
  • JP Dellacamera and Cobi Jones
    • JP is the worst play by play commentator in Fox's lineup and it isn't even close. Anything I look for in commentary he either can't do or violates. He has no clue when to get excited, very little clue what is happening in front of him, and can't lead Cobi into saying anything useful. That may be as much on Cobi as it is on JP as Cobi has very little insight. He also cannot be bothered to even attempt to get names right. Whether easy (Mbappe) or more difficult (Carvajal), he butchers it.
    • Cobi is uninspiring, boring, and forgettable.
    • Grade: F
  • Derek Rae and Aly Wagner
    • When I come downstairs after the games have finished and still hear Derek Rae, it's a toss-up whether there's a real game's replay on or my son is playing FIFA. His voice is iconic in footy. He may not be at the peak of his prime anymore, but he's still fantastic.
    • Aly Wagner has the most potential of any of these color folks. My biggest criticism of female WC color commentary in the past was that they analyzed the men's game in the context of the women's game (Julie Foudy is notorious for this). Aly has the pipes and she analyzes the men's game as its own variant. If she can learn to modulate her tone and volume she'll be fantastic.
    • Grade: B+/A-
  • Ian Darke and Landon Donovan
    • Ian is another legend, though another not at the impressive heights of his peak. He's still better than most.
    • Landon Donovan is a leaf blower. He drones on and on and on. It's almost difficult to hear what he has to say, which is a shame because he's had some incredible insight and predications. When he says something is about to happen, it does. He's brilliant in his analysis. His voice is fingernails on a chalkboard.
    • Grade: B
  • Jacqui Oatley and Warren Barton
    • Jacqui is the surprise standout to me. She allows the game to flow, uses silence, had a good working knowledge of the game, and can modulate her voice. I would love to hear her alongside Holden to see if Stu can do the job.
    • Warren got into a story about Jacqui during a match this weekend and it grated. That's the useless filler that I really don't care for. It's been an exception and not the rule, however. He's competent and innocuous enough.
    • Grade: A
I think Fox has tried to generate as much of its Sunday NFL shows as it can out of the studio crews. Forced humor, people laughing too loudly, shouting over each other, poor or non-existent analysis... Leave that crap for the NFL. Watch some Rebecca Lowe with the two Robbies and get back to me. Fortunately, this can be easily ignored and doesn't really hurt or help my enjoyment of the World Cup.
 

Jeff Van GULLY

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Jul 13, 2005
3,940
Nice ratings and I agree with the American commentators being boring or worse. Color guys/gals haven't been great either but I do enjoy Aly Wagner.

I'm still disappointed that Fox didn't bring on Jon Champion. He's my favorite after Ian Darke.

Derek Rae, I get why people like him and I've become accustomed to him on FIFA as well after the many sterling years of Martin Tyler, but I just don't like his voice as much as Champion and Darke.
 

Merkle's Boner

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Apr 24, 2011
3,445
Derek Rae and Ally Wagner have been my favorites. I love the way Rae insists. On pronouncing each name accurately, although I can see how it may be grating on some American viewers. And I think Ally has been my favorite color commentator, with insightful analysis and smart discussion of strategy.
 

singaporesoxfan

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Jul 21, 2004
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I think it's time to discuss the commentary teams in detail.

I rarely have time to sit down in front of the TV while a match is on. I'm always doing other things unless I can set aside the time for something special (USA v. England, for instance). The most important thing for me is that I can really understand whether or not I should come rushing into the room. This is what made Gus Johnson such a caricature- he was Austin Powers unable to control the volume of his voice.

Beyond that, I'd like the commentary to allow the game to breathe, use the crowd, and provide the context needed to more fully appreciate what's going on.

I do not enjoy: commentary that thinks its the star (Ray Hudson), shouting/screaming, and useless filler.

  • John Strong and Stu Holden
    • It's really, really hard to believe this is what Fox perceives to be their best pairing. Strong hates silence, cannot modulate his excitement in a way that correlates with the play, and cannot anticipate anything that's going on. His excited voice simply is shouting without any inflection that suggests happiness, anger, or other. And it can happen for a throw-in at midfield.
    • Stu Holden might be the right guy, but it's impossible to tell next to Strong. I'll give Holden a slight pass because Strong is just not the flagship guy he's been forced to be.
    • Grade: C- (probably higher if they didn't get the big matches)
  • JP Dellacamera and Cobi Jones
    • JP is the worst play by play commentator in Fox's lineup and it isn't even close. Anything I look for in commentary he either can't do or violates. He has no clue when to get excited, very little clue what is happening in front of him, and can't lead Cobi into saying anything useful. That may be as much on Cobi as it is on JP as Cobi has very little insight. He also cannot be bothered to even attempt to get names right. Whether easy (Mbappe) or more difficult (Carvajal), he butchers it.
    • Cobi is uninspiring, boring, and forgettable.
    • Grade: F
  • Derek Rae and Aly Wagner
    • When I come downstairs after the games have finished and still hear Derek Rae, it's a toss-up whether there's a real game's replay on or my son is playing FIFA. His voice is iconic in footy. He may not be at the peak of his prime anymore, but he's still fantastic.
    • Aly Wagner has the most potential of any of these color folks. My biggest criticism of female WC color commentary in the past was that they analyzed the men's game in the context of the women's game (Julie Foudy is notorious for this). Aly has the pipes and she analyzes the men's game as its own variant. If she can learn to modulate her tone and volume she'll be fantastic.
    • Grade: B+/A-
  • Ian Darke and Landon Donovan
    • Ian is another legend, though another not at the impressive heights of his peak. He's still better than most.
    • Landon Donovan is a leaf blower. He drones on and on and on. It's almost difficult to hear what he has to say, which is a shame because he's had some incredible insight and predications. When he says something is about to happen, it does. He's brilliant in his analysis. His voice is fingernails on a chalkboard.
    • Grade: B
  • Jacqui Oatley and Warren Barton
    • Jacqui is the surprise standout to me. She allows the game to flow, uses silence, had a good working knowledge of the game, and can modulate her voice. I would love to hear her alongside Holden to see if Stu can do the job.
    • Warren got into a story about Jacqui during a match this weekend and it grated. That's the useless filler that I really don't care for. It's been an exception and not the rule, however. He's competent and innocuous enough.
    • Grade: A
I think Fox has tried to generate as much of its Sunday NFL shows as it can out of the studio crews. Forced humor, people laughing too loudly, shouting over each other, poor or non-existent analysis... Leave that crap for the NFL. Watch some Rebecca Lowe with the two Robbies and get back to me. Fortunately, this can be easily ignored and doesn't really hurt or help my enjoyment of the World Cup.
I think all your ratings are spot on. Stu Holden has been good in what I've heard from him outside this World Cup, but John Strong is a TV anchor... in that he drags people linked to him down into the ocean where everything sounds terrible.

My brother is coming into the US for a visit in a couple of weeks from Singapore, where we get only Brit commentators. I'm going to be very curious to hear his reaction to the Fox broadcasters.
 

loshjott

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Dec 30, 2004
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Did Fox have any say over the USA game schedule? It seems like it. All first round games at 2pm Eastern. No Sunday game to conflict with NFL football. And now the Sat knock out game will be mostly wrapped up before college conference championships.
 

Vinho Tinto

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Dec 9, 2003
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Auburn, MA
Did Fox have any say over the USA game schedule? It seems like it. All first round games at 2pm Eastern. No Sunday game to conflict with NFL football. And now the Sat knock out game will be mostly wrapped up before college conference championships.
Fox has no say. The match times and venues are tied to the draw.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

Found no thrill on Blueberry Hill
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Sep 9, 2008
36,011
AZ
I was digging Darke and Donovan today. Not sure why but it was better today.

Maybe helps just to know subliminally how these guys are linked by one of the greatest moments in U.S. Soccer history.
 

singaporesoxfan

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Still like Oatley, but she had a serious brain fart today where she thought Germany would go through if they were winning and Japan was winning
 

allstonite

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Oct 27, 2010
2,144
Still like Oatley, but she had a serious brain fart today where she thought Germany would go through if they were winning and Japan was winning
Confused the hell out of me after I thought I had figured it all out but agree they’ve been great so far and I don’t mind Donovan as much as others. His voice is weird but he can be insightful and I’ll always love him and Dempsey
 

SocrManiac

Tommy Seebach’s mustache
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Apr 15, 2006
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Hilarious takedown of Fox's coverage by the Brits. A few one liners:

"Whereas the USMNT is now a cosmopolitan ensemble of feather-fine talents, the Fox team is the equivalent of a farmers’ league XI that hoofs it long and hopes for the best."

"The correspondences between American military adventurism and international sports broadcasting may be faint, but the Fox crew has done its best to bring them to the forefront, applying the can-do spirit of Iraq 2003 to its coverage of Qatar 2022."

A favorite: "In a big tournament you always want your biggest players to show up, and Lalas, who often gives the impression that he’s being paid by the decibel, has not let the Fox team down this Mundial."
 

Nick Kaufman

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The few moments I 've seen Lalas, he comes across as an unbelievable kneejerk hothead.
 

Nick Kaufman

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The female play by play person (Oatley?) has been great though, although sometimes she gives me the impression she's flirting with Barton.
 

SocrManiac

Tommy Seebach’s mustache
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Apr 15, 2006
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The female play by play person (Oatley?) has been great though, although sometimes she gives me the impression she's flirting with Barton.
They form the only acceptable team in the entire batch. Fox should be mortified by the performance of the rest.
 

joe dokes

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Jul 18, 2005
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The few moments I 've seen Lalas, he comes across as an unbelievable kneejerk hothead.
I can't quite put my finger on it, but he seems to spend about 10 times more time and energy telling us his opinion of what happened without any real analysis of what actualy happened.
 

mjs

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Mar 30, 2020
24
The female play by play person (Oatley?) has been great though, although sometimes she gives me the impression she's flirting with Barton.
I first heard Jacqui Oatley while listening to Wolves podcasts a couple of years back (before the Athletic cancelled it). She partnered with Tim Spiers and they were excellent. She is a real pro and I think a fantastic audio presence. She does lean into the playful banter with her male host, just her style I guess. She apparently has been trailblazer for women broadcasting in English football. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacqui_Oatley
 

dirtynine

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Dec 17, 2002
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Well, the Guardian has strong opinions about Fox's WC coverage in the US.

Off-field controversy has clouded this tournament from the day Sepp Blatter pulled Qatar’s name out of the envelope in 2010, but you wouldn’t know anything about that from watching Fox. The BBC relegated the opening ceremony to an online-only stream, preferring instead to air a long report on Qatari human rights abuses. Fox went in completely the opposite direction, airing the whole ceremony and following up with “a look at exploring Qatar, sponsored by the Qatar Foundation”. Many have taken Fox to task for glossing over the rottenness at the heart of this tournament – its legacy of crass commercialization and death. But to be fair, this is not the first time that a group of Americans has blundered into a country in the Middle East without bothering to fully educate itself about the facts on the ground first. The correspondences between American military adventurism and international sports broadcasting may be faint, but the Fox crew has done its best to bring them to the forefront, applying the can-do spirit of Iraq 2003 to its coverage of Qatar 2022.
It's a great overall rant, although I think the author misses the fact that a lot of the "dumb" comments really are necessary for American audiences. JP Dellacamera, whatever you think about him, has a little more context about Mbappe than his American-facing commentary might let on. And the stuff trying to draw a line between the coverage of this tournament and our approach to Iraq is a bit over the top.

In any event, worth a read. I liked the description of Landon as "both exceptionally boring and weirdly aggressive" - not that dissimilar from his playing style!
 

candylandriots

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The few moments I 've seen Lalas, he comes across as an unbelievable kneejerk hothead.
I am kinda friends with a guy who went to college with him, and he said he’s kind of a jerk. Lalas also used to call this guy “Al Franken” and once he told me that, I couldn’t unsee it. So I guess Lalas is perceptive in that way.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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I am kinda friends with a guy who went to college with him, and he said he’s kind of a jerk. Lalas also used to call this guy “Al Franken” and once he told me that, I couldn’t unsee it. So I guess Lalas is perceptive in that way.
Lalas sees a relatively open lane, which is being a soccer version of an American sports talk radio inflected blowhard, and he goes for it. I dislike his objective greatly, but cannot fault his ability at hitting the target.
 

singaporesoxfan

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Well, the Guardian has strong opinions about Fox's WC coverage in the US.



It's a great overall rant, although I think the author misses the fact that a lot of the "dumb" comments really are necessary for American audiences. JP Dellacamera, whatever you think about him, has a little more context about Mbappe than his American-facing commentary might let on. And the stuff trying to draw a line between the coverage of this tournament and our approach to Iraq is a bit over the top.

In any event, worth a read. I liked the description of Landon as "both exceptionally boring and weirdly aggressive" - not that dissimilar from his playing style!
In thinking more about it, what Fox maybe needs is not a "dumb-it-down-for-Americans" commentator, but a Tony Romo type that can really explain to a layman what's happening in a way that shows the joy of soccer. Like, using telestrators to break down what is happening would be pretty American in style, and yet would add a ton of information for an audience
 

Nick Kaufman

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Lalas sees a relatively open lane, which is being a soccer version of an American sports talk radio inflected blowhard, and he goes for it. I dislike his objective greatly, but cannot fault his ability at hitting the target.
You said it better than I. Blowhard was the word I was searching for.