These past two weeks have been a soccer lover's dream with both UEFA Euro(tm) 2016 in the morning and early afternoon, followed by the Copa Americano Centenario 2016 in the evening. Glorious! As a result, we've had the opportunity to benefit, more or less, from ESPN's and FOX's respective coverages of these tournament.
This past week, I put out retweeted an article from World Soccer Talk regarding their take on FOX's coverage:
I retweeted it without comment (a mistake, for that would imply that I totally agreed with the article, which was not my intention, good or bad) because I wanted a reaction. I only had one reply: Emma!
@RapidsSouthStds Didn't watch pre-game coverage, but wondering what they mean by "dumbed down." I'm a new(er) footy fan & some "obvious"— Emma (@storminmay) June 22, 2016
@RapidsSouthStds things might not be so obvious to me.— Emma (@storminmay) June 22, 2016
And that's a fair point, to which needs expanding, for I, too, am a "new(er) footy fan," having only followed the game week-in and week-out for about four years and on-and-off since the 2006 World Cup.
And to be clear, my goal is not to interact specifically with the article (which will happen, mind you), but to use what the article addressed to springboard into a further discussion about the point of coverage.
Comparing ESPN and FOX
Let's take a 30,000 foot look at how ESPN and FOX deal with their audiences.
ESPN has experienced, European soccer minds contributing their analysis, which provides some inside looks into the mindsets of who's on the pitch. Understandable, since ESPN spends much of their time in European soccer life. Since FOX usually covers the USA and people tune in if for no other reason than to watch the US, they keep in mind newer fans, which mean it may seem more pedantic and elementary than ESPN's.
I actually enjoy ESPN's and FOX's coverage for these differing reasons. Harris' article referenced Messi's career as narrated by Fernando Fiore. These items would never bother me. I still watch documentaries of people and subjects that I know rather well (why?) because I may find another nugget. Or I may just love revisiting an 'old friend' that this documentary covers.
Harris rightly speaks of the rah-rah nature of the pundits (well, three of them) picking the USA to beat Argentina (with only Fiore picking Argentina). He has a point there. This is where FOX needs to step up and give the viewers not simply what they may expect to hear, but to give them clear analysis of why the USA is not yet to the level of La Selección. Viewers won't turn away if they provide this type of logical, reasonable commentary.
ESPN's coverage has a more dignified field with Bob Ley and Mike Tirico filling the lead chairs. The other men that come through bring (as mentioned earlier) an insight that comes from being fully absorbed in the European football life. Do soccer fans wish this for FOX, for a classier, more dignified coverage? This has never been FOX's raison d'etre (remember when Married with Children and The Simpsons hit FOX? Innovation and edge where their markers.). I believe they try to do this with soccer.
So what do you think? Are we comparing apples and oranges when comparing ESPN's and FOX's coverage? Should FOX emulate ESPN, or are they doing well in trying to connect with potential US soccer fans? Let's talk about this.