Monday, July 06, 2009
Saw this interesting tidbit in the NY Times today, and thought I'd share. As you know, ESPN is taking over one of the many EPL international packages, and are considering devoting an entire channel to the Soccer league. Well, EPL fans are some of the most, if not the most dedicated viewers in the world, and analysts are predicting a tough go of it for the "Leader"....
But ESPN will have to make its mark quickly, analysts say, because it will have fewer games after the coming season.I can't imagine the amount of pressure ESPN feels right now, but if any network can handle the short turnaround time, it's them. Some sports completely speak for themselves, and Soccer is certainly one of them. Hopefully they can pull it off, get the right announcers in place, and not completely alienate the international Soccer fan.
“If they haven’t established the coverage with the Premier League next season, then they are going to have a lot of ground to cover,” said Tim Westcott, an analyst at Screen Digest, a research company in London.
As Mr. Wolff [managing director of ESPN International] noted, ESPN has considerable experience with international sports. It used to own 33 percent of Eurosport, a pan-European channel controlled by the French broadcaster TF1, but sold that in 2002. It showed World Cup soccer matches in Brazil in 2006 and broadcasts top cricket events in India. It produces SportsCenter, a sports news show, in 14 versions for audiences around the world.
ESPN also owns Web sites with global appeal, like Cricinfo, which is about cricket; Scrum, which covers rugby; and Racing Live, about Formula 1 auto racing.
Still, few sports fans are as demanding, or as tribal in their passions, as followers of Premier League soccer. American involvement in the game has been a sore subject at clubs like Manchester United and Liverpool, where fans objected to takeovers by American owners.
With everything related to ESPN’s coverage of the Premier League, from camera angles to analyst comments, likely to be scrutinized for signs of a hidden agenda of Disneyfication, Mr. Chadwick had some advice for ESPN: “There is a strong sense of counterculture in English football. They can’t be too glitzy, they can’t be too showbiz, they can’t be too American.”
ESPN’s British Soccer Deal Highlights Global Push (NY Times)