ESPN/ABC's Euro 2008 Commentators Will Call All The Action From A TV In Bristol, Connecticut

Friday, May 30, 2008

Obviously it's a huge cost cutting measure to keep your commentators at home rather then send them to another Country, but the practice is usually reserved for smaller events than Euro 2008. According to USA Today that's going to be the case for Derek Rae, Andy Gray and crew this June....

ABC/ESPN will televise 31 games in the tournament, which only aired on pay-per-view TV in the U.S. in 2004 and 2000. The networks normally use American announcers in part to help explain the sport to novice fans. All game announcers this time, however, are foreign-born: Gray, Adrian Healey, Robbie Mustoe, Derek Rae and Tommy Smyth. They'll call it off TV monitors at ESPN's Connecticut offices. "It's a departure for us, a nod towards the game's globalization," said Tim Scanlan, who's overseeing ABC/ESPN coverage.
I know it's not really that big of a deal, but for some reason it really bothers me. Something is lost when the announcers can't get a feel of the crowd and the atmosphere of the game. ESPN did this for the 2007 FIBA Championships in Las Vegas (Allllll the way to Las Vegas? Let's save some coin!) and it just didn't come off right. That was an extremely small viewing audience though, and while Soccer in the U.S. might not get huge ratings this event should be big enough to foot the bill.

Euro 2008 (USA Today)

Posted by Awful Announcing- at 7:30 AM


I don't think this is new for ESPN. I don't think they announced it but a month or two ago during one of the earlier rounds of the Champions League, Tommy Smyth was one of the commentators on a game in Europe one afternoon and was in Bristol for First Take the next morning. It's totally possible that he flew back but it seems pretty unlikely that they'd cart him back to Bristol for a studio appearance when they frequently have guests by remote or phone.

doublenicks said...
May 30, 2008, 8:59:00 AM  

Yeah they do this for the CL as well. The only game they did from the stadium was the final. It's kind of lame, as you would think that the one network with a monopoly on sports coverage could afford to send some people to Switzerland.

Anonymous said...
May 30, 2008, 9:44:00 AM  

I don't think this is that bad. They have done this for all of the non-North American Formula One races ever since the races were on ESPN2 back in the day.

Scott Fendley said...
May 30, 2008, 9:57:00 AM  

AA, there has been waaaaaay too much soccer here the past few weeks and not nearly enough cup stacking.

GMoney said...
May 30, 2008, 10:32:00 AM  

This was a terrible decision made by CBS during the Final Four and I do think it takes away from the feel of the broadcast.

The whole sending announcers to Europe I can sort of understand, but not when the event is in your own country.

Taylor said...
May 30, 2008, 11:18:00 AM  

...yet they are spending money to travel to find out where "titletown usa" is. I hate ESPN sometimes

Anonymous said...
May 30, 2008, 11:19:00 AM  

I find it highly ironic that the MSM derides bloggers for sitting at home and commenting on sports without actually attending the events, but then the largest sports media monopoly on the planet does virtually the same thing with a huge worldwide event.

I have an idea - why not let AA, Will and some other big time bloggers cover the Euro Cup, too?!

Anonymous said...
May 30, 2008, 12:35:00 PM  

I will gladly take veteran European announcers in a studio over novice American announcers doing the game live in Austria and Switzerland.

odessasteps said...
May 30, 2008, 12:56:00 PM  

They already call all their European Soccer content, ie the Champions League, from Bristol. I love how Tommy Smythe is always making shit up he clearly can't see any better than us because he's watching the same replays.

Anonymous said...
May 30, 2008, 2:39:00 PM  

ESPN sent a crew to Moscow for the Champions League final on May 21. But, yes, otherwise they worked out of Bristol.

I'm guessing hotel and expenses was the biggest concern. This is a 22-day tournament, from June 7 to June 29. That's a lot of hotels, train trips and per diems.

That said, I'm looking forward to Andy Gray on ESPN. You might recognize the wacky Scotsman from EA Sports' FIFA video game series.

Anonymous said...
May 30, 2008, 3:09:00 PM  

Since they only have two announcing teams, it would be almost impossible to send them to every game and do it live. Both teams would be dead tired from the amount of travel involved.

Also, ESPN already poined up and sent JP Delacamera and John Harks over to London and to Barcelona to do the USA-England and USA-Spain games right from the stadiums.

As for calling the games in front of a monitor, all of them including Andy Grey have done it before and they do a pretty decent job of it. It should be a fun tournament to watch esp with Grey. He is fantastic on the English games he covers.

Anonymous said...
May 30, 2008, 3:40:00 PM  

Didn't ESPN broadcast an earlier world cup(2002 or 2006) from Bristol?

Jason said...
May 30, 2008, 4:09:00 PM  

ESPN Deportes teams:

#1 Fernando Palomo - Mario Kempes
#2 Ciro Procuna - Rafael Puente

Eduardo Biscayart
Richard Mendez
Jose Ramon Fernandez

Also from a TV.

Anonymous said...
May 30, 2008, 5:09:00 PM  

On 2006 ESPN sent three announcing teams and last year sent JP and Foudy to China.

Anonymous said...
May 30, 2008, 5:11:00 PM  

Several teams worked from a studio during the 2006 World Cup, including Adrian Healey and Tommy Smyth.

Anonymous said...
May 30, 2008, 8:47:00 PM  

Not a big deal, you won't be able to tell they aren't there. Sky Sports even does it for EPL games, the commentators are in London for a game in Newcastle. FSC and GolTV both do it for Serie A, La Liga, and Bundesliga games.

Scott said...
May 30, 2008, 8:48:00 PM  

I do agree it appears to be common practice, but I think if you're going to televise the thing you should go actually be there covering it, regardless of the sport. Sure, it doesn't affect the commentary...but just the fact we know the people reporting the action aren't actually there...just leaves me with a bad vibe about it. I know Formula 1 coverage has been like that for quite awhile and it sounds from the other comments here soccer fans are quite used to this.

Sportsattitude said...
May 31, 2008, 3:09:00 PM  

Getting Andy Gray is a phenomenal coup for ESPN, he is pretty much the best colour guy in the UK. Wonder how he'll enjoy spending a month in Bristol...

Anonymous said...
Jun 1, 2008, 7:31:00 AM  

First of all... ESPN only sent like five people from Connecticut. The rest of the staff were from the networks in Argentina and Mexico. Hey Moscow is the most expensive city in the world. Plus they spend a good deal of their budget paying Clarence Seedorf to guest on both networks.

JP Dellacamera was told he had to do Euro and MLS simultaneously... he passed.

Hey as far as the announcers... Tommy with a Y is just pure schtick. Really listen to what he says.

All I could say is that at least we have these guys instead of Dave O'Brien again. He along wit some of the other US announcers might not be able to point out any of the countries on a map.

By the way the ESPN Deportes guys are going to be part of them in Europe, others in Bristol, and the rest in Mexico City.

Juan said...
Jun 3, 2008, 12:36:00 AM  

Getting Andy Gray is a phenomenal coup for ESPN, he is pretty much the best colour guy in the UK. Wonder how he'll enjoy spending a month in Bristol...

Better, I'd bet, than being stuck at home for a month with a contract to a network that can't do much in-depth coverage.

Anon's right: the amount of travel involved across two countries for this schedule really means it's a choice between a BBC-style investment or doing it from Bristol.

(Is this being shown in Canada or Australia? If so, are those countries taking the international English-language commentary feed?)

Nick said...
Jun 11, 2008, 2:53:00 PM  

If I'm not mistaken, I believe Martin Tyler is working the tournament for an Aussie network.

Scott said...
Jun 11, 2008, 4:30:00 PM  

they usually send the 1st team announcers (rae and smyth) to the semis and final. I believe this is what they did for the 08 CL. Rae and Smyth are far more interesting and entertaining than any US announcers and lend an international flavor to the broadcasts.

Anonymous said...
Jun 12, 2008, 2:31:00 AM  

It's really funny that you're talking about an "impossible amount of travel". Geography, anyone? Austria and Switzerland are not exactly the largest countries on earth.

The furthest distance between two venues (Geneva and Vienna) is 500 miles. Which makes it a 90 minute flight. Infrastructure is excellent. Wouldn't be much of a problem to send the commentators to every single match if only ESPN was willing to do it.

And besides, only Basel (Switzerland) and Vienna (Austria) are used for all of the k.o. matches. So at least they could have sent one announcing team to each country.

Anonymous said...
Jun 21, 2008, 8:08:00 AM  

By the way: Is it correct that tonight's quarterfinal between Holland and Russia will be the first Euro match ever to be shown live on US network TV? I'm curious what the ratings will be like...

Anonymous said...
Jun 21, 2008, 8:23:00 AM  

i know there are thousands hate Tommy Smith. There are many many blogs and facebook myspace group against him. He takes ESPN quality. He doesnt even know anything about soccer. I cam do better comment than him with my broken English. Please get him off the air.

Anonymous said...
Jun 28, 2008, 1:01:00 PM  

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