Fox Sports’ Cover Of MLS Works, But Only To a Point

FS1 does a good job of showing MLS, except when it comes to advertisements
by Daniel Feuerstein   |   Monday, April 06, 2015

US Soccer Federation (USSF)

For the last three seasons, MLS was on NBC & NBC Sports Network and the level of production and care brought the league a lot of success. Even though NBC did win the rights to the Barclay’s Premier League from England, MLS decided to move from NBC and brought FOX back into the fold along with ESPN and scored a big long term deal for over $600 million with Univision and their sports channels.

We all know what ESPN has done so far in this new season for the league and as always having a great announcing team in Adrian Healey and Taylor Twellmen in the booth has made them look smart and professional since the league came on that network from Bristol, Connecticut. We all know what to expect from those two and how the production of professional soccer should look from them.

But now FOX has returned to produce games for the domestic league. And after the first month of games, we can take a look at the good and the bad from the big sports channel from Los Angeles, California.

The success of the broadcasts starts in the booth and bringing over the former TV play-by-play voice of the Portland Timbers John Strong is a big improvement, and moving Alexi Lalas from ESPN to be Strong’s partner is also a bold move.

So far these two are working and the chemistry is showing very well. Both men love the game as one played it and the other makes a living calling it, these two are making FOX look strong in that department and having Julie Stewart-Binks on the sidelines is also a solid move to get reports from the benches.

The level of production of the games is also an added bonus, because now we see what happens when you don’t just take the signal and just plug it on to people’s TV screens. While they remain doing that type of work for the UEFA Champions League & CONCACAF Champions League, it’s so much better having a broadcast team at the stadium instead of being in an office building and praying the calls will match the game.

But sadly there are some problems with the production. While I’m glad that Audi automobiles are the sponsors for MLS, I don’t need to see a giant extended graphic that will engulf the replays of the goals. At the same time, during the action, I don’t enjoy seeing the game shrink just to show a sponsor. I understand sponsors pay for the time, but when that moment needs to be shown, you attach the sponsors logo to the scoreboard bug at the top right of the screen.

Once again FOX Sports sadly wants to show their graphics as the best thing they got besides the game and when you put too much effort into the graphics, you will lose what the product is and that’s the game it’s self.

There is still plenty of time for FOX Sports to fix some of their issues on the production side of things, but at the moment their rebirth of producing MLS games and involving themselves into MLS Soccer Sunday games along with ESPN at the moment I give them a grade of a C , because I don’t need to worry about the professionals in the broadcast booth. But I am concerned about the production truck at the games when it looks like at times they are going back to the late 90’s and shrinking the screen just to make the sponsors extra happy. We are no longer at that stage.

Daniel FEUERSTEIN

Nationality:
USA
College:
Ramapo College
Club Domestic:
Red Bull NY
Club Foreign:
PSG, ManU, Maccabbi Haifa
Original New York Cosmos fan, reborn soccer fan since 1994 USA World Cup. Feuerstein’s Fire podcast host. Covers NY Red Bulls for SN, and promotes all levels of American soccer from both sides of issues.
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