SBD/Issue 175/Sports Media

Fox Garners Mixed Results For Champions League Final Broadcast

Writer Believes Fox' Soccer Debut With
Champions League Final Mostly A Success

Fox earned a 1.1 overnight Nielsen rating for Saturday's UEFA Champions League final, which saw Italian Serie A club Inter Milan defeat German Bundesliga club Bayern Munich in the network's first-ever soccer broadcast. ESPN last year aired the FC Barcelona-Manchester United final, which earned a 1.0 overnight rating on a Wednesday afternoon (THE DAILY). BROADCASTING & CABLE's Ben Grossman wrote Fox' soccer debut with Saturday's Champions League final "came off well," despite some "pregame rough spots." The success of the broadcast is due in part to a "couple of borrowed broadcasters," as in deciding to take the international feed "featuring the fantastic pairing of Martin Tyler and Andy Gray, the broadcast was mostly worthy of the massive affair it is." But taking the feed "did leave one major aspect of the broadcast disappointing," as Fox Sports likely "would have known that at the final whistle, the shot viewers should have seen was the reaction of Inter Milan manager Jose Mourinho, by far the most dynamic character involved in these proceedings." The feed "didn't find the outspoken coach until too late." Grossman wrote studio host Curt Menefee was "strong as usual," while Galaxy GM & coach Bruce Arena "brought intelligent tactical analysis and depth" as a guest in the studio. Fellow studio analyst Eric Wynalda "left a bit more to be desired." He opened the pregame by "calling this match the 'Super Bowl' of the sport, after which Arena thankfully quickly reminded him of that small affair called the World Cup." The pregame show overall was "woefully below the level of what was deserved for this massive affair, and below the usual standards of Fox Sports, thanks to two noticeable mistakes off the top." The "worst was when the announcers went to talk through the Bayern Munich starting lineup, and the graphic failed to show up on screen" (BROADCASTINGCABLE.com, 5/23).

THREE'S A CROWD: YAHOO SPORTS' Brian Phillips wrote Menefee, Arena and Wynalda "had no chemistry" and had "nothing to say about the match." The trio often "struggled to fill the gaps between commercial breaks." The three also "all endorsed the proposition that the Champions League is bigger than the World Cup." Fox got some "relatively minor things" wrong, but at the same time "got some overwhelmingly more important things right" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 5/23).

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