SBD/June 8, 2015/Media

Fox Gets Good Reviews For Saturday WWC Coverage; Dismissing Solo Story Sets Bad Tone

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Fox tapped David Neal as the Exec Producer of its World Cup production
Fox' coverage of the opening day of the FIFA Women's World Cup "lived up to the hype," according to Abe Asher of WORLD SOCCER TALK. Fox' "A roster of talent" was in its L.A. studio for the Champions League Final, so the net "went with five women to anchor their studio coverage" of the WWC, and it was a "good look." Studio host Kate Abdo "did well in her presenting duties," and analyst Kelly Smith "was particularly impressive." The announce team of JP Dellacamera, Tony DiCicco and Cat Whitehill "was terrific," and DiCicco was "particularly bouyant buoyant and entertaining." Whitehill "has some growth to do as she steps into a commentary role for the first time, but she certainly has potential." Meanwhile, the net's studio in Vancouver is "phenomenal -- maybe even good enough to rival ESPN's setup on the Copacabana in Brazil, and certainly better than anything ESPN did for the 2011 women's tournament in Germany." It "remains to be seen whether Fox can pull off the gravitas of ESPN's coverage as we proceed later into the tournament and hit more serious stories," but Saturday "was a good day" (WORLDSOCCERTALK.com, 6/7). AWFUL ANNOUNCING's Ken Fang wrote Fox "has to be encouraged" by its coverage Saturday. Abdo was a "competent traffic cop on the set dealing with four analysts." Having that many people on set gets "rather crowded and Abdo managed to distribute the ball to everyone on the Fox team." Fox' Julie Stewart-Binks, reporting from Edmonton prior to the Canada-China match, brought up the artificial turf issue and "how the hot temperatures would affect the players" (AWFULANNOUNCING.com, 6/7).

A SIGN OF THINGS TO COME?
SI.com's Richard Deitsch wrote most of FS1's WCC panel yesterday "came off as auxiliary PR for Hope Solo and U.S. Soccer" in the wake of an ESPN report detailing Solo's role in a domestic violence incident. It also may have "illuminated how they'll approach such off-field issues." FS1 analyst and former U.S. women's national team player Leslie Osborne said of the report, "Old news. It’s old news to us. It’s old news to the team. We should have been talking more about this previously. We are now at the World Cup. Why are we focusing on Hope Solo and what she did previously?" But Deitsch wrote given the amount of "new details ESPN broke just hours prior to Osborne’s comment, calling this old news seemed surprising." The case "might be old; the news was not." FS1 host Rob Stone "followed minutes later by calling it a 'new revelation.'" Analyst Eric Wynalda said during the discussion, "This stuff is starting to get annoying to me. Save it for Judge Judy." Deitsch called Wynalda's comment the "low point of the discussion." Meanwhile, to FS1's "credit, they covered the entire press conference" for USWNT coach Jill Ellis and MF Carli Lloyd, the "kind of coverage you want to see if you are invested in the World Cup" (SI.com, 6/7). SI.com's Grant Wahl wrote he can "understand why women's soccer fans are annoyed with all the talk of the FIFA scandal and the Solo case before and during their sport's signature event." The biggest moment in women’s soccer "happens only once every four years," and the media coverage at the start of this Women’s World Cup is "bigger than ever." Just when fans are "ready to focus entirely on watching the best women’s soccer players the world has to offer, so much of the talk is about FIFA’s implosion and Solo’s court case." But those "are legit news stories." Wahl: "On Monday, I suspect, the big story will be USA-Australia" (SI.com, 6/7).

FORTUNE TELLER? Fox, FS1 and FS1 averaged a 0.6 overnight rating for the first four games of the WWC this weekend, up from a 0.4 for the comparable four games on ESPN and ESPN2 during the '11 event (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor). CABLEFAX DAILY notes Fox "cleverly tapped" David Neal, who spent 30 years at NBC Sports, as the Exec Producer of its WWC production. Asked about ratings expectations for the tournament, Neal said, "It’s interesting. As a producer I don’t worry about the ratings so much. We’re certainly happy about the fact that this is an event in our time zone with featured matches predominantly in primetime, many of them on the broadcast networks -- all those things bode very well. But I hesitate to look at my crystal ball because you really can’t project" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 6/8).

GRAPHIC DESIGN
: SI.com's Deitsch wrote Fox' graphics for the Women's World Cup are "very strong," but some Twitter users "were troubled by the small size of the scoreboard." A Fox Sports spokesperson said the graphics are built by Fox Sports, "but must conform to FIFA specs, which are exacting. And FIFA must approve." Deitsch wrote Fox has "been on-point with its intros to games and graphical elements so far" (SI.com, 6/7).
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