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Volume 25 No. 28
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Fox Announces Mostly American Broadcast Crew For World Cup

Eight of the 12 match commentators Fox is using for its broadcast of the FIFA World Cup this summer will be American, a "marked contrast to British voices that dominated ESPN's telecasts of the past two tournaments," according to Ronald Blum of the AP. The lead team will be John Strong and Stuart Holden, while Derek Rae (Scotland) and Warren Barton (England) are the "only British voices." ESPN used "five British play-by-play announcers" for the '14 event in Brazil. Fox Exec Producer David Neal said, "There's no question that we did this deliberately, and the message is that we have an abundance of outstanding American play-by-play voices and frankly it would make no sense not to avail ourselves of that." Blum noted the teams of Strong-Holden and JP Dellacamera-Tony Meola will be Fox' only crews based in Russia, as the other announcers "will broadcast from Fox’s studios in Los Angeles." Meanwhile, Aly Wagner will be the "first female game analyst for a men's World Cup on U.S. television" (AP, 4/25). ESPN's Julie Foudy tweeted, "Awesome to see @alywagner getting to call men's World Cup games. Great call by Fox as Aly is excellent." Former USWNT G Hope Solo: "Congrats to @AlyWagner for making history and becoming the first female game analyst on American 📺 for a men's World Cup!"

FOX WORLD CUP BROADCAST TEAMS
John Strong & Stu Holden
JP Dellacamera & Tony Meola
Derek Rae & Aly Wagner
Glenn Davis & Cobi Jones
Jorge Perez Navarro & Mariano Trujillo
Mark Followill & Warren Barton
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Fox WC

NOT ON LOCATION: In Philadelphia, Jonathan Tannenwald reports Fox is being "battered by soccer fans across the U.S. for only sending two of its six World Cup commentary teams to Russia." However, Neal said not sending every broadcaster abroad is "fairly standard procedure these days." He added, "The technology is there, and it allows us to not have to travel everybody. ... ESPN similarly split their operations in Brazil in 2014." Tannenwald notes there is a "big difference, though: ESPN had all of its broadcasters in Brazil." When they "weren’t in stadiums, they called games off monitors in Rio de Janeiro." For Fox to "not have announcers in the host nation is different." That "hasn’t happened" since '06, when the World Cup was of "far less importance to U.S. English-language television than it is now." Neal said that Fox considered "flying everyone to Moscow, but decided to not." Neal: "There’s no advantage if you’re doing a monitor call -- it doesn’t matter where you are. We’ve got the infrastructure here in L.A., so there’s really no reason not to avail ourselves of it." He added that there "won't be any attempts to hide the location" of the L.A.-based commentators when they are on air (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 4/26).

REMOTE CONTROL: Twitter reaction focused on Fox using remote commentary teams. WhereIsFootball.com's Maxi Rodriguez: "Imagine paying for the rights to the World Cup and not setting aside budget to send a crew to Russia. What a joke." Timbers writer Mike Donovan: "It is pretty disappointing that Fox is only sending 2 announcing teams to Russia. That is abysmal and really poor form. I had high hopes for Fox covering the World Cup but woof, that's not a good look." Montreal Gazette's David Rudin: "Fox's American broadcasters are staying home for the World Cup to better understand what the #USMNT is going through lol." Bloomberg News' Dina Bass: "I'm taking suggestions for better ways to watch the World Cup this year than listening to games called mostly by commentators back in LA." St. Paul-based KSTP-ABC's Chris Long: "So much for FOX going 'all-in' on their newly-acquired World Cup soccer rights. Having the majority of games called off a TV monitor from half a world away is brutal."

LACKING EXPERIENCE: YAHOO SPORTS' Henry Bushnell noted Fox' roster features "zero color commentators with men’s World Cup broadcasting experience, and only one with women’s World Cup broadcasting experience." The play-by-play group is "more seasoned, but nowhere near as respected internationally" as the announcers ESPN used in '10 and '14. The problem is that it shows Fox’ "unwillingness to go all in on its World Cup coverage with the USMNT absent." But perhaps it is "unfair and premature to criticize Fox’s coverage before it comes to life" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/25).