COMMENTARY | One harmless tweet.
Just one tweet from the NBC Sports Soccer account was all that was needed for fans and (non-NBC) analysts alike to go on the attack. "NBC is already dumbing down its Premier League coverage!" was the common complaint circling around the Internet within just minutes of the NBCSN tweet. Things got so intense, in fact, that NBC felt to need to post a non-apology/apology.
Everybody, relax. NBC is hitting the reset button on EPL on US TV coverage, and thus there are going to be things that happen over the next couple of months that will rub people the wrong way. Those associated with the network's programming have, time and time again, publicly stated that pregame, postgame and review shows will cater more to diehard football supporters than to casual American viewers who are introducing themselves to the league for the first time. There's no reason to doubt that will indeed be the case come August 17.
The sense of entitlement some American soccer fans have is nothing short of laughable when you think about how much the sport has grown in such a short time. We've gone from FOX Soccer being a godsend, to demanding a spinoff station -- FOX Soccer Plus -- so more games could be aired, to FOX not doing enough in its coverage of the game at the domestic or international levels, to NBC swooping in and saving the day. Everyone would do well to remember that we're all heading in the right direction, even if we do encounter a bump or two along the route.
3 "crawl before you can learn to run" things about the Premier League on NBC: All games on TV
A bit of misinformation coupled with overexcited fans posting online led some to believe that everybody with access to NBC Sports Network would be able to watch every Premier League game on TV. This was never the case from the very beginning. Even after last week's announcement that four more providers had picked up Premier League Extra Time, that package will still only be available in "some markets."
The absolute worse-case scenario for NBCSN customers who want to watch the Premier League is that they will be in the exact same spot they were in a year ago -- able to access two to three live Saturday games (on NBCSN and NBC), two live Sunday games (NBCSN), and the occasional Monday Night Football match airing on NBC Sports. All of the other games will be available via the NBC Sports Live Extra service. Odds are it's on your provider and not NBC if you have NBC Sports and can't access NBC Sports Live Extra.
3 "crawl before you can learn to run" things about the Premier League on NBC: Time slots
More than a few people have griped to me about when certain EPL-based programming will air on NBC Sports, most notably the weekend "Match of the Day" shows. Ignore, for a moment, that the original "Match of the Day" airs late-night overseas. NBC Sports often has live sports airing in primetime on at least Saturday evenings, such as this coming weekend when the channel will offer the New York Red Bulls vs. Philadelphia Union Major League Soccer game. As for Sunday evenings, I'm sure NBC has zero desire to put anything great on NBC Sports that would take a single eye away from the NFL Sunday Night Football games.
Is 11:00 p.m. local time too late for "Match of the Day" for you? I completely understand that. I highly recommend DVR. It's a life-changer.
3 "crawl before you can learn to run" things about the Premier League on NBC: Announcers
That some American soccer fans still don't understand why stations continue to feature announcers who have European accents during coverage of international soccer baffles me. "Gimmick" announcers are nothing new to sports broadcasts in the US. From Howard Cosell to John Madden to Joe Buck to Gus Johnson, certain individuals have been selected to call specific sporting events for a variety of reasons for decades. Until channels such as NBC, beIN Sport and others are told to do otherwise through surveys, emails and other forms of communications, they are going to continue to hire non-US announcers for international soccer coverage because that's just the way it is.
American soccer fans have a pretty sweet deal this August when it comes to watching the Premier League. All would do well to step back and realize that before flipping out over minor issues that don't at all affect how matches are presented to audiences. More people in the US are going to watch live Premier League games over the next nine months than ever before.
That's only a good thing for growing the game in the States.
For more: The great American soccer revolution.
Zac has been covering the USMNT, Holland, Tottenham Hotspur, New York Red Bulls, Major League Soccer and other soccer leagues for Yahoo! Sports since 2010.
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