CBC presenters from left: Nigel Reed, John Collins, Scott Russell, Mitch Peacock, Bob Lenarduzzi and Jason DeVos
Four days in and it's safe to say the CBC is doing a good job presenting the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
In truth, doing a "good job" covering the World Cup essentially comes down to putting as much soccer on TV as possible. With every game of the group stage broadcast live (except in the final week when conflicting games can be watched either on tape delay or on CBC Bold), plus two group stage evening replays on the main network and all three games replayed on CBC Bold, the mothercorp has already passed the footie test with flying colors (which can't be said of some other networks).
Everything outside of the football is just window dressing, and the CBC has kept it admirably unobtrusive. Switching between a morning crew (host Mitch Peacock, commentary Nigel Reed and Bob Lenarduzzi) and an evening crew (host Scott Russell, commentary John Collins and Jason DeVos), game coverage is presented with pleasing predictability. There's some safe-but-reliable match notes from the expert panelists, interesting on-the-ground reports from around South Africa, and a few cutesy color stories on match day parties across Canada at the half-time break (brought to you by Captain Morgan's rum, an inspirational sponsor, especially in the AM).
There are some minor quibbles. Match analysis can be a bit snoozy at times, although Canada should be thankful they've been spared game analysis from the likes of ex-players Alan Shearer (BBC) or Steve McManaman (ESPN), and non-soccer person Scott Russell often sounds like he's rehearsed everything he says 10 times before going live-to-air. Plus they have this big, green, shag carpet fake pitch with real nets in the back end of the studio, which I haven't seen used in any meaningful way yet except for Russell to walk on.
Yet the one major problem with the World Cup coverage has nothing to do with the CBC: it's their use of the international English commentary feed. The feed's reliance on a lone man in the booth often allows the commentator to go off on bizarre tangents during games, or in the case of USA vs. England announcer John Helm, to loudly sniff into the microphone after every single sentence. You can hardly fault the CBC for it, and there aren't many attractive alternatives (I feel sorry for anyone who's ever had to sit through Steve Armitage calling a soccer game), but that feed hasn't changed in years and it's starting to grate.
Still, overall this is an attractive package. By simply presenting the World Cup to a country-wide audience without resorting to hype or patronizing explanations for the viewer, CBC television should be commended. Tomorrow: CBC Online.
Photo courtesy CBC