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BT Sport: easily the worst TV sports station of all time

By Tony Attwood

What should a TV station do in relation to a football match that it has the rights to?

I can think of five things: they should show the action, make matters interesting, add a good informative commentary, develop informed commentary of the wider issues which have not been aired elsewhere, and innovate.

In the era of Match of the Day v The Big Match (BBC v ITV) (somewhere south of the Dark Ages when we all thought burning coal was a nifty idea) none of this mattered much since there was so little football on TV.  In those distant days of the Anglo Saxon Empire most of us would watch what we got, no matter how Liverpool-centric it was.  OK, it was often helpful to one’s mental health to turn the volume off, but otherwise, none of us knew that football on TV could be better.

These days however it’s different.  We’ve got BBC, ITV, Sky, the remnants of ESPN, and the memory of Satanta, that funny ITV digital station that went bust, Arsenal’s own on line station, and a whole load of foreign stations available on line.  Plus BT Sport.

So, how did the newcomer do over the weekend having purchased the rights to the Ems Cup?

1.  Show the game.

Yup, on this point they did do what one might expect, although every now and then about 15% of the screen vanished to be replaced by a little box bottom left.  It was only 15% but it was incredibly distracting, and made it difficult to focus on the main action.  But yes, let’s be fair, they showed the game.

2.  Make the game interesting

And this is where it all went wrong.  OK they did replays, but we’ve had replays since Harold II beat the Vikings at Stamford Bridge.   BT Sport also had the aforementioned little box, but that was far from adding interest because of the aforementioned distraction.   And otherwise…

Oh it was awful.  The commentators were so ill-prepared that the Canadian fellow they had on didn’t knowing anything about Arsenal’s pre-season tours (they could surely have got someone on who had done his homework), and delivered a long piece about a team he supported somewhere called the Dream Team.  I am sure many people with a better knowledge of sport beyond football will have known what he was yapping about, but I had not got a clue.

We had pictures of the crowd, sudden shots of the manager, and everything we had seen before – but nothing made made the game interesting.  I may have missed it but I don’t think they even had an analysis of possession, amount of time the ball was in each section of the pitch – all the stuff that I thought was now basic to the extra bits that football matches get on TV.

But given their problems with maths (see below) maybe they thought that was all too complex for us poor ignorant football fans who failed maths GCSE, and have to ask our kids what one plus one is.

3.  Add good commentary

This is where having gone wrong it all fell apart.  Much of the second half of the second day’s Arsenal game involved the commentators giggling about the fact that they couldn’t cope with the maths involved in the event.

It was three points for a win, one for a draw, one for a goal.  Oh how they guffawed – not just once but for something like 15 minutes, endlessly failing to grasp the intricacies of such a complex formula.   God, what would these cretins do if someone asked them to add three quarters to one and a half.  Or worse multiply a quarter by a half.  Froth at the mouth I expect.

Now I have every sympathy with people who for genetic reasons cannot do maths at all.  It is called dyscalculia, and around 4% of the population suffer from it.  I know about it because it was, in the past, one of my academic studies.  As a result of that research I was involved in setting up the Dyscalculia Centre 12 years ago.

From that work and all the subsequent research the Centre has been involved in, I can tell you that dyscalculics do not laugh and giggle about their mathematical disability, and from that simple fact I would guess that the commentator and his aides were just plain thick.   Which of course some people are – but surely they should not be commentating on a football match.  I have nothing against people who are not very bright, but I don’t want them commentating on a football match I am watching.  Any more than I want them dressing my wounds in hospital, sustained after I have kicked in the TV screen.

It was utterly disgraceful (the giggling, not the kicking of the flat screen TV), and in any sane company such employees would be disciplined for not doing their job.  Or better still removed forthwith.   Supposing you went to the dentist and he/she spent the appointment laughing about how difficult it was to count how many teeth you had.  Would you enjoy that?

OK maybe you would, but even so, I thought the laughing at one’s inability to do maths of the simplest kind was not only poor TV but also disconcerting from the match, not to mention a terrible example to anyone still doing their secondary school studies.

4.  Give informed comment not available elsewhere.

Another area of absolute failure.  On Arsenal BT Sport just told us what all the rest of the media was saying the day before, on that day, and indeed today.  It doesn’t matter whether you believe the “Arsenal must buy” frenzy or not – the fact is we have all heard it more times than the number of pounds Arsenal have supposedly offered for some Liverpool player.   Saying what has been said endlessly is neither entertaining nor informative.  Not one person on the show said anything that has not been said before.

Not one.  There was no attempt to point an alternative point of view – even though a fair number of people who read this blog do share the view that the club is being well managed and well run.   And we get over 500,000 visits a month.

5.  Innovation

Well, yes, they had a ref in the studio, and he did at one point say the ref on the pitch made a mistake.  It was an utterly obvious mistake (a bit like fighting the Vikings at Stamford Bridge two days before you have an appointment on the south coast) but he said it.

And he did also talk about the issue of “getting the ball” (the eternal excuse of the player who makes a foul and doesn’t want to be punished: say “I got the ball”, move your hands in a circle to indicate “ball”, and then put both hands on forehead while leaning backwards with mouth open) pointing out that whether you get the ball or not does not affect whether you have committed a foul or not.

But I rather suspect through the season he is going to be used to do just this – talk on topics, not on the key point that has been revealed in the last two seasons – the cumulative bias that some referees show.  That is presumably too hot a potato.

So what can we say?   They showed the game.  That’s about it.   Everything else was appallingly awful.

So awful that it really is making ESPN look watchable.   And to think this bunch of turnips are going to be in charge of Fulham v Arsenal.   Sound off is the first imperative, and my subscription will be ending at the end of this season, even if it means I have to go to some Man U supporting pub to watch away games on TV.

At least Bloody Terrible Sport will be encouraging more people to go to games which I guess is a good thing.

Arsenal Anniversaries: 5 August

The books…

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52 comments to BT Sport: easily the worst TV sports station of all time

  • Alan

    At least we didn’t have to listen to Craig Burley

  • Epicurean

    Love it!! Go get em Tony. I mean that literally..they should employ you!

  • Michael

    I get BT Sport for nothing and I still think I’m paying too much!

  • yoblet

    Count your blessings!
    BT has only just started there are bound to be teething probs! What other channels carried the Gunner’s matches?
    Surely it’s good for the customer to have competition?
    I have both Sky and BT Sports, thus plenty of choice!

    DO YOU WORK FOR SKY ???

  • Dan

    Tony, lets be frank – if someone or some organisation dare to paint Arsenal in a slightly negative light then you are up on your blog like a rat up a drain pipe to take great offence.

    You write one of the most biased blogs out there and I am pro-Wenger, its embarrassing at times.

    “Make the game interesting” – Has it occurred to you that sometimes you can’t polish a turd? Maybe they should have shown a re-wind of Spurs 4 – 5 Arsenal – that might have helped “make it more interesting”

  • Simon

    I Agree awful programme. Presenter and experts in studio like 3 cabbages and Michael Owen is no co commentator.I turn sound off and listen to radio in future

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Commiserations ,Tony – stupidity can be grating at the very least but ‘informed’ stupidity tends to incite homicidal leanings in some .
    Not me though , I ‘m the most sane person I know.
    Here , I suppose that we would be retaining the services of those experts of past years – Steve McMahon and Paul Parker .
    Last season was slightly better ever since they lost a ally in Shebby Singh who has moved on to the big time .

  • Lulu

    Maybe it is a blessing in disquise then that BT have been completely useless at getting me connected. As a BT broadband customer, I am entitled to BT Sport free for a year. However after 2 online attempts, an hour spent on hold and assurances that I was now connected – nothing. Sounds like I didn’t miss much!

  • Alex

    Watching BT is Not as bad as reading your pointless article muppet.

    EDITORIAL NOTE… Untold never wants to hurt or harm anyone… what I can’t understand Tindell is why you didn’t stop reading? I didn’t stop watching because it was the Arsenal and the only way I could see it was on this repulsive TV station, but you, you could just get up and stop reading.

    It suggests maybe you have something amiss with you. Have you seen a doctor?

    End of Editorial Note

  • El tel

    I worked near the Gantry and saw Owen Hargreaves (Canadian Manc), Michael Owen (Liverpool/Man) and Steve McManaman working for BT with some Referee who I knew His face but not His name. The Referee was talking about smashing someone with an old player who I also don’t remember the name of.

    So we have the Beeb with it’s Pro Liverpool chums SKY who should be called Manchester Untied TV and now BT with their Northern biased former players.

    ITV do have a bit of a mixture but they too have Beglin of Liverpool old days and some other northern based commentator.

    I am convinced the media help the Northern teams win matches and have said this for many years.

    It is also wierd how Referees and Players become good friends after they have retired. Well this is how it looks, maybe ey have always been friends.

    I rarely watch the Arsenal or any football on British TV as it is so unbelievably biased even the neutrals can spot this.

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    They didn’t improve from the first day then! At least as a BT customer I don’t have to pay extra but they have been really poor so far, still I did get to see the Ladies beat Liverpool three nil on Saturday evening – that game was on a rugby pitch which didn’t look very conducive to good play, can’t they even find a football ground to play at?

  • El tel

    Wow.

    You have Alex Fergusmoan trolling on your blog.

    Big respect.

  • Dan, if you find my writing embarrassing, then perhaps the best thing is not to read. I mean, I do want you to read, because I love the fact that we get such big viewing figures, but I’d never want to harm anyone emotionally. Except Drogba maybe. And Adebayor. And.. no I wouldn’t really.

    But truly, I don’t want to embarrass you.

    Honest.

  • Yoblet – yes I have both, and no I don’t work for Sky. Have worked for and with the BBC though.

    I don’t know what other channels carried the games, but in the past when Sky had them they seemed to be less awful.

    And yes, I am a total and constant supporter of the European Union, so I agree utterly with competition. It is just that I suspect my six year old grand daughter could have put on a better show with her mates at school.

  • Oliver

    not to mention the unacceptable delay on the internet stream

  • Dan

    In all fairness I did say “at times”, I generally don’t read to be honest I have been over here a few times via News Now. A lot of your viewing figures will be supporters of other clubs and my point is that you need to make the blog a little less biased. I understand its an Arsenal blog so their will be a natural bias, but I think your blog may be the most biased out of lot (except for the morons with no intellect which you do not fall into the category of)

  • Bootoomee

    Why can’t contrarians at Untold just pick out the fallacies or factual errors in articles instead of just screaming bias?

    I watched the game on a livestream courtesy of my excellent TalkTalk broadband. I muted the commentary but I give Tony huge credit for being able to listen. It was just plain terrible before I turned off the sound. It appears it was terrible all the way.

    For those complaining about the article, prove the author wrong with facts or ignore him if you don’t like his position. It is not enough to just scream bias.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    @Dan

    Did you even see the match?

    There were a couple of biases:

    They talked about Arsenal a great deal; They either knew nothing about Galatasary, or purposely didn’t talk about them because they assumed the audience was not interested.

    When they talked about Arsenal it was usually negative:

    We must buy a striker because we have no quality up front AND we can’t compete for the title.

  • Va Cong

    Dan, what is your point exactly, fans are always slightly biased Tony adds sarcasm humor to that. If you don’t like his style and alternative views fine its your free will.

    No one is indeed forcing you to read, Tony is simply expressing his views on the poodits commentary as of GoingGoingGooner has mentioned of being biased.

  • blacksheep63

    i didn’t watch because i was fortunate enough to be there. However, I’d offer a thought which is this: TV sport (football in particular) is hosted by a combination of journalists/presenters and ex-footballers and is aimed at the the modern equivalent of the man on the Clapham omnibus – the bloke down the pub. Not wishing to be rude but as a result we are unlikely to anything original, informed or inspiring from the coverage. Journalists are lazy, presenters are more interested in ratings than anything else and so every match is basically the same.
    This is why I try not to watch and prefer to go when I can or switch off the sound when I can’t.
    And I’m not at all sure I can cope with watching the world cup next summer – it will be a feast of patriotic incompetence and commentating ineptitude. And Spain or Brazil will win on penalties.

  • colario

    The endless scoffing at the points system employed was unbelievably tedious.

    We had shot of the Porto team with the comment ‘Hope they’ve brought their calculators with them.’

    What ever happened to actually doing what commentators are meant to do – commentate on the game!

    I fear the worst this season as my sports channels that last season showed EPL are not showing the games this season which means I could forced to having to listen to English commentators.

    Don’t know which is worse English football commentators or English referees.

    Side tracking a bit I’d like to wish Givanioh (apologies for the miss spell of his name) all the best at Roma. He gave his best and for whatever reason it didn’t work out. I believe he will join up with his former manager. I hope sets Italy alight.

  • John17

    I dispute point 1. As a Virgin subscriber, I can’t get BT sport.

  • Adam

    Didn’t see much difference between BT sports & the old ESPN channel to be honest. Mcmanaman will always be a *&^t. Expect more from Halsey though. Some positive signs that they are trying to be different but they have along ways to go and need to be brave, can they, is the question?

  • reallycrossross

    Spot on Tony … if I had the patience to blog this would have been my outburst too. I limited myself to hashtagging them direct through twitter. I too kept the sound on this time because to make an informed opinion you need all the facts. BT Sport are absolutely awful. Truely spellbinding awful. Both LiverpoolTV and ManUTV are less biased! I shall ofcourse continue to watch their broadcasts of Arsenal games but will choose to do so through a non-UK platform. That is unless they playfair with Virgin media! But I will watch with the mute button permanently turned on.

  • bjtgooner

    Good article Tony. There is however the possibility of fans who are also BT subscribers (to phone/broadband) making complaints to BT and this is the time to do so when the BT channel is in its infancy. My complaint has already been made.

  • Gerry Lennon

    Well who’d have thought it. I don’t know how it was for you Tony, but I for one did not find it too disappointing. For a start, there was no Stuart Robson?

    I have no idea what you saw with the little box in the corner for 15% of the time? I got none of that. I only live half a mile from the telephone exchange, so my HD picture was magnificent. I liked the fact that their logo was quite small and the same size as the score, which did not alter throughout.

    Perhaps because I signed up a month ago I had no problems in getting their programs.

    As for the ‘endless chortling’ over the possible winners of the Cup, can I just point out it was only complicated when Drogba scored the penalty … err in the 78th minute I believe? Then, as on the basic points system unique to this Cup, were all square, and after goals scored were also all square, it went back to the less known rule, ‘goal difference’. Which, as they were doing their sums, while commentating, or at least following play, and it was a distraction. However, Drogba scored the winner in the 84th minute, I don’t think you can call some of the 6th minutes ‘endless’ do you?

    I notice David James missed criticism, was that because he was quite good perhaps? Yes, Hargreaves could have done a bit more research, but he has still got time to improve … and he is not Stuart Robson.

    Whoever missed the ladies match, I can tell you they were very good. I also enjoyed the 2 hours on the Bundesliga Preview.

    Sorry Tony, no complaints here. Err yes, I did work for BT 30 odd years ago … Does that make me biased????

  • nicky

    Tony,
    Yet again I have to take you to task over your criticism of the BT Sports Channel coverage of the Emirates Cup.
    For those millions of Arsenal supporters, world-wide, who cannot attend the Stadium (and never will), the TV coverage by BT (and ESPN before it) is the only means available to see their heroes at work.
    While I fully accept all you say about the commentators and the general presentation, the fact remains that other than Sky, the new Channel provides an additional means of broadcasting Arsenal games to more fans who will ever grace the terraces of the Emirates.
    You fans who live in or within striking distance of London simply do not appreciate how lucky you are.
    I watched both games via BT. The camera work was perfectly
    OK. As for the commentary, I barely noticed it and in any case I have a mute button at hand.
    Please remember the greater overall benefit to others
    before over-criticising a service.

  • para

    I never watch a game in english anyway, i always try to find a foreign commentry, especially a spanish one, even though i do not understand it, the game is much more enjoyable to me. I do not need to hear the mindless cr#p the UK commentry. Another idea is to put radio commentry on, at least the radio commentry actually describes the game minute by minute, at least most of them do.

  • Mick

    I guess I am showing my advanced age but why can’t we go back to the good old days when we just had a commentator, none of this co-commentator/expert opinion nonsense. At least then you only had to contend with one idiot!
    Another thing, why, out of the hundreds of ex footballers is it not possible for any of the media companies to find one who has a good word to say about Arsenal and Wenger.

  • I absolutely don’t deny the validity of there being a TV service – just the quality of the commentary. I do have total empathy with anyone who can’t get to the games – I lived in Devon for 3 years and never got to a game, and hardly heard a radio commentary, and then lived in Algiers for a year, and just got a few seconds on World Service between the crackles.

    So yes, I know what it is like, and of course I want everyone interested worldwide to have the chance to see the game.

    My view is not that there should be no TV coverage – not at all. My view is that the TV coverage provided by BT Sport was awful and deserves to be criticised.

    I don’t kid myself that a monolith like BT will listen to Untold, even with the size of our readership, but not to try and put the point across would seem like a complete cop-out.

    Only by pointing out errors as we perceive them and trying to do the best we can as creative individuals can we improve the world – that at least is the closest I can get to my vision of what being an honourable moral man means.

    That is why I never object to anyone who disagrees with my views if they put across a coherent argument, be it emotional or logical. I object to the people who just criticise and make no argument or logical construct in return.

    We all of us, Arsenal supporters all, deserve better than BT Sport gave us over the weekend, in my view. But of course it is just my view.

  • Florian

    I’m not getting BT Sports, and this post makes me happy for that:) I am getting Fox and ESPN though, and the anti-Arsenal bias on both stations is just atrocious. No word of our Asian tour, hardly any word of the Napoli draw, but 2 minutes dedicated to the Gala defeat (and of course no mention of Drogba’s theatrics). I might have to start stitching the audio commentary from Arsenal Player over the live video to get a watchable match recording:)

  • Georgaki-Pyrovolitis

    Oh dear, I just subscribed to BT Sport…….

  • Tony, don’t you think you should at least give them a chance? They are just starting out at this. I for one am glad that we have an alternative to Sky, but you can not expect them to be as polished.

    I would have thought you would show more patience to be honest.

  • bjtgooner

    @Mick, nicky et al

    Just to clarify – my complaint was really with the match commentary and with some of the studio summaries/comments. The camera work was fine. With the sound deleted it was very watchable.

    @Florian – BTS is probably no worse than FOX/ESPN, just keep the sound off!

  • pezza

    I was looking forwad to reading this, such is my passion an hate of the commentators..michael owen. But you just came across as an ostantatious self loving fool.

  • nicky

    @Tony,
    Re your 8.06, I feel sure that BT viewers outside the London area and particularly outside the UK, provided they could watch Arsenal FC play, they would be happy to receive BT without the improvement in quality you would like.

  • Bootoomee

    This still takes the cake when it comes to utterly bad commentary:

    http://blog.emiratesstadium.info/archives/8124

    They wouldn’t even honour the bit about being positive/supportive of the British teams that was usually taken for granted until that fateful evening.

  • Mick

    @bjtgooner
    Last season I played the Arsenal.com sound over the muted ESPN transmission. I will try to do the same with the BT matches. It’s a bit of messing about co-ordinating the two but worth the trouble.
    Not much in the media today regarding Drogba’s dying swan antics, imagine the mass condemnation had it been an Arsenal player.

  • Bootoomee

    nicky,

    I think Tony’s (and most other commenters’) grudge is more about the quality of commentary and less about the quality of the camera coverage.

    I agree with you, once you mute the sound, everything is fine.

    But I understand Tony’s point too. The commentators were uninformed (deliberately, to me) for such a high class job and their unwarranted negativity will be poisoning the minds of fair-minded but non-hardcore Arsenal fans. Their job was to comment on the match and provide relevant historical contexts of the competition and its rules. They failed miserably and unashamedly here. But they excelled at repeating all the regular anti-Arsenal cliches ad nauseum.

  • Shard

    The first TV company to offer a service where you get sounds from the match, and maybe even various parts of the ground, but no commentators will make a fortune. Seriously, commentators these days are all boring, while at the same time being prone to hyperbole.

    As for BT Sport. I still have some hope that Mark Halsey will give a fair opinion on things and maybe also add some bits of inside knowledge. I liked Halsey as a referee, even when he made mistakes, and having met him briefly, he comes across as a good man. He might be the saving grace for BT, but as Tony says, will they give him much of a role?

  • Shard

    On an unrelated note. It might interest most regulars (I know it’ll interest bob) to know that Rio Ferdinand is against introducing even the most basic of sops that the PL has granted us in the form of goal line cameras.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2384353/Stop-messing-game-Rio-Ferdinand-says-goal-line-technology.html

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Does this sound familiar ?

    A young and pretty lady posted this on a popular forum:

    Title: What should I do to marry a rich guy?

    I’m going to be honest of what I’m going to say here.
    I’m 25 this year. I’m very pretty, have style and good taste. I wish to marry a guy with $500k annual salary or above.
    You might say that I’m greedy, but an annual salary of $1M is considered only as middle class in New York.
    My requirement is not high. Is there anyone in this forum who has an income of $500k annual salary? Are you all married?
    I wanted to ask: what should I do to marry rich persons like you?
    Among those I’ve dated, the richest is $250k annual income, and it seems that this is my upper limit.
    If someone is going to move into high cost residential area on the west of New York City Garden(?), $250k annual income is not enough.
    I’m here humbly to ask a few questions:

    1) Where do most rich bachelors hang out? (Please list down the names and addresses of bars, restaurant, gym)
    2) Which age group should I target?
    3) Why most wives of the riches are only average-looking? I’ve met a few girls who don’t have looks and are not interesting, but they are able to marry rich guys.
    4) How do you decide who can be your wife, and who can only be your girlfriend? (my target now is to get married)

    Ms. Pretty

    A philosophical reply from CEO of J.P. Morgan:

    Dear Ms. Pretty,
    I have read your post with great interest. Guess there are lots of girls out there who have similar questions like yours. Please allow me to analyse your situation as a professional investor.
    My annual income is more than $500k, which meets your requirement, so I hope everyone believes that I’m not wasting time here.
    From the standpoint of a business person, it is a bad decision to marry you. The answer is very simple, so let me explain.
    Put the details aside, what you’re trying to do is an exchange of “beauty” and “money” : Person A provides beauty, and Person B pays for it, fair and square.
    However, there’s a deadly problem here, your beauty will fade, but my money will not be gone without any good reason. The fact is, my income might increase from year to year, but you can’t be prettier year after year.
    Hence from the viewpoint of economics, I am an appreciation asset, and you are a depreciation asset. It’s not just normal depreciation, but exponential depreciation. If that is your only asset, your value will be much worse 10 years later.
    By the terms we use in Wall Street, every trading has a position, dating with you is also a “trading position”.
    If the trade value dropped we will sell it and it is not a good idea to keep it for long term – same goes with the marriage that you wanted. It might be cruel to say this, but in order to make a wiser decision any assets with great depreciation value will be sold or “leased”.
    Anyone with over $500k annual income is not a fool; we would only date you, but will not marry you. I would advice that you forget looking for any clues to marry a rich guy. And by the way, you could make yourself to become a rich person with $500k annual income.This has better chance than finding a rich fool.

    Hope this reply helps.

    signed,
    J.P. Morgan CEO’

    So good luck girls…

  • Brickfields Gunners

    OF LOYALTY

    A married couple in their early 60s was celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary in a quiet, romantic little restaurant.

    Suddenly, a tiny yet beautiful fairy appeared on their table. She said, ‘For being such an exemplary married couple and for being loving to each other for all this time, I will grant you each a wish.

    The wife answered, ‘Oh, I want to travel around the world with my darling husband.’

    The fairy waved her magic wand and – poof! – two tickets for the Queen Mary II appeared in her hands.

    The husband thought for a moment: ‘Well, this is all very romantic, but an opportunity like this will never come again.

    I’m sorry my love, but my wish is to have a wife 30 years younger than me.’

    The wife, and the fairy, were deeply disappointed, but a wish is a wish.

    So the fairy waved her magic wand and poof!… the husband became 92 years old.

    The moral of this story: Men who are ungrateful should remember…. fairies are female too!

  • nicky

    @Bootoomee,
    My ONLY point and I cannot over-emphasise it, is the tremendous value to the fan outside the UK of ANY broadcaster of Arsenal games.(my grandson in Australia for instance).
    Commentary quality is not important as long as the camera people are competent.
    Remember that the world-wide fan audience for Arsenal FC on TV, would fill the Emirates a thousand times.

  • Bootoomee

    nicky,

    It seems from your key point in this exchanges that you think that since the broadcasters are helping those who cannot visit the stadium to watch matches to do so on TV then we should cut them (the broadcasters) some slack on their terrible commentary.

    I have to respectfully disagree.

    I think this is precisely why we should demand better accuracy and professionalism from the commentators. I think the reason why we get so angered by their incompetent commentary is because we know better but this is what worries me for fans in distant places who may not know some of the facts that they misrepresent or the sort of bias they display. What if such fans take their words as gospel and they start resenting the club for it? This last question is not hypothetical. It’s real!

    Note also that these overseas fans are not getting the service for free. In my native country, it costs more to see premiership matches than in the UK with the average income being about a tenth of Britain’s! Shouldn’t these viewers be getting quality pictures with fair and enlightened commentary for their hard earned money?

    BT is a British institution with very high credibility especially in foreign lands (although, this is not just BT, us foreigners respect all British institutions, until we get here and see things for ourselves 🙂 ).

    BT can get more competent people to do their commentary or at the very least, force their current commentators to do a better job. You know, like learn the rules of a 6 year old tournament and not come on TV to wallow in wilful ignorance before the whole world.

    These sir, are very legitimate complaints and all broadcasters should be subjected to it. The fact that they are helping people who cannot come to the stadium to see things for themselves is precisely the reason why they should always give proper accounts of what’s happening and not their own biased and ignorant opinions.

  • Pat

    I always watch Arsenal matches with the sound muted because I can guarantee that the irritating negative media view of Arsenal will be repeated by whoever is commentating or punditing. So far Gary Neville is the only exception amongst the regular pundits and commentators.

    The trouble is, as some contributors have said, not what I do, but the fact that many viewers listen to all this negative rubbish and that it is likely to have an insidious effect on them.

    Yes there are ex-footballers who would take a different point of view, but they do not seem to get invited back. Jens Lehmann for example. So I am assuming that these are policy decisions made by somebody.

    As I was at the match I didn’t hear the commentary but the quotations from Mark Halsey give me the hope that he may be a positive feature. He did, after all, enlighten listeners on at least one point that many people don’t seem to be aware of.

  • nicky

    @Bootoomee,
    Point taken but I would rather watch BT with all its warts, showing a live Arsenal game, than reading about it cold in the sports pages next day.

  • Rufusstan

    I have to say what I have seen so far is not impressive. Then again, there are very few commentators who are sufficiently: smart, knowledgeable about the game and unbiased, that I actually want to hear about their opinion.

    Just looking at the BT Sport team when it was announced worried me. I found a breakdown I made at the time for a friend in the US:

    {Ferdinand as off field/ interviewer type (Current UTD player)

    Analysis:
    Owen Hargreaves (least objectionable, but EX-UTD player)
    McManaman (from ESPN, but basically EX-Liverpool)
    David James (Losts of clubs but strong Liverpool ties)

    Commentators: Working with Ian Darke
    Darren Fletcher (current UTD player)
    Michael Owen (just retired. Basically Liverpool, with a twist of UTD and Newcastle).

    Going young is a good idea, but If you look at them, their allegiances, consider that only 2 have any experience (Fletcher did some radio commentating the last couple of years while ill), and they are all so…..bland.}

    I agree with the idea that TV broadcast is a lifeline for a lot of fans outside the UK, but more nations are hosting their own coverage, even if they draw from the same original feed as the UK broadcasters, making the wrapping (-and by that I mean the commentary, analysis and presentation team) all the more important.

    A case in point, and the reason why I made the analysis above, is that NBC has taken over the rights in the US and are planning blanket coverage of the PL. They built a team based upon their target audience, so they have a mix of familiar figures (from their MLS coverage), and then poached the best they could from over here to allow them to draw in a less well-familiar audience.

    The smart move was to grab Dixon and Le Saux, 2 people who should be on the BT Sport team, who instead just went for the ‘shiny’ option.

    Funnily enough, looking at the near blanket United and Liverpool heritage of the BT Sport team, I wondered who from Arsenal I could suggest as alternatives. All of the manes I came up with actually work for a living……

  • Rufusstan

    OK, to clarify since I read back the previous and it didn’t make sense completely to me….

    The NBC coverage represents the first time the PL has gone out regularly on network TV in the US (I think), and I think their team is designed to try and engage people who have never watched the game before and have all kinds of negative preconceptions.

    At the same time, I meant BT went for the ‘Shiny’ option of big names, where the 2 English guys have gone for an interesting job co-commentating for a potentially ignorant and skeptical audience.

  • Adam

    Dan

    August 5, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    Tony, lets be frank

    @Dan, gotta drugs problem you wish to discuss with Frank?

    Only UK residents will get this.