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November 26, 2006

Put on your game face — No, not that one, the one with the funny round ball


Robert J. Hughes, in his "Weekend Advisor" feature in this past Friday's (November 24, 2006) Wall Street Journal, called my attention to some football on TV early today I'd have otherwise never known about via my usual sources of sports info (New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post and Charlottesville Daily Progress).

At 11 a.m. Eastern Time Fox Soccer (DirecTV Channel 613) is broadcasting (live) a huge English Premier League match between second-place Chelsea and No. 1 Manchester United.

The game features two of the greatest goal scorers on the planet, Man U's Wayne Rooney (in red up top) and Chelsea's Didier Drogba (in blue).

Bonus for me and the other 17 people who'll be watching: the broadcast features the same British announcers broadcasting the game there instead of the doofus Americans who ruined the recent World Cup on ABC.

Hey, less than two hours till game time — gotta go, my game face needs work.

Here's the newspaper item.

    A Big Weekend for Football

    Growing Audience to Watch U.K. Soccer Showdown

    This football weekend is stuffed with big games including the Chicago Bears at New England Patriots — a possible Super Bowl preview. Then there's the other kind of big football game — between leading English Premier League soccer teams Manchester United and Chelsea Football Club.

    Televised soccer in America likely will never match National Football League viewership, but the sport's popularity is growing. Ratings for this summer's World Cup set a U.S. record for a soccer event, Nielsen Media Research says, with 12 million people watching the final between Italy and France on ABC and more than five million on Spanish-language broadcaster Univision.

    Of course, that's small change in Super Bowl terms, but still represents a big increase from the 2002 World Cup: a tripling of the audience for ABC, a 75% increase for Univision.

    Fox Soccer has seen growth, too. Formerly known as Fox Sports World, which launched in 1997, the premium cable channel became Fox Soccer in February 2005. Since then, it has added about eight million U.S. homes, making it available in a total of 28 million subscriber households, according to Alan Gutierrez of Fox Soccer.

    In this weekend's big soccer match airing Sunday at 11 a.m. EST, second-place Chelsea, the two-time defending champion in Barclays English Premier League, is trying to unseat Manchester United from the No. 1 spot. Among other things, two highly regarded strikers will be battling to score goals. Manchester's "boy wonder" Wayne Rooney has been playing since 2002; viewers can decide whether Chelsea's Didier Drogba, who's having a strong season, was worth the new four-year contract he just signed.

    During the World Cup, sports Web sites received hundreds of complaints about meandering narration by ABC's American announcers. Fox Soccer relies on the announcers used in the British broadcast for most of its audio track: "The only time you'll hear our commentator is for the opening, at halftime and to close the game," says Mr. Gutierrez. Besides showing the English Premier League, Fox Soccer carries games of the Italian Serie A, Argentine League, Mexican League and Major League Soccer games of the U.S.

November 26, 2006 at 09:01 AM | Permalink


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The best part about the UK announcers, the ManU-Chelsea match today was no exception, is the clever brit phrases they always interject during the run of play.

Recent example:

Two Premeirship mgrs pushed each other on the sidelines. The announcers declared, "handbags at 20 paces..."

Posted by: Brad Youtz | Nov 27, 2006 12:09:50 AM

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