Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

TV: ESPN ruins my weekend

Posted in European Football by peterbein on September 17, 2010
Eintracht Frankfurt

In case ESPN don't know - this is what Eintracht Frankfurt look like

No doubt that not a lot of people will know, nor actually care, about what I’m going to write but I shall do it anyway. During the current Bundesliga campaign this season there has been a live game shown every Friday night. FC Bayern v VfL Wolfsburg opened the 2010-11 campaign a little under a month ago and each of the Friday night games to have graced each matchday in the German league has been shown on the sports TV station ESPN in the UK. So why is it that just as my favourite team Eintracht Frankfurt is about to play in its first Friday night match of the season against SC Freiburg has ESPN decided to show live rugby union? Bloody typical!!!

Rugby Union

The oval ball dominates on ESPN tonight - much to my annoyance!

This isn’t the first time that I’ve endured such disappointment amongst the schedules. ESPN’s predecessor as Sky Sports’ chief broadcasting rival, Setanta Sports, also used to show live Friday night German football and they used to make a point of leaving the Eintracht games off the list so long as they could put live rugby or something else supposedly more exciting on in its place. Now, just when I thought that my faith in Friday night sporting TV was restored, ESPN has decided to follow suit in dropping the Friday night game. You may say that I wouldn’t be here slagging off ESPN if they cancelled a game involving any other teams but that would be nonsense. I’ve been following the Bundesliga for a few years now and have come to regard it as preferable to the overblown, over-hyped coverage of England’s Premier League that prevails on Sky Sports. However I just think it’s an amazing coincidence that people in “TV-land” (wherever that is) always seem to drop these games whenever Eintracht Frankfurt are involved. In my opinion all of the teams in the league should be given as much coverage as everybody else, whether it be FC Bayern, Eintracht Frankfurt or whoever.

ESPN: It’s Good To Be Here. Except, of course, when they’re in Frankfurt 😦

PS – A critique and an advertisement in the same piece. That’s quite an achievement from my good self 🙂  However I shall recommend ESPN for Sunday’s live game involving Germany’s biggest derby Schalke 04 and Borussia Dortmund. Schalke 04, the home team, have decided to significantly raise the prices for standing areas for away supporters to €20 which goes against the spirit of cheap ticket prices for people from all sectors of society. Many Borussia Dortmund fans have decided to boycott this fixture and I support such fans who hope to keep the Bundesliga the most affordable and best attended league in the world. Hopefully many other fans will hold their own boycott in the future should other clubs begin to adopt the modern day “English disease” of ripping off the fans.

UPDATE: Since yesterday’s blog was written I’ve since found out that ESPN are only showing the second half of the biggest derby in German football. What will they be showing during the first half? Yes, you’ve guessed it: more rugby!!! Either show 90 minutes of the football or don’t pretend to make the effort. A disappointing show this weekend………

Konferenz is the future of TV football in England (isn’t it?)

Posted in European Football, UK Football by peterbein on December 15, 2009
Sky Sports Studio

Whilst fans in Germany watch the football, fans in England watch ex-footballers talk about the football

As an Englishman who has always valued the sacred kick-off time of 15:00 every Saturday afternoon it also seems that the English football authorities value it in much the same way. Throughout England at that time every weekend the whistle sounds and the action kicks off in many stadiums throughout the country. That’s great, yet for those who can’t go to the match or would like to watch it on television it’s ironic that the most popular time for football in England is the one time that you can’t watch any of it live on English television. After my many recent trips to Germany in the last couple of years it is more obvious than ever that the German tradition of allowing fans to watch the action live on the “Konferenz” channel is exactly what the English football fan needs more than ever, especially when one looks at the alternative.

The main argument from the English football authorities for the lack of TV action every Saturday (from 15:00-17:00) is that most matches in all four English professional divisions begin at this time and to have significant television coverage of the Premier League will have a detrimental affect on attendances in the lower divisions. For me there are two arguments against this. Firstly loyal fans will always go to the games whether they are live on TV or not, unless they’re unable to buy a ticket for a sold out game. Secondly, in this age of technology and greater media influence within the game of football, how difficult can it be for Sky Television or ESPN (the broadcast rights holders for Premier League matches) to have cameras at every game showing viewers the action live on Saturday? The cameras are there in any case for various highlights packages within the UK and for live screening of such games to overseas markets. After all Sky TV has been able to manage this perfectly on the final matchday of each Premier League season. Even then they only show one or two main games and show goals in a tiny section of the screen when goals are scored elsewhere. It would be great if this approach could be further enhanced every week on English screens by replicating what German television does every Saturday from 15:30-17:30 (their sacred football kick-off time).

In Germany the broadcast rights holders of the Bundesliga (ironically Sky has just acquired the rights in Germany too) have a service which allows TV viewers to either pick the game of their choice (like Sky TV in the UK allows for the Champions League) or, if you’re a neutral who just wants to see bits of each match, you can see the goals and other major events as they happen on the “Konferenz” channel. The coverage will start at what the broadcaster deems to be “Das Spiel des Tages” (Game of the Day) and from there the coverage will switch from game to game depending on when goals are scored or other significant events happen (e.g. a penalty kick given; a red card shown to a player etc). This is especially a great way to watch the day’s events unfold when there are goals flying in all over the place. Any argument that this would affect attendances is countered by the fact this coverage exists in a country which has consistently had the largest crowds in Europe for the last six years. As an added bonus for fans of lower league teams there are similar Konferenz shows at various times on any given weekend which are dedicated to the second and third professional leagues. Therefore if the English authorities were to learn from their German counterparts then they can spread the fixtures out more evenly over the weekend and give each division its own time slot(s).

In Germany this has helped maintain excellent coverage with an even spread of airtime for the lower divisions as well as the top flight. With the money and TV coverage in England at an all-time high at the same time as attendances have stayed consistently high since the Premier League began, then the notion that Saturday afternoons should be a football-free zone on television is clearly not in keeping with modern trends. However what Sky shows in Germany is in stark contrast to what Sky UK shows at the same time, a service going from game-to-game as events happen (sounds familiar?) but, instead of actual football action, we see four ex-professional footballers commentating on games that the viewer can’t see on their screens. Listening to these ex-footballers, whilst being deprived of the action, sounds more like a conference than a Konferenz.