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A look back on NBC’s opening day of Premier League coverage

Aug 17, 2013, 7:00 PM EDT

NBC Sports Group began its exclusive coverage of the Premier League today with Premier League Live on NBCSN at 7 a.m., followed by Liverpool-Stoke City on NBCSN at 7:45 a.m. ET, Arsenal-Aston Villa at 10 a.m. ET on NBC, and Swansea City-Manchester United at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC. Additional matches were available online via NBC Sport’s Live Extra streaming feeds.

Premier League Live, which precedes and follows each match, is hosted by Rebecca Lowe. She is joined by former Jamaican National Team Player Robbie Earle and former English footballer Robbie Mustoe. The three established an effective rapport, taking it in turns to speak about different aspects of the match. After Arsenal lost at home to Aston Villa, Mustoe noted of the visitors, “They went 1-0 down this game very early on and came back with tremendous character and that firepower that we know they have.” Earle, meanwhile, had a few words to say about what is happening off the pitch at Arsenal: “All this talk about who they were going to bring in and all this talk about now is the time to spend money and nothing’s happened yet… These question marks over Arsène Wenger have never been there before.”

Arlo White is the voice of the Premier League for NBC, and was joined on Saturday by former Premier League star Lee Dixon to present Manchester United’s trip to Swansea. Seattle Sounders fans became acquainted with White back in 2010, when he was the voice of the franchise, but the Englishman’s audience grew last year when he became the play-by-play commentator for MLS and US National Team games on NBC and NBCSN. White summed up Saturday’s final match with the words, “Victory then for Manchester United on the Opening Day. Swansea will be licking their wounds.”

There’s still more to come on NBC’s opening weekend of Premier League coverage. On Sunday morning, Crystal Palace host Tottenham Hotspur at 8:30 a.m., followed by Chelsea vs. Hull City at 11 a.m. Both games will be shown on NBCSN. Then on Monday, the first round finishes with Newcastle visiting Manchester City, on at 3 p.m. on NBCSN.

  1. Jackson Scofield - Aug 17, 2013 at 7:07 PM

    And I had to go to Page 2 and 3 for MLS stuff around noon. Seems like the number of articles was excessive, aren’t that many for MLS games. Prefer more about La Liga and Bundesliga too if we’re going to have that much international coverage anyway.

    • mdac1012 - Aug 17, 2013 at 7:27 PM

      Yeah, dude, maybe you didn’t get the memo. NBCSN is the new home of the EPL in the U.S., this is a NBCSN web blog, today is opening day & there have been no MLS games played as of yet, today.

      Did you really need that explained to you as to why there is an abundance of EPL stories?

      • Jackson Scofield - Aug 18, 2013 at 12:49 AM

        I understand why they have it, but I never see THAT many articles about the MLS games.

    • golazojones - Aug 20, 2013 at 2:30 PM

      I like MLS , too. It’s great watching our league get better over the years.

  2. blirbis - Aug 17, 2013 at 7:45 PM

    Good effort NBC. There was a momentous bent to day. One big miss though for me was that the studio crew was a bit humorless. If they’re going to be all Birtish, let them be British and bring on some more cutting banter. If not, then have a knowledgable American in there too to breed more familiarity. As it is, you’re stuck in a bit of no-man’s land – it’s a bit foreign without being interestingly foreign. See Fox Soccer, ahem.

    • mfmaxpower - Aug 17, 2013 at 8:30 PM

      Agreed. Overall I was impressed with the production quality (although matches being available only live online and not on-demand is a massive letdown) though the biggest weakness is the studio analysis.

      Rebecca Lowe is fine, and Arlo White and Lee Dixon are an enjoyable listen, but Earle and Mustoe and pretty dull. It would’ve been nice if NBC went a little bigger with their studio analysis – bigger names, bigger personalities.

      • schmutzdeck - Aug 19, 2013 at 7:01 PM

        Good point.

        We know these people are not Americans. So they may as well be themselves.

        You can see Rebecca Lowe trying really hard to “translate” her obviously vast knowledge of the English game for US viewers and it tends to obscure whatever personal traits probably made her likeable in the first place.

        I get that some jargon may be hard but I love watching BBC shows because they are British. As long at their brogue or burr are not too thick they will be fine.

      • schmutzdeck - Aug 19, 2013 at 7:05 PM

        One other point. British pundits tend to be a lot more critical than the Two Robbie’s usually in ways I find scathingly funny.

        So they need to take the gloves off.

  3. CaliforniaRedskins - Aug 17, 2013 at 8:37 PM

    BPL breakaway seems like it would be a pretty cool thing to do one saturday.

  4. footballer4ever - Aug 17, 2013 at 9:05 PM

    On the first day of broadcast of EPL on NBC, one can’t be too critical of things. I am sure modifications will be made along the way to enhance anything on the field/pitch and outside of it too. Overall, a great job by NBC now it’s up to us fans to shine and watch the games often and in multiple formats, if possible. NBC is not a non profit organization and tv ratings will speak volume. Along the way, support out MLS football league the same way.

  5. NowWaitJustAMinute - Aug 17, 2013 at 10:25 PM

    Overall, I thought the broadcast was pretty good. Some slick graphics including the goal line tech. Saw it both in the LFC-Stoke match and Arsenal-Aston game. Rebecca Lowe, Earle and Mustoe were good. Hiccups yes, but to be expected. I was happy at 4:30 am on the West Coast when it started!

  6. delboy0 - Aug 18, 2013 at 5:51 AM

    You’d think with NBC with all that power could have imported the best talent from the UK to present their show.

    As someone has seen the soccer coverage in the UK, which is the best in the world, I would say Rebecca Lowe is probably the only A-list football presenter NBC have brought over along with Lineker.

    Arlo White and Lee Dixon seem too low key to make the coverage exciting. Arlo thinks he is the new Martin Tyler and tries to be too calm when calling the game, but Tyler knows when to raise the volume when important moments happen. Lee Dixon would never be the color commentator in the UK, Dixon is more of the analysis guy in the studio because I think he isn’t a lively enough person to bring people into the game.

    I would have gone for Jonathan Pearce calling the game because he has knowledge and passion in his commentating that adds to the excitement and is infectious and draws people in. I think the perfect color commentators for US audiences would be Andy Gray or Stan Collymore, widely regarded as the best there is in the UK. Gray is incredible at analyzing a game and telling the audience what is going on, but in a passionate, informative and entertaining way. Collymore is a passionate color commentator too, who is very witty, good at analyzing the game, but also picks up on things you might not have noticed because he was an elite Premier League player and more of a journalist than other former soccer players. No disrespect to Earle or Mustoe, but they were fairly minor players in the EPL. In a dream world Graham Souness would be the studio pundit, the Simon Cowell of soccer pundits. A no nonsense say it as it is pundit, that expresses it in an old fashioned type of expressive way.

    Maybe I am being harsh on the present NBC team and it is only early days and things will improve i am sure, but given what was spent marketing the EPL, maybe they should have imported UK soccer personalities that can best transmit the excitement of the game to the American audience.

    • alshbro - Aug 18, 2013 at 11:13 AM

      Agree well said

  7. alshbro - Aug 18, 2013 at 11:10 AM

    Very disappointed NBC need addl networks to show live games. Love my Epl but not happy NBC got the rights Foxsoccer I miss

  8. britexpatinca - Aug 18, 2013 at 4:42 PM

    Best coverage of the EPL I’ve seen in the US – vast improvement on Fox. Worked well for an ex-pat like me – time will tell if NBC has done enough to interest the domestic audience.

    Rebecca was excellent on MOTD, and the recorded intro from Gary Lineker plus the original theme music were nice touches, but again likely most appreciated by the ex-pat audience. The Two Robbies were OK, if not spectacular, and at least they set up Rebecca’s sign-off line which had me smiling all evening.

    Thanks NBC – I just hope the domestic US audience enjoyed it as much as I did.

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