NBC Thinking Outside the Booth with Their MLS Soccer Coverage

James Williams@WordmandcAnalyst IIIMarch 11, 2012

Red Bull headed in to Dallas for their MLS Opener
Red Bull headed in to Dallas for their MLS OpenerChristopher Pasatieri/Getty Images

Today in my Washington Examiner column, which did not make the online edition, I looked at what might be a bold new way to cover soccer.

Major League Soccer will make its debut on NBC Sports Network Sunday at 3 p.m. EST as FC Dallas will play host to the New York Red Bulls. It is the first game of a brand new three-year deal between the network and the league.

Well, NBC plans to use a new way to broadcast soccer that has not been tried before and they feel strongly that it will work out well. Play-by-play voice Arlo White will call the action from the broadcast booth—as is the normal practice—but his broadcast partner, color analyst Kyle Martino, will be positioned on the field between the benches where he will follow the action.

If this sounds a familiar, it is. NBC hockey coverage introduced the “Inside the Glass” rinkside analyst to the sport and it has become an industry standard. So why not use it to allow Martino the chance to get a better feel for the game from field level?

In a conference call this week with the network about the coverage, I asked both White and Martino about this new style of broadcasting soccer.

White on calling a game without having his partner in the booth next to him

”Well for many years in Seattle I did the Sounders games without a color analyst so being alone in the broadcast booth will not be an issue with me. Kyle can hear every word that I say and we have developed a rapport that works with him on the field and frankly, I don’t think the viewer at home will care if we are sitting next to each other or not. We did a dress rehearsal in Orlando a few weeks ago and it went quite well. I really think having Kyle on the field near the action will be a great thing.”

Martino on doing analysis from the field

”First of all, I have a monitor so I will be able to comment on any and all of the replays. But as a former player being down on the field gives me a real feel for the sense of the action. I will have access to hear what the players and coaches are saying and the flow of information between Arlo and me should be fine. [Coordinating Producer, MLS on NBC] Pierre Moossa, who will direct all the telecasts along with [NBC Sports executive producer] Sam Flood, have proven this can work. I look forward to showing the fans how something new will simply make things better.”   


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