Here in Canada the World Cup is being broadcast on the national network, CBC. During this first round fans are treated to three live matches every day starting at noon, followed by one at three o’clock and another at six o’clock. The day ends with a rebroadcast of one of the games at eight o’clock.
Aside from the actual matches there is also analysis before, at halftime and after each game. A panel of specialists at the CBC headquarters in Toronto sets up the game, recaps the first half then dissects the outcome. The CBC also has a couple of reporters in Brazil reporting on atmosphere and non-game items.
All of this is pretty much what we have come to expect of large sporting events such as the World Cup or the Olympics. Where things are noticeably different for a North American sports viewer is when the match begins. For play-by-play the CBC switches to the world feed which features many British professionals. The difference is that in this first round each game has but one announcer who works the entire game alone.
With the exception of baseball’s legendary Vin Scully, in North America, sports tend to be broadcast by a team of announcers and commentators. At least two and often three members make up the in-booth contingent and a field-level reporter or two is not uncommon. This on top of analysts and experts before and after the game. The thought of one person doing the whole game by himself is unheard of, but admirable.
Keep in mind that American football, baseball, basketball and hockey all have plenty of commercial breaks that allow both players and broadcasters the chance to catch their breath. A soccer match on the other hand consists of two 45 minute halves with just the halftime break.
When first tuning in to a World Cup game the lack of interaction between announcers is decidedly odd. You wonder if the other guy is sick, or has developed laryngitis at the last moment. But soon you realize that there is no other announcer.
While I’m on the subject of sports oddities, let me point out that today is the first day of competition at tennis’ The Championships at Wimbledon. Of course we tend to refer to this event simply as Wimbledon. However, many call it Wimbleton – but it’s a D not a T – Wimbledon!