You analyse the fixtures, pick a match you’re desperate to watch, and get into work early to ensure you’re home in time. Minutes before kick off, you grab a beer from the fridge and perch yourself on the sofa, no intention of moving for a couple of hours. On goes the television, and then comes the big moment – is it on BBC, or ITV? Flick on to BBC1 – The Weakest Link. Crap, it’s on ITV.
Cue painful commentary from Clive ‘Pointless reference to the past’ Tyldesley, analysis from Andy Townsend and Robbie Earle (at least, until he was sacked), and general annoyance from Craig Burley. Adverts that take up more of half time than the programme, endless slow motion replays, and a complete lack of intelligence all round. And this is coming from someone who doesn’t even mind Adrian Chiles.
But what really takes the biscuit is ITV Live, supposedly the way to track the games while at work. It seemed such a great idea – streaming the matches online, what could possibly go wrong?
Well, for starters, the ITV stream is usually around three minutes behind, although on one hand I don’t mind that so much – I can hear someone in the office exclaiming at the goal, and then flick up the images and watch it ‘live’. Or at least I would, if the online coverage hadn’t already dropped out.
You see, the stream cuts out approximately every two minutes. Sometimes it comes back thirty seconds later (and now thirty seconds further behind reality than before), and sometimes it just dies entirely. No matter, you might say, just refresh the page, and since the online coverage is a couple of minutes delayed, you’ll probably get the pictures back before the goal goes in.
Well, that’s true – you get pictures back. Unfortunately they aren’t pictures of the match – they are adverts. ITV have come up with the genius idea that instead of attaching you direct to their main coverage (and therefore getting adverts at half time with everyone else), they will force you to sit through three adverts every time you load the service. Even if a penalty shoot out is at a critical juncture. Or if you have the restart the ‘service’ every few minutes.
What this means is whenever you hear a yelp to indicate there’s been a goal, you flick to the stream, only to find it has inevitably fallen over. You desperately fumble around to kick it back into life, get the ‘loading’ screen, and sit back relieved. Three infuriating adverts follow, by which time the goal (and all the incessant replays) have been shown. Oh joy.
They have been shambolic from start to finish. Their presenting team is painful, I’ve watched more matches on mute than ever in my life, their online service is crap, and the debacle of missing England’s goal against USA would have sounded ludicrous had they not done the exact same thing in the FA Cup tie between Liverpool and Everton last season.
Not that the BBC get off scot free. While their coverage certainly seems more professional, they still have the infuriating contrast of the monotone Mick McCarthy and the squeaky over-excited Mark Bright. Both come out with complete nonsense – Bright is a master of idiocy, regularly watching a slow motion replay and describing the events wholly wrongly.
McCarthy, meanwhile, was asked why Argentina were so impressive against South Korea, and replied ‘It’s because they play 4-4-2‘. There was a pause, as clarification was awaited, but none came. That was the full analysis, as if the formation was the sole reason for success. Can’t argue with it, after all Messi has been spectacular for Barcelona this season in a 4-….oh.
But with the BBC, there seems to be higher level of professionalism. With Lineker, Hansen, Hodgson, Dixon and Seedorf providing the intelligent points, their analysis is far more insightful, especially for the bigger games, when the hysterical are ditched and the experienced brought in.
The BBC have their flaws. But ITV have an astonishing knack for removing my pre-match excitement just by knowing it is them covering the game. Some feat.