Watching The Media: Sky Sports – Premier League Football

Posted: August 22, 2010 in Football, Media
Tags: , , , , , ,

Sky Sports have long had the market cornered when it comes to football broadcasting.

Their revolutionary approach to televising more matches helped usher in the era of the Premier League and bring football into a far more commercial era, capable of generating millions of pounds every year.

However, every revolution has its honeymoon period before the people start questioning the new dictatorship’s regime.

This time is now and the peasants of TV-land are restless once again, as it seems Sky have become rather complacent with their coverage of the ‘Best League In The World ™’.

For long has this been coming. The return of Monday Night Football on Sky Sports this past week demonstrated how poor the coverage of ‘Super Sunday’ has become, as Andy Gray took to the studio to offer a constructive analysis of the games played, as opposed to just parroting clichés.

Even Saturday football has proved a hit, with Ben Shephard proving a fantastic acquisition from GMTV.

Shephard has brought an experience from morning television, keeping things simple, yet interesting and informative. His dealings with an array of guests allowed him to maintain a series of probing questions, designed to get something insightful from his company.

Which brings us to ‘Super Sunday’. First things first, I won’t be having a pop at the in-game commentary, as Martin Tyler and Andy Gray are still head and shoulders above anyone else in that respect.

It is the studio stuff, pre-game, half-time and post-match that falls under my ire. Richard Keys has proven on Monday nights that he can offer insightful questions to Andy Gray, allowing him to demonstrate his knowledge, so his performance on a Sunday afternoon is just baffling.

It is the introduction of Jamie Redknapp to the team that has proved Sky’s undoing. His views often border on the childish, offering opinions you could gather from anyone in your local pub, regardless of how many they’d had to drink that day.

And yet Keys is restricted to the whim of Mr Redknapp. Could he possibly ask a more probing question that might leave him stumped and looking foolish? No chance, not for Sky’s new diamond, who was likeable as a player, provides a presentable manner and always has something to say, regardless of how irrelevant is it.

Occasionally, a guest who can provide something bordering insight will be invited onto the show, but will end up being shouted down by the overly excitable Redknapp.

A lot of insight from Redknapp you feel is bound by his personal loyalties. Is he going to give you anything on father Harry’s occasional tactical failings? Is he really going to point out the rare occasions that Frank Lampard has a shocker?

Redknapp is too contacted for this role. While that might seem ideal for Sky in getting guests into the studio, it leaves him being unable to point out negatives in the game without offending a friend of his. Thus we are treated to roughly an hour’s worth of snivelling, sycophantic ‘analysis’ that has started to define Sky.

Then we get guests like Paul Merson, leaving Keys to sit and watch as the two spent the opening Sunday fixture of the new campaign seemingly having a competition to see who was less informed. It was a footballing ‘stupid-off’.

Throw in a clear bias to keep the ‘Big Four’ happy and you have a programme that does nothing but insult the viewers’ intelligence and offer such bland critiques.

We the fans deserve better than this coverage. Unfortunately, given Sky’s incredible wealth, power and influence, there seems little anyone can do about this.

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