Today, Qatar's BeIN Sports network, owner of the North American broadcast rights for La Liga and most other top international football, and provided in an increasing number of markets, offered viewers an interesting coverage of the Spanish Football clasico.
The classic La Liga clash between Real Madrid and Barcelona FC has fans worldwide tuning in for what is the best football the planet has to offer, including the presence of its greatest stars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Using eight on-air personalities per English and Spanish coverage offered, including in the booth play-by-play announcers and color analysts, on field reporters, pre- and post game reporting in the studio and at the Bernabeu, the network sought to saturate the airwaves with their uber-presence. Surprisingly, Hugo Sanchez was one of the Spanish language studio analysts.
Prior to the game the coverage itself was hyped via news releases to the media and via a saturation campaign that saw internet and newspapers, television and radio, and their own channels promoting the game a week before it aired.
Today, their channel in the USA used a countdown clock which ran while other games and offerings where being broadcast. The only hitch was that the countdown clock counted down to 3 PM when the game was actually aired at 4 PM. What was on at three o'clock was their pre-game coverage, which had followed their hour long show of historic reels of past clasicos. What was on after the game ended at six o'clock (ET) was their post-game coverage--five hours of coverage not counting the repeat broadcasting.
It seemed the network had done some major partnership outreach as players who were available for exclusive post-game interviews (coverage by Canal Plus, for example) were carried live by BeIN Sports. Interesting too was the ad campaign that had the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo telling us that "the new age of sports coverage is here, watch BeIN Sports." Quite the pitchman to have landed!
While the game was on, ubiquitous advertisements covered parts of the television screen, blocking play, and ensuring viewers were given a different slant on the match. Advertisers in the east included the same mix of local, regional, national, and international businesses with a few new ones added in both the English and Spanish coverage. The Spanish language advertising, usually reserved for Latin American businesses interested in the network's regional reach, included businesses whose on-air talent voice-overs were in a distinctly different accent--Castilian.
Also interesting, at the Bernabeu, the international feed used several more cameras including some that seemed hand-held, as the picture seemed to float at times. The coverage, at times similar to that of American Football games, seemed to change perspectives almost every other play but the choice or reasoning for the alternate views seemed experimental rather than the best view for the play at the time.
This clasico has generated quite a bit more interest than usual and BeIN Sports has piggybacked on the explosive global interest. By several accounts a total of 700 journalist and 200 media agencies from five continents were accredited for coverage and the broadcast itself was sent around the globe.
Perhaps the age of true instantaneous global coverage of our sport is finally here, in a big way if that many large media corporations are involved. Now it will be interesting to follow how we are each provided our local feeds and whether this new age of coverage will accrue to a better viewing experience for fans.