ESPN TV Coverage In The U.S. Of The ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: The Good & The Not So Good.

.Anura Guruge December 2014 thumbnail
by Anura Guruge

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ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 on ESPN.

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Videos from ESPN

I have to say that I have been amazed at how GOOD ESPN’s TV coverage of the ICC World Cup 2015 has been. Notice in the title I did NOT (as I often do) use ‘The Good, The Bad & The Ugly‘. That is because in reality I could not, in good faith, say that the TV coverage I have seen to date (and I have watched 15 match highlight packages and the Aus vs. SL match in full) has been bad, let alone ugly. Yes, I did pay $99 for it BUT getting cricket on TV in the U.S. is rarely free and access to live World Cup coverage, in the U.S., has always involved a fee. Plus for 49 matches over 6 weeks (and I am hoping that they will leave the access APP up for at least two more weeks after the Final) that is not that bad; $2 a game.

I am pleasantly impressed. Though they have owned (my go to source for cricket) for nearly a decade (if not longer) until now I was never convinced that ESPN had a clue about cricket. Well they have obviously acquired some requisite talent (most likely mainly Indian) and learnt what they had to. They might also have realized with all of the Indians, Pakistanis, Australians, South Africans, Irish, Sri Lankans and Kiwis living here that there is good money to be made with DECENT coverage of cricket. I am hoping for even bigger and better things from ESPN on the cricket front. But, for a quick appraisal.

The Good
1. Absolutely amazing HD quality. Vivid, brilliant and brimming with resolution. Such a delight to watch. You can see the individual stubble on the player’s faces and even where they have nicked themselves shaving. I have never seen cricket on TV with this level of quality ever. It is a delight.

2. The video is clean with very, very few breakups, distortion and pixelation. You can go for 4 or 5 hours, maybe even longer, without seeing a single video glitch.

3. A complete replay as well as a condensed package (i.e., highlights) are available, in English and Hindi, for each match.

4. The replays in chronological order are available for ALL the matches. So you can take your time picking and choosing the ones you want to watch. None of the matches are taken down.

The Not So Good
I am not sure where and how ESPN gets the TV feeds. I have spent a few minutes trying to find out but I drew a blank. I have a feeling that ESPN per se do not have cameras or commentators at the venues. My gut feel is that the ICC provides a common feed, with expert commentary, to all the networks that bought rights to the coverage, including ESPN. If so all of what I am going to say does not apply to ESPN per se because it all has to do with the ‘feed’.

1. The camera angle for the MAIN, ball-by-ball, over the bowler’s shoulder, coverage is too high. It appears to be from a suspended camera. I am used to the angle being much closer to the ground — i.e., more at stump level. It is OK but after probably 20 hours I am still not used to it — given that I probably have 2,000 hours of non-ESPN coverage under my belt.

2. They skimp on the stats in the highlights package. That is annoying. They also don’t provide the plethora of details I am used to with TEN and Willow. Like when Joe Root scored his century. They said he was the youngest English player to have done so in a World Cup. They even mentioned that Root was much younger than when Gower did so. But they never told me how old Joe Root was! I didn’t have my pad with me. So I had no idea. Was he 18, 21 … It would have been nice. If it was TEN we would have had a table of all the youngest players. So the stats are on the light side. Not many tables at all.

3. The commentary isn’t as ‘meaningful’ and ‘insightful’ as I have got used to with TEN. It is OK. It is very polite and factual, but like the stats a bit light in substance.

4. The editing on a few highlight packages have been poor. Like wickets missing. I haven’t done it as yet BUT I guess I have the option of going and looking at the missing bits on the full replay.

All in all, I am happy. I am watching between 2 to 2.5 hours of World Cup a day. That is good for my psyche. The book is all done. Just the Preface has to be written and I will get that done today. So I do have the luxury of having a tad more time to devote to cricket. Not sure how I will cope with the Finals, the Semis and the Quarter. Might have to spend more time in front of the TV.

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