England drew 1-1 with the USA this evening and the match itself was a watchable affair, albeit a frustrating evening for England’s fans. Gerrard opened the scoring after three minutes but a howler from Green gifted the USA their equaliser.
However, Green wasn’t the only person to drop the ball tonight. Predictably, ITV cocked up. Big time. While ITV SD viewers were cheering Gerrard’s early opener, ITV HD viewers were watching, bemused, as ITV cut to a Hyundai ad after two minutes and twenty six seconds. We were then treated to a brief period of a black screen, before resuming the action with the score at 1-0 with Gerrard having scored. One minute and twenty seconds that summed up ITV’s status as a public broadcaster.
Of course this isn’t the first time they’ve done this, having spectacularly missed Everton’s dramatic winner in the Merseyside derby last year. Which begs the question: how many times do ITV inadvertantly go to ad breaks? Or is it just a MASSIVE coincidence that the only two times it’s happened they’ve managed to miss goals? I suspect it happens more often. The lack of an apology from the commentators was grating, while Adrian Chiles – recently defected from the BBC – offered an apology so poor and half-hearted that it simply stuck in the craw.
To be fair, the writing was on the wall before the match even kicked off. As soon as the national anthems finished ITV, clearly gagging for it, cut to an ad break. Considering the match was about to kick off, the ads seemed to last an inordinate amount of time and, sure enough, they returned with only seconds to spare, with the USA kicking off approximately four seconds after ITV returned. Talk about cutting it fine.
The World Cup is a huge tournament with millions of people tuning in from the UK. Rights to the games are split between the BBC and ITV, following a government mandate. It has to be said that the BBC are far from the perfect broadcaster, and spending over £1,000,000 on a studio which offers a view of Table Mountain (which is only visible in the daytime games) hardly represents good value for license fee payers. Why they couldn’t use a painted backdrop a la Goals on Sunday on Sky Sports is beyond me. However, the BBC clearly have a respect for the football they show which ITV seems to lack. ITV manage to cram in three ad breaks during half time and before and after matches and an appalling array of pundits.
The pundits: I won’t lay in to Andy Townsend, because it’s simply too easy to take the piss out of a man who thought it would be a good idea to talk formations with ex-Aston Villa teammates in what was essentially an articulated lorry. Tyldesley attracts a lot of criticism but actually isn’t the worst commentator around – surely better than Jonathan Pearce – though it’s fair to say that Jon Champion is criminally underused by ITV.
In the studio, post match analysis from Robbie Earle consisted of talking about how “Stevie-G” looked in the tunnel, whilst Keegan was his usual wittering self.
Ad breaks and general ITV shitness aside, their post-match programme was utter ivacuous cretinous shite. The serial England team sycophant James “fat shouty man” Corden was at his Zoo Magazine-level-of-humour best. Talking nonsense (“we WILL win the World Cup – BELIEVE”) and making tired jokes, it was painful viewing. Chatting to that American girl who Russell Brand’s shagging/married to (the one who kissed a girl and liked it), he brought up the hilarious notion that America’s World Series might be a bit of a misnomer. Well done James, you’ve successfully transported me back to 1992 when I first heard that comic observation. Simon Cowell wasn’t a bad guest in fairness, and did his best to offer some insight and warn Katy Perry when she went a bit far joking about shaving her bush. No really, she actually stood up and gesticulated that she’d shaved her furry front bottom. Honestly, painful viewing indeed, and I’m not the only one with that view.
It took a turn for the worse when Corden informed us that Ireleand would be taking France’s place on the panel show, since France CHEATED to get the World Cup. Failing, of course, to realise that the only thing Henry robbed Ireland of was a chance to lose in more glorious fashion, perhaps on penalties, or with a last minute goal. And I say this as a semi-Irishman myself. After this, my will to live skuttled out of the room, into the backgarden, leap-frogged a fence and is currently hitch-hiking its way to the opposite side of the country. It was time to end my night of ITV viewing.
A truly incredibly terrible night of viewing brought to us by ITV. Incidentally, there has been talk of ITV losing their public broadcaster license (possibly through their own choice), which would not only mean they lose their place as the third channel, but also means they will not have automatic rights to World Cup games. And given that they hired Andy Townsend and locked him in a truck (which admitedly we’ve all wanted to do at some point) to talk about tactics, and given their propensity for placing ads instead of goals, that might not be a bad thing at all.