Soccerball go! NBC’s $250m Premier League package kicks off with familiar line-up

US network recruits English pundits for expertise but still manages an own goal

Los Angeles

There was at least one glaring error in the NBC Sports Network’s first day of coverage of the Premier League, or “EPL” as it is known in the US.

On Saturday, the American broadcaster captioned a photograph of a Dutch Manchester United striker: “Ruud van Nistelrooy, Manchester United Forward (2001-2006)”. The Dutch United striker in the photograph was, in fact, Robin van Persie.

Yet the US coverage of the English league proceeded without many transatlantic mistranslations, not least because its New York studio is staffed exclusively by English pundits. This weekend marked the start of three seasons of Premier League football to be broadcast exclusively in the US by NBC, which paid $250m for  the honour. The network also shelled out for English commentating talent, though not all its names will be familiar, even to UK viewers.

The man known as NBC’s “Voice of the Premier League” is Leicester-born Arlo White, who once worked as a reporter for Radio 5 Live. In 2010, he was appointed the in-house commentator for Seattle’s Major League Soccer (MLS) team, the Sounders. Last year, White was elevated to the role of NBC’s play-by-play commentator for all MLS matches. On Saturday, he was joined in the commentary box by the former Arsenal defender and BBC Match of the Day contributor Lee Dixon.

The network showed three live matches on Saturday: two on NBC Sports and one on its flagship channel, NBC. According to, its overnight audience ratings were the highest on record for a Premier League opening weekend in the US, with around 67 per cent more viewers than in 2012, when the first three games of the season were shown on ESPN and Fox Soccer.

Back in the studio, NBC’s so-called “shoulder programming” – its highlights coverage – is helmed by the ex-BBC and -ESPN football reporter Rebecca Lowe, who used to walk to school in west London with Peter Crouch. On NBC’s US version of Match of the Day, Lowe was joined by the ex-Jamaican international Robbie Earle, who provided detailed analysis with the help of a hefty computer monitor. Earle was sacked by ITV during the 2010 World Cup, after tickets allocated to him for family and friends ended up in the hands of a marketing firm, in breach of Fifa regulations.

Earle’s NBC punditry partner is Robbie Mustoe, a former Middlesbrough midfielder who moved to the US to coach university football following the end of his professional career. According to the NBC Sports blog, ProSoccerTalk, Lowe, Earle and Mustoe “established an effective rapport, taking it in turns to speak about different aspects of the match. After Arsenal lost at home to Aston Villa, Mustoe noted of the visitors, ‘They went 1-0 down this game very early on and came back with tremendous character and that firepower that we know they have.’”

In using exclusively English-born commentators, NBC Sports is following the example of ESPN, which it aspires to rival as America’s premier sports broadcaster. The two face competition from the new Fox Sports network, which launched this weekend. NBC is also the home of Sunday Night Football, America’s most-watched television programme. In 2012, the network was criticised for its coverage of the London Olympics, which it broadcast with a time delay.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an enthusiastic Maths Tea...

Urgently looking for Qualified Teachers and NQT's

£110 - £120 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Urgently looking for Qua...

SEN Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you that teacher who c...

SEN Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you that teacher who c...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform