“I consider it a major privilege, and the pinnacle of my career.” – White on working for the NBC Sports Group
“Grabbing more information than I was able to grab when I was up in the booth…actually enhances my commentary.” – Martino on working “Between the Benches”
“The most important thing we wanted to accomplish was getting these two guys signed as our lead talent.” – Flood on signing White and Martino
“These guys have such a great flow and feel, and the back and forth between them is excellent.” – Moossa on White and Martino calling rehearsal games
NEW YORK – March 7, 2012 – NBC Sports Group conducted a media conference call today with Arlo White (play-by-play), Kyle Martino (“Between the Benches” analyst), Sam Flood (Executive Producer, NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network) and Pierre Moossa (Coordinating Producer, MLS on NBC) to preview the 2012 Major League Soccer (MLS) season, the first season in a new, multi-year agreement between the NBC Sports Group and MLS.
The season kicks off this Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network when FC Dallas hosts the New York Red Bulls. The Sunday’s opener marks the first NBC Sports Network game in the new agreement, as well as the first MLS game nationally televised in the U.S. this season.
Taking a page from NBC Sports Group’s hockey coverage, which employs an “Inside the Glass” analyst, Martino will be stationed “Between the Benches” during the games with White in the broadcast booth. From this vantage point, Martino will provide the fans with unique field level insight in addition to game analysis. NBC SportsTalk host Russ Thaler and Portland Timbers analyst Robbie Earle will host the pre-game, halftime and post-game segments, with contributions from White and Martino, from Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas.
FLOOD ON WHITE AND MARTINO: “The most important thing we wanted to accomplish was getting these two guys signed as our lead talent. Arlo and Kyle are the kind of talent that represent NBC Sports and the NBC Sports Group; best in the business and first in class. That’s why they’re the faces and voices of this league for us.”
MOOSSA ON MARTINO’S ROLE “BETWEEN THE BENCHES”: “What we want to take advantage from Kyle’s role is, not only his ability to analyze the game, but, he spent so many years and has such great experience from a pitch, we want to really get an opportunity to get a better understanding of the game through his field‑level observations.”
MARTINO ON WORKING AT PITCH LEVEL VANTAGE POINT WITH A MONITOR AVAILABLE: “I’ve called games off a monitor before, but the advantage will be now, with my field‑level vantage point, I can bring that sort of tactical analysis of breaking the game down. I’ll be able to give that (analysis) along with hearing Bruce Arena yelling at Landon Donovan to stay a little wider. Hearing Landon Donovan yell into David Beckham, saying, ‘Try to hit that first touch to me.’ Being able to see these one‑on‑one individual battles, and grabbing more information than I was able to grab when I was up in the booth…actually enhances my commentary.”
MARTINO ON BEING BETWEEN THE BENCHES WITH WHITE IN THE BOOTH: “Arlo’s knowledge of the game is outstanding. So if there’s anything that I can’t see from my vantage point, or anything I’m not hitting, the great part about our team is we have a play‑by‑play guy who knows the game as good as anyone does. He can either ask me the questions or can bring his opinion into the game as well.”
MOOSSA ON CHEMISTRY BETWEEN WHITE AND MARTINO: “We did two rehearsal games (at the MLS meetings in Orlando). And about ten minutes into the (first) rehearsal game we looked at each other and said, ‘Why do we even need to do more?’ These guys have such a great flow and feel, and the back and forth between them is excellent.”
FLOOD ON “BETWEEN THE BENCHES” PHILOSOPHY: “In hockey, we do a majority of our games now with one person up in the booth and one person inside the glass, between the benches. And it works flawlessly. The combination is great. Rather than being five stories above the playing surface, one person supplying the information is right there in real time hearing things. And that’s the key: You’re hearing what’s being said on the bench, inside the field of play, and there’s a huge advantage to that.
“When we launched this in hockey, the Canadians made fun of us and said what a dumb idea. Guess what? It’s the template that everyone uses now in hockey. Hockey Night in Canada has a person inside the glass. TSN has a person inside the glass. So what was first thought of as a whacky idea from Americans turned out to be the gold standard for covering hockey.”
WHITE ON BEING APPROACHED BY NBC SPORTS GROUP TO CALL GAMES: “I was thrilled and honored and I consider it a major privilege, and the pinnacle of my career.”
MARTINO ON WORKING FOR NBC: “I’ve been introduced to all the sports that I’ve fallen in love with through NBC. And NBC Sports has such a rich history of delivering games in a way that really brings the viewer in, brings them into the story, and honors these beautiful games that are watched all around the world. To be able to join this NBC team is very humbling.”
WHITE ON HOW NBC WILL SHOWCASE MLS: “(The games) will have that indelible NBC stamp on it. It’s going to look fantastic. It’s just not up to us on‑air types to make it sing, and I think we’ve gathered a fantastic team. This is a watershed for Major League Soccer and soccer in general in the United States. And with NBC’s involvement, and if we carry this off, as I know we will do with the team we’ve got behind us, I think we can take soccer broadcasting in the United States to another level. Fans should rest assured that Major League Soccer and its coverage is in very safe hands with NBC, and it’s an exciting development for the league.”
FLOOD ON NBC’S PRODUCTION PHILOSOPHY: “The most important philosophy we have (at NBC Sports) is storytelling, and making sure we treat a sport honestly, and put the sport first. And to do that we treat the games on the NBC Sports Network the same as we treat them with NBC Sports: first‑class production and storytelling and first‑class people in front of the camera and behind the scenes. We’re proud of the team we’ve put together to do this and look forward to the debut on Sunday afternoon in Dallas. It’s going to be a lot of fun. A lot of work has been put into this, and we’re excited to get going.”
MARTINO ON WORKING WITH WHITE: “I’ve met him plenty of times on the road, and we’ve passed in the stadium hallways and talked about one day eventually being able to work together and how great that would be. And now that we’re getting an opportunity, we are so excited about it.”
MOOSSA ON SOCIAL MEDIA INTEGRATION: “Throughout the season we’re going to be heavily involved in Facebook, heavily involved in Twitter. The hashtag (#MLSonNBC) will be on the screen so people know where to go. Arlo is a prolific tweeter, so we’ll get involved in answering (Twitter) questions and Facebook polls.”
ProSoccerTalk on NBCSports.com Debuts: Earlier today, NBC Sports Group announced that Steve Davis (@SteveDavis90), a respected soccer journalist for more than two decades, has joined NBC Sports Digital to be the featured writer for ProSoccerTalk on NBCSports.com. The site offficially launched today. Davis will contribute regular posts and provide video reports to NBCSports.com, and is expected to be an occasional guest on NBC SportsTalk, the daily hour-long news and information show the new NBC Sports Network.
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Last August, Major League Soccer (MLS) and the NBC Sports Group announced a three-year media rights agreement that calls for 46 MLS games and four U.S. National Team contests to be televised live across both NBC and NBC Sports Network each season. This agreement was the first rights deal for the new NBC Sports Network. All telecasts on NBC and NBC Sports Network will consist of pre-game and post-game coverage.
–NBC Sports Group–