NBC's English Premier League coverage continues to excel. It's been one of the best developments in sports broadcasting this year. The depth and quality of the broadcasts as well as the sheer amount of EPL coverage put forth by NBC and NBCSN has taken the league (and the sport as a whole) up another level in the American sports landscape.
This coming weekend, NBCSN will conduct a high-profile experiment for the huge showdown between Chelsea and Manchester City that should be very cool for American viewers. Richard Deitsch at Sports Illustrated reports USMNT and Everton goalkeeperTim Howard will call the game as lead analyst with Arlo White:
"U.S. National soccer team goaltender Tim Howard will serve as the analyst for the Chelsea-Manchester City match next Sunday at noon ET on NBCSN. (Arlo White will call the game with Howard, who will be in the booth one day after suiting up for Everton against Aston Villa. "It is the first time we will have an active player in our announce booth" said NBC Sports Group coordinating producer Pierre Moossa."
Having an active player in the league call a game as a solo analyst a day after playing is a remarkable step for both Tim Howard and NBCSN. It's something you'd never see in one of the major American leagues. Imagine Peyton Manning playing a Thursday night game and then taking the time to call Patriots-Steelers on CBS on Sunday. It would never happen.
Who knows just how good Howard will be as a game analyst, it's certainly a risk. However, he can provide insights as a current player that nobody else can. Often times someone recently out of the league (think Jeff Van Gundy when he was first hired by ESPN) is able to analyze games in a way longtime television analysts simply cannot. Howard can dive deep into certain tendencies of strikers he's just played against for viewers at home.
Furthermore, for NBC to take full advantage of one of the top American stars in the Premier League is a wise move to further lift their coverage in the eyes of stateside soccer fans. If Howard works out in the booth, this move could become one of the best innovations in sports broadcasting this year.