A raven’s come in with the news that the Men in Blazers will have a new summer home. Roger Bennett and Michael Davies’ NBCSN TV show wrapped up for the season a couple of weeks back, and Vice Sports announced Thursday that the duo will be providing daily online coverage of Euro 2016 and the Copa América Centenario for them this June. From their release:
Today, VICE Sports is excited to announce that it will be the exclusive digital partner for Men In Blazers’ Copa América and Euro 2016 coverage.
The leading voices for soccer coverage in America, Roger “Rog” Bennett and Michael “Davo” Davies of Men in Blazers will bring their special mix of incisive analysis and witty commentary to VICE Sports throughout the two tournaments, which will be running simultaneously in the United States and Europe respectively throughout the month of June.Kicking off on June 3rd, Rog and Davo will team up with celebrities and special guests to host video coverage produced by Embassy Row and daily livestreams of the biggest and most interesting developments from the United States and Europe. With drama unfolding at the same time on two different continents, Men In Blazers will bring the action home with the same inside jokes and special guests that have made Men In Blazers the idiosyncratic soccer sensations they are.“We think this summer is going to be the most impactful summer of soccer in terms of the sport’s growth in the US since the ’94 World Cup. In talking to Rog and Davo it became clear we shared the same perspective and sensibility about what was missing in terms of how the game is covered and talked about in America. Having the Euros and Copa going on simultaneously for over a month, and partnering with Men In Blazers for the entirety of it, is going to make for a killer summer,” said VICE Sports Publisher Will Kiersky.“While there is no World Cup this year, the combined effect of the Copa America by night, reinforced by Euro 2016 every afternoon, will make this summer feel like the Dietetic Chocolate of World Cups. American sports fans will be enthralled by the narrative of the world’s best soccer players doing battle across two continents, and we are honored by the chance to cover every breathtaking goal, surprise result, and new neck tattoo on VICE.” Said Roger Bennett, Men in Blazers.
It’s interesting to see these guys partner with VICE for digital-only coverage, considering that they’ve previously been TV pundits for both ESPN and NBC. However, this may be about their ongoing deal with NBC and NBC’s lack of rights to these tournaments. The Euro 2016 rights are held by ESPN and the Copa rights are held by Fox, and even if either network wanted to bring in the Men in Blazers, there are likely elements in their NBC contracts that would prevent them from working for a direct competitor. However, it’s curious that NBC didn’t want to feature this kind of coverage from MiB themselves, given that they have potentially-suitable digital platforms (the NBC Sports homepage, NBC SportsWorld and the newly-separated Playmaker Media streaming division). SportsWorld seems to be mostly just a platform for Joe Posnanski’s columns these days, though, and Playmaker Media is mostly about selling NBC’s streaming technology and expertise to leagues, not creating extra digital-only content (and if they did, it would likely be for events they had broadcast rights to). This partnership likely makes some sense for both MiB and Vice; it should help bring new readers and viewers to Vice and gives their soccer coverage enhanced visibility, and it gives MiB a reasonably prominent platform to discuss these soccer tournaments. We’ll see how popular it proves to be.