The world was shocked when Christian Eriksen collapsed on the pitch nearly two weeks ago during the Denmark-Finland match at UEFA Euro 2020. The footage of Eriksen on the pitch, being worked on by medics and surrounded by emotional teammates, was raw, emotional, and somewhat disturbing. Stateside, an ESPN producer said the world feed director “severely crossed the line” and that the coverage was, at times, “incredibly inappropriate.”
It turns out that viewers across the pond felt similarly. The BBC received 6,417 complaints about the broadcast of Eriksen’s collapse. At the time, the BBC noted that they didn’t control the world feed coverage, and apologized to anyone upset by the coverage.
In response to everyone blaming the world feed, UEFA passed the buck back, noting that all broadcasters could have cut back to studio coverage if they wanted.
“In relation to the TV pictures, we would like to inform that all TV stations have had the opportunity to cut back to their studios – there were many who did. It is their editorial choice to stay on live images or not.”
Amy Rosenfeld, the lead ESPN producer quoted earlier, said that this indeed was an option, but that it was a last resort.
“But if you do that, you relinquish all ability to document anything,” she said. “It’s gut-wrenching. I’ve thought it through since, and I think in hindsight there were moments where we should have abandoned the feed because it was especially egregious. We took a lot of licks for staying with it, and I understand why. It’s a learning experience, and one I haven’t stopped thinking about.”
Over 6,000 complaints seems significant, but just how significant? The Independent called it “one of the most-complained about TV moments in UK history,” but it still fell far short of the benchmark. Earlier this year, the BBC’s wall to wall coverage of Prince Philip’s death generated over 110,000 complaints. Prior to that, the record was held by a broadcast of Jerry Springer: The Opera, which drew more than 63,000 complaints back in 2005.