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NBC picks Arlo White for play-by-play
by Ridge Mahoney, December 1st, 2011 12:04AM

TAGS:  mls, television


[TELEVISION WATCH] Another English broadcaster has been picked to be the face and voice of soccer on an American network. NBC Sports Group, which begins a three-year commitment to MLS and U.S. Soccer programming next year, has named Arlo White -- the voice of the Seattle Sounders -- to head its telecasts. He has worked Sounders' broadcasts the past two seasons following nine years at the BBC.

“It is a tremendous honor for me to join the NBC Sports Group, an organization that I have revered from afar for many years,” said White. “I am extremely passionate about the future of Major League Soccer, and this partnership with NBC will provide a huge boost for the sport in the United States. I am very proud to have been called up to play a major role in it.

“I am indebted to the Seattle Sounders FC and the club's wonderful fans,” White added. “[Team owner] Joe Roth and [general manager] Adrian Hanauer provided me with an opportunity for which I will always be grateful. It was a privilege to serve as the voice of the Sounders, and I thank the supporters for giving me such a warm welcome.”

Major League Soccer and the NBC Sports Group announced in August a three-year media rights agreement that commences at the start of the 2012 MLS season and is reportedly worth about $10 million per year.

Following the purchase of NBC Universal by Comcast earlier this year, the Versus channel is being re-branded as the NBC Sports Network as of Jan. 2. Prior to the Comcast-NBC deal, Versus was available in about 75 million U.S. households.

Under terms of the agreement, 46 MLS games and four U.S. national team matches will be shown live on NBC and NBC Sports Network each season, and will also be live-streamed on This agreement was the first rights deal for  on January 2, 2012.

NBC will broadcast three regular-season MLS games and two playoff games each year, along with two U.S. matches. The NBC Sports Network will televise 38 regular-season games, three playoff games, and two
U.S. matches.

Along with MLS telecasts on five Comcast SportsNets (Philadelphia, New England, Bay Area, Mid-Atlantic and Chicago), the agreement provides coverage across the NBC Sports Group’s four platforms: broadcast network, national cable, regional sports networks, and digital media.

White worked for nine years with BBC Radio Sport in England, for which he was part of the Radio 5-Live announcing team for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. He has also covered other major international sporting events such as the Cricket World Cup,

ESPN set an English precedent last year by hiring veteran English announcers Martin Tyler and Ian Darke to head its World Cup coverage, and Darke is now the network's lead announcer for MLS and U.S. games. Fox Soccer analyst Kyle Martino is believed to be NBC's top choice to work alongside White, who handled most Sounders' games with a sideline reporter but no partner in the booth.

  1. Gerald Laing
    commented on: December 1, 2011 at 9:11 a.m.
    Paul Gardner rant on English announcers in America starting in

  1. Jim Murphy
    commented on: December 1, 2011 at 10:03 a.m.
    (looking for a "like" button for Gerald's comment....) Yes, what Gerald said.

  1. Albert Harris
    commented on: December 1, 2011 at 11:53 a.m.
    At least he will be a Brit announcer who's spent a couple years here and might actually know something about the players in the league and not be as clueless as some of the other BBC "accents" have been. I'm not familiar with his work and look forward to actually judging him on his work, not his country of origin. Just as an aside, I'd like to see NBC try the Sounders method of using just a single announcer in the booth with the sideline reporters and "experts" making their comments during breaks in the action as opposed to the endless chatting that now occurs in a 2 person booth.

  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: December 1, 2011 at 12:14 p.m.
    at least the Brit announcers are mostly of few words and meaningful while the American ones suffocate the game to ad nauseum...Al Harris makes a solid point...the real problem is that pairing commentators and scripting their talking points becomes winded...MLS commentators force feed the viewer with 75% of garbage talk which has nothing to do with the game at's like listening to MLB commentary, IRRELEVANT!!!

  1. Margaret Manning
    commented on: December 1, 2011 at 12:48 p.m.
    Albert Harris: SSFC posted a montage of moments. It's been a great experience for Sounders fans; sorry to lose him but good to know he'll be there in MLS games. He works best alone; they should let Kyle do pre-half-and post with him, but it's his unique way of relating to listeners while working alone that was so much fun.

  1. Gerald Laing
    commented on: December 1, 2011 at 1:02 p.m.
    I agree with you Albert. The problems usually stem from 2 person crews. I've even heard Latin American broadcasts turn into endless gabbing while the game is going on.

  1. John Soares
    commented on: December 1, 2011 at 1:07 p.m.
    I too am not a big fan of the "accents". However, having listened to his broadcasts several times. I think Arlo is a good exception to what has become a rule. Not only does he call a good, smart and informed game. He is familiar with MLS players or at least does his home work before each game. His commentary is usually "short", intelligent/knowledgeable and to the point, very short on chatter. Hopefully, chatter will not be a NBC requirement.

  1. Paul Lorinczi
    commented on: December 1, 2011 at 3:38 p.m.
    I was hoping for Phil and Ray. Both know MLS and Ray Hudson just makes a person laugh. They type of character the league needs to reach a wider audience.

  1. Jake Brodesky
    commented on: December 2, 2011 at 11:10 a.m.
    Arlo talks non-stop during games. It's like he's doing a radio game. Let it breathe big guy. Let the game breathe.

  1. bgix
    commented on: December 2, 2011 at 12:02 p.m.
    When doing Sounders games, he *was* doing a radio game, as they were simulcast over the radio. At least when he is talking, it is about the game at hand, and not some tangential BS nobody cares about. The comments about his accent sound downright xenophobic. He calls a good game, and that should be all that matters.

  1. Robert Kiernan
    commented on: December 3, 2011 at 11:19 a.m.
    Not really a big fan of Kyle Martino, but I'm hopeful that NBC will be wise enough to realize that the typical English Language broadcast of much of our League and even National Team matches has been prone to having twin Color guys arguing some arcane point while often paying little mind to the actual match going on in front of them... I would far prefer someone, accent or not... that actually does PLAY BY PLAY of a match rather than do endless "Analysis" that often has only tangential connection to the match at hand. The worst of this sort of coverage are the Broadcasters who come from covering BASEBALL... they oh so often clearly have a set of talking points and promotional spots and go back to them repeatedly like a safety blanket... they tend to add little and are far more prepared to cover "Controversy" or "Personality" but so often have little or no clue as to what is happening in front of their faces... much better to have someone covering things "In the Moment"... this is why so often a typical English Language broadcast is rather disconnected from the match at hand and lacking real feeling. The best guy who has done much of the play by play over recent years is Glenn Davis on ESPN, he always was aware that no matter what the discussion going on was talking about... when something ON THE FIELD was happening it should always take priority over talk or Analysis...and so He nearly ALWAYS has the sense to immediately go back into PLAY BY PLAY mode. Since this is NBC and they have TELEMUNDO as part of their package, I would say that ANDRES CANTOR has shown a decent ability to do play by play in English as well as Spanish... but whomever does these matches needs to show both knowledge of the Teams and the Play going on... and brings some PASSION to the coverage... that doesn't mean HYPE and endless Ass-kissing which is something that MLS has had in spades... but if a shot is coming, well that should be delivered as if it is Important... which if you are AT THE GAME...ALWAYS IS... rather than as an interruption of whatever aside the dueling Color Guys are obsessing with at any given moment. I understand that there are times in matches... more than most like to admit... that not all that much is happening and at those times yeah you can cue the color guy, but there is nothing that kills the DRAMA of a match more than a Broadcast Crew that seems boarded by the match... Half Time or Pre-Game are fine times to get into Analysis...and if something happens OFF THE BALL... say an Injury or a foul, well MENTION IT DAMN IT... the lack of showing a match as second to second is arguably the single biggest reason so many Non Soccer Fanatics talk about how "Bored" they find a soccer match... and sorry folks but if you want to hit up the Networks and the Sponsors for have to help deliver and keep and audience and regardless of Accent, if the folks doing it seem less than drawn to can count on the Fans to reflect that as well. ...(ICE)

  1. Mj Lee
    commented on: January 1, 2012 at 12:08 p.m.
    I didn't get to hear Arlo much in the 2011 season, as for some reason, the networks used other announcers during Seattle broadcasts (I'm in San Jose). But I applaud his selection by NBC, as he is one of the few in the USA that are both highly competent and entertaining.

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