[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 NBCSports.com. 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
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.