Greetings from an old veteran of SBNation . .. . but one who is a noob here. I'm a long-time cycling fan, dating back to the days of LeMond, and a veteran follower of the Tour going back to when you could only get a few snippets of footage on the major networks. Apologies if this post violates any of the Podium Cafe norms . . . I know how each SB Nation board tends to have its own expectations.
I've been puzzled by the NBC Sports Network coverage of this year's Tour. Last year, of course, Craig Hummer got kicked to the curb (or at least out of the booth), apparently to allow a "bigger" NBC presence in the form of McHugh. I guess I liked Hummer just fine . . . he was nothing special . . . but he did have a nice rapport with LIggett and Sherwen during the morning pre-game show. McHugh's probably ok too. Caveat: I never have paid any attention to the replay show where, for reasons I have never understood, OLN/Versus/NBC Sports have seen value in having American voices blunder through a play-by-play.I have long feared that the network would jettison the expense of Liggett and Sherwen, and I'm not quite sure what I would do if that were to happen. It would be very hard for me to watch the race . . . I suppose I'd have to do it with the volume turned off.
This year's developments have been more disturbing to me. I live on the West Coast, and so watching the DVR of the pre-game show is part of my July morning ritual as I eat my cereal. For some reason, they have locked LIggett and Sherwen into the broadcast box and only let them participate, briefly, in the pre-race predictions. We are instead treated to a much higher proportion of Bobke commentary, now supplemented the Poor Scott Moninger. It's hard to imagine someone in a broadcast booth less suited to commentary than Moninger, who Wiki tells me is a highly successful former American cyclist who, apparently, never made it across the Pond to the TdF. Regardless of his professional qualifications, he just isn't sufficiently articulate to survive as a commentator. I just cringe in embarrassment for the guy whenever he is called upon to speak.
Has anyone heard the backstory as to what is going on here? I suppose it could just be that it is too difficult to coordinate the pre-race show and the play-by-play. But Liggett and Sherwen managed to be in the same studio for years, and I can't imagine what changed now.
One unrelated question as well: does the Liggett/Sherwen play-by-play get used on other networks around the world? Until recently, of course, the TdF was probably the ONLY cycling event that got broadcast in the US. I had presumed that Liggett/Sherwen primarily worked for a European network (presumably British, of course). But I'm sort of curious, if their play-by-play does get used by other outlets, how they manage to purge the feed of the endless plugs for the "quality" programming of NBC Sports and the various US sponsors.