Opinion: World Cup Tv Coverage – is It the Best We Have Had?

By Mike Haymonds

The 15th edition of the FIH Men’s World Cup in Bhubaneswar and Rourkela has been judged as amongst the best for quality and drama and an important element in its undoubted success was the excellent TV coverage.

Despite intending to view the matches selectively, I ended up watching all but two games via the BT Sport coverage.

My recent experience of TV hockey coverage had been of Pro League games, also on BT Sport, and the World Cup coverage came across as much superior. Picture quality was good and the speed of the game was certainly captured. There were plentiful replays of goals, penalty corners and dramatic and contentious situations. The drama and tension at shootouts was also really well captured.

BHUBANESWAR – Thierry Brinkman krijgt de felicitatie’s na het scoren van 1-3 tijdens de wedstrijd tegen Australie om de derde plaats van het WK Hockey in India. ANP WILLEM VERNES

The two main commentators, Dan Strange and Charlie Brougham, were equally good with the right balance in description of the play, background facts and chat. Cedric D’Souza took over commentary for a few games but I felt his performance suffered by him talking too much and not letting the pictures tell the story.

To me, D’Souza was more comfortable in the role of pundit which he shared mostly with the legendary Ric Charlesworth, both performing differently. D’Souza was probably more incisive in his analysis of the play and its potential consequences while Charlesworth’s warm knowledgeable style – with a tinge of humour – was attractive.

There were some significant improvements over the usual Pro League coverage. In-play on-screen data – possession, shots on goal, circle penetrations – was helpful and a new graphics feature showed teams’ direction of play.

VAR situations, which were only rarely protracted, were understandable with conversation between umpires and video umpires clearly heard, although there was the occasional language problem.

Bhubaneswar, India FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023 26 India v New Zealand (Crossover) Image: Leon Hayward (GK) saves (Photo by WorldSportPics/Frank Uijlenbroek)

The feature which most bugged me was the very brief interviews with coaches immediately before the game and at half time and with players after the game. Until the semi-finals and final, nothing of value was said. For the coaches it was clearly a chore as they just wanted to get on with their job and from the players we only heard the predictable clichés.

Regrettably, the very end of the tournament suffered something of a disaster when the coverage of the presentation ceremony, which was running late after the shootout in the final, came to an early abrupt end when, with no warning, we switched over to a wrestling programme.

Overall, my verdict was of a very enjoyable experience. Hopefully the improvements we saw over the Pro League can be carried over to the TV coverage of that competition when it restarts this month.


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