'Getting involved' is BT Sport's new thing, as a means of connecting with what the viewer wants.
Allowing for the fact they have wrestled the people's game of football from terrestrial TV and put it behind a pretty pricey subscription service, they want their coverage to be as inclusive as possible. One could point out that they could be more inclusive by lowering the price, but, rather than do this, they have instead settled on their new show entitled Premier League Tonight.
The show is a reaction to the Premier League goings on over the weekend. It takes place in the studio used for the live broadcast that immediately preceded it, with Jake Humphrey in the hot seat. The show doesn't feature any highlights, instead featuring clips from post-game press conferences with dodgy audio. The main thrust of the show is studio debate led by "social media chatter".
Humphrey runs down an ever-changing list of 'Hot Topics' that might be up for discussion, gleaned from social media, appearing a couple of times on screen to earn the presenter's loving gaze:
Much of the show consists of the promise to discuss topics rather than the actual discussion of them. Each ad-break is prefaced by a kind of spinning wheel of desultory conversation, as viewers are encouraged to vote in a twitter poll for the topic they want to be discussed by Rio Ferdinand and Paul Scholes at the end. Last Saturday's topics were Mike Phelan's role at Hull (discussed at length in the live broadcast beforehand), Wilfried Zaha and the most dull conversation topic of all: the England defence.
In the end, the England defence won, with Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand given the topic for about 90 seconds before being forced to cut off at the end of the show. Viewers are also encouraged to tweet Humphrey and Ferdinand with their three-word match reports, with BT presumably hoping for pith and brilliance on the 'Headless Body In Topless Bar' level.
This involves Humphrey and Ferdinand playing with their phones on air and engaging in top b****r about their number of twitter followers. This is, in fact, compelling viewing, as Paul Scholes displays a stoic and heroic level of disgust at this new-fangled behaviour. Have a look at Scholes grimace upon one top gag by the lads:
Here it is in video format, as Ferdinand reads a tweet from the nuanced, analytical football brain of @FinancialBear. Keep an eye on Scholes, who - spiritually at least - couldn't be any further from the studio.
The show does occasionally break into an engaging debate. While Hargreaves doesn't offer much, Ferdinand and Scholes are intelligent and insightful. Both were interesting on Daniel Sturridge - saying that he simply has to work through the pain barrier, with Ferdinand drawing on his experience at United - and the brief debate on the English defence wasn't bad: they at least introduced a new name to the debate: Michael Keane, whom Scholes coached at United. Scholes was also highly entertaining in claiming that Mike Dean should be "taken away for a couple of weeks" during a slot with Howard Webb, who appears to be contractually obliged to appear in every single show on BT.
The show's problem is that they are misunderstanding what the viewer wants. Most viewers want to hear more of these debates between Scholes and Ferdinand, rather than be consistently told about what is trending: something most fans will know anyway. Scroll the three-word match reports on the screen if you must, but it shouldn't come at the expense of insight from Ferdinand or Scholes. The fans watching the show are the one's who have invariably stayed in on a Saturday night: they want the expert opinon. If they wanted to chat about the game with the likes of @FinancialBear, they'd have gone to the pub.
Elsewhere, The Sunday Game evening edition was beguiled by one of the games of the year. Des Cahill had returned from the front line in Rio de Janeiro, and opened by tossing gags around like helmets discarded after a war.He referenced his trip to Rio as quiet, before introducing the Kerry/Dublin game with a "I thought I'd finished hearing about tickets, but Kerry/Dublin became the hottest ticket in town".
Post-game debate turned to a preview of the Mayo/Dublin final, with Des frantically trying to steer the panel away from solely Dublin talk towards a chat about Mayo. He failed, with Colm O'Rourke, Liam Kerins and Des Dolan unable to see past the strengths of the Dubs. After a couple of minutes of gently trying to guide his panelists into this direction, Des eventually responded in exasperation:
Rec017 by yossarianlives5
Des ended with a wry smile, saying that the folk of people will be throwing objects at the TV. Mayo people may have been unimpressed, but it was good TV.
Sometimes, it's better not to give the viewer what you think they want.
Garth Crooks corner
Garth was most impressed by Arsenal on Football Focus:
Just watch Garth Crooks' reaction to Mesut Ozil's goal 👏 https://t.co/KO3TeDXH3y
— Match of the Day (@BBCMOTD) August 27, 2016
Best dressed pundit of the week
Literally Jamie is usually dressed sharply, but he looked better than usual in the building site Sky found for him at White Hart Lane.
See Also: Weekend TV Review: Looking At BT's Ridiculous Rival To Soccer Saturday And Gary Lineker's Majestic Body