While the guys playing in the World Cup are professionals, it seems the stateside broadcasters are still very much amateurs when it comes to displaying the beautiful game. I've caught a couple games since the tournament started, and while the quality of the broadcast is excellent. You can see everything very clearly and the sport is more fun to watch in widescreen, as you can see the positioning of the players better. While it is almost enough to wipe the nasty taste of the Winter Olympics debacle from my mouth, and doesn't have the HDTV compression problems cited in Korea
, there are still some issues to be worked out.
For reasons unknown to anyone with half a brain, ABC and ESPN have decided to obscure large areas of the screen with wide bars and dark translucent areas. Often when they go to a close shot of exciting action with two or more players battling for control of the ball or positioning, part of their heads get cut off at the top of the screen. Even worse, when they display stats or other information it often pops up and takes away a whole third or even half of the screen. It's silly and wouldn't pass in a high school sports broadcast. This screenshot from one of the posters on AVS Forum shows the BBC's minimal screen bug that gives a much better view of the pitch on an HDTV.
Also, it seems that neither ABC or ESPN-HD are passing the surround sound properly, leaving watchers without the feeling of actually being in the stadium. When you can really crank up the crowd noise and get into it, the game is at its best, much like the NBA's tests with silent games this year
. Especially with the World Cup and all the crazed fans, the background noise is as much a part of the game as the grass it's played on, it's the atmosphere.
[Thanks for the tip