Yle vs. Urheilukanava

Yle started their Veikkausliiga broadcasts today as FF Jaro played FC Lahti. The system in Finland is quite interesting: Urheilukanava broadcast the games from April to September, and Yle are only interested when the title is about to be won. The move from Urheilukanava to Yle may raise the number of people watching, as Urheilukanava is a channel directed at sports people and the popular Yle channels have something for everyone – except football fans.

I was prepared for my daily dose of football well in advance, and out of an old habit I turned on the TV half an hour before the game to watch the pre-game analysis – but instead, I had to watch men with bags full of testosterone tune a Ford Ranchero.When the broadcast started, only 10 minutes prior to kick-off, I only saw a widely unknown guy from Yle standing next to Juha Malinen, who had nothing interesting to say during the lucrative five minutes dedicated to the pre-match analysis.

After the game, the same team made a desperate attempt to discuss the game in a quarter of an hour, including post-match interviews. The ratings aside, difference between Yle and Urheilukanava was huge, to the advantage of the latter. If Yle really wants to broadcast the games, why not do it properly? In Urheilukanava, two highly enthusiastic football lovers dedicate 25 minutes to predicting the game before Finland’s best commentator, Tuomas Virkkunen, takes over.

And the same formula is used for every game, be it a largely uninteresting encounter between two mid-table teams or a highly anticipated clash between two top teams. Yle then interferes and ruins the whole thing for the most interesting games of the season. In addition to not doing things properly, they also force changes in the schedules. The televised game always starts at 4 PM, while other fixtures are kicked off at 7:30 as usual.

Anyway, KuPS suffered an expected 4-0 loss at Inter on Friday and they weren’t much helped on Sunday by TPS, whose new, more spirited style of play under John Allen meant a 2-1 loss to the struggling IFK Mariehamn. To cancel out Inter’s win, Honka took an expected win over KooTeePee and HJK took the win they needed at MyPa, the score being 3-1. FC Lahti had to settle with a 2-2 draw at Jaro and VPS got a point at TamU with each team scoring once.

There’s three points separating FC Honka from table-topping Inter, and if neither of the teams stumble, their clash in Turku on 5th October will be of a decisive nature as far as the title is concerned. HJK are five points away from the top and will have to use the backdoor if they want to join the title race. Other teams are ruled out unless miracles happen.

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5 Responses

  1. first of all , love your blog , its excellent !
    maybe you could bring this subject up in one of ur articles, its the fact that playing league games on sunday evenings at 6.30 is maybe not beneficial to anyone involved. i drag myself to the odd vps game , dire is the only word i find, same as watching at fc lahti, even hjk .
    sunday evening, people are winding down , planning for monday maybe travelling back to placs of study ( as is my case , ) watching football as the temperature plummets is maybe the reason one can hear a pin drop at most games .

    is there a reason why games cant be played on saturday afternoons ? and has it always been so ,because 5 years ago i seem to remember there being a different schedule!

    also over the years i have noticed the demographics of supporters change . vps games used to be packed with the children of the junior teams , nowadays they are scarce and the old men become more apparent .
    the needs of fanbases need to be met and catered for .
    sorry for going on and on , but its something i feel strongly about and before things change for the better off the field .( and on) i will continue to dread the veikkausliiga experience.

  2. While I agree with you about the pre and post match analysis being pathetic on YLE compared to Urheilukanava, there are quite a few things YLE did much better than urheilukanava.

    1. Camera work was worlds beyond what Urheilukanava has ever come even close to achieving. For once the match was well shot and directed (Much better than last year on YLE as well).

    2. The commentator was actually quite good, he was calm and didn’t make factual errors or the mistake that something needs to be said all the time no matter what (Reminded me of British commentators actually). Granted he was very different from Virkkunen, but that’s not always such a bad thing.

    3. The whole package had a professional feel about it including how the graphics and stuff didn’t look like they were from the seventies or that the studio is made from cardboard boxes.

    I just hope Finnish TV could combine best of both worlds the professonialism of YLE on the production and shooting side with the deeper analysis and genuine enthusiasm of Urheilukanava.

  3. finnbritt, thanks for the praise. Autumn fixtures are somewhat problematic indeed. I think the main reason they play on Sundays at 6:30 is because so many people go to their summer cottages for the weekend during the warmest months. The games then kick off late in the hope that the cottage people will be back in town by that. From September on the temperature for some people is cold enough for them not to show up. I guess you need a table-topping team, and in the case of Inter or Honka even that does not seem to help. Finns are gloryhunters.
    In the previous years they have played the last few rounds on Saturdays, but now it seems they stick to Sunday. The reason they don’t play on Saturdays in June or July is because of the cottage people again. I don’t think the abscence of cottage people would cause a dramatic change, but that’s what they seem to think at Veikkausliiga.

    Watcher, I agree with you that the camera work was OK, but I don’t think the change was very dramatic. I’ve been fairly satisfied with Urheilukanava in that sense.
    The commentator was OK, can’t disagree with you on that. YLE would have worse options. However, putting Virkkunen aside for no particularly good reason is something I can’t understand.
    Have to disagree with you as far as the professionalism goes though. I already mentioned some points in the post, but as for the graphics, they were OK. Except not necessarily very well prepared, the Lahti line-up was shown twice because Jukka Veltheim had been marked down as a goalkeeper in the first version.
    And the studio…well, if Yle had gotten their share of the infamous Ostrobothnian autumn wind, the “studio” would have ceased to exist in a matter of minutes.

  4. In retrospect I have to agree about the studio and it can be pretty much lumped together with the pre and post match analysis situation (doesn’t remove the fact that the Urheilukanava studio looks really bad as do their graphics). But otherwise as far as the professionalism goes specifically regarding the production quality, aside the missing studio parts, is leagues above Urheilukanava.
    I’ve been quite satisfied with Urheilukanava camera work, but I do think YLE was much better at it.

    And while I agree that Virkkunen should be the default commentator at least in big matches it can get a little grating to have the same guy in every match week in week out. Ideally he would be in every other week and in the big matches while a commentator like that of last sunday should do the rest.

    The biggest problem Urheilukanava has is weak signal coverage at best outside of cities and atleast in Helsinki cable network they have some serious problems at times in signal quality as well (it is unwatchable at times, UK are the only channel that has these problems in Helsinki).

    I genuinely hope these problems can be solved so that a larger audience can enjoy Urheilukanava in the future.

  5. I am know nothing about professional TV, mind you, so I don’t know what’s really good graphics. But I found Urheilukanava graphics informative enough. There’s nothing wrong with the studio that I spot, either. But maybe it’s just me.

    I had no problem with the commentary, but I just think Virkkunen is best suited. Your idea about having Virkkunen and Ennekari share the job is a good one too, but I think Virkkunen can pull it off all by himself if he needs to. The atmosphere at the stadia is not too good, so the commentators must be enthusiastic enough to keep the viewer interested and Virkkunen has loads of enthusiasm.

    As for the signal, I cannot possibly comment. I live in Turku and never have problems with Urheilukanava, but if it does not work properly in some areas it is an issue. But I believe the digital network is getting better all the time, though I’m not an expert.

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