Before he joined beIN Sport, the ambitious soccer network that has been gobbling up U.S. TV rights, Ray Hudson would listen to music on the drive to and from work. Motown lifted his spirits, classical would ease his frayed nerves.
These days, Hudson enjoys silent solitude cruising to the Miami studio. He knows what awaits him.
“It’s just a hive of activity. What an operation,” he said in a phone chat this week. “I like listening to music in the car, especially when I’m on the Florida Turnpike with all of those maniacs, but I need some quiet before I get to the madhouse.”
Describing beIN Sport’s rapid rise, he said, “How the hell they have pulled it off is a minor miracle. Technologically, it’s mind-boggling and eye-popping.”
And Hudson -- the Geordie boy who parlayed a playing/coaching career and colorful personality into a commentating gig that has spawned a mock Twitter page, adoring Web sites and YouTube compilations -- is loving every minute of it.
This summer he and longtime broadcast partner Phil Schoen transferred to beIN Sport from GolTV, which is also based in South Florida. The new channel launched Aug. 15 and features Spain’s La Liga, Italy’s Serie A, France’s Ligue 1 and England’s Championship tier. It will also carry South American World Cup qualifiers and CONCACAF qualifiers, including two U.S. away matches this fall and, assuming the Americans advance, every final-round road game in 2013, except the Mexico visit.
Non-soccer events are also in the long-term plans.
At the moment, beIN Sport is available on DirecTV and DISH Network only. However, Comcast, the nation’s largest cable provider, has agreed to add it to its lineup soon and Time Warner, the second-biggest provider, is being lined up.
Until additional announcing teams are set, Schoen and Hudson are calling most of the matches. Hudson said they handled about a dozen games over four days last week.
With beIN Sport presenting the U.S. vs. Jamaica qualifier next Friday night from Kingston, Hudson will probably have a chance to call his first USA match. (The producers will make the final decisions, he said.) He has done studio work for American games – he worked stateside for ESPN during the 2002 World Cup in South Korea/Japan -- but never called the live U.S. action.
Until beIN Sport’s operations are humming along, Hudson figures he will do his thing while watching a monitor in Miami. Next year, though, he and Schoen could end up on location.
“This work, it’s such a thrill,” said Hudson, 57, who coached the Miami Fusion in 2000-01 and D.C. United in 2002-03. “I get so excited. I love it. The doctor says I need to relax, but it’s who I am, man.”
My favorite Hudson quote during his time in Washington.....
Describing midfielder Dema Kovalenko’s fierce playing personality, Ray said: ”He’d stab his grandmother in the eye for another bowl of porridge.”
Here is my profile of him shortly after he accepted the DCU job.
You can follow Hudson on his authentic Twitter feed.