MEDIA: THE FA CUP FINAL - AN EXPERT'S VIEW. Richard Selby ignores the silky playing skills to view the battle between the BBC and Sky Sports

My usual armchair kit of Stella and Pringles was replaced on Saturday by notebook and pen. As a neutral fan (Ipswich, seeing as you asked) I was able to look beyond the football and instead observe the equally important match taking place between broadcasters.

The game and traditional pre-match build-up was live on BBC1 and Sky Sports 1. So Lineker, Hansen, Motson and Brooking et al took on Keys, Souness, Tyler and Gray. Sky's Martin Tyler is an excellent and knowledgeable commentator, if less cuddly than the more excitable Motson. His partner, Andy Gray, has toned down the bombast of late, but I felt he was dying to bark "Mart'n, that's game over!" as soon as Arsenal so much as won their first corner.

Assuming the BBC won the ratings match, it's hard to fault Sky's presentation.

It runs a pretty slick operation and has forced the BBC to raise its game over the past few years.

Sky's broadcast was more of a marketing exercise than a football show.

The graphics and stings were attractive (example: The FAmous Cup) and I detected a Lord of the Rings influence in the direction of one set of clips. As usual Sky unashamedly plugged its forthcoming football fare.

BBC plugged its sportscasts too, but the shortage of such trails on Saturday indicated that the BBC has nothing left in the football locker this season apart from the Uefa Cup Final.

On the commercial side, the absence of a single headline broadcast sponsor for Sky's coverage stuck out like a Sol Campbell elbow. The FA Cup itself has never been a natural bedfellow to sponsorship (the dalliance with Axa aside) and this may have something to do with Sky not flogging the break bumpers as effectively as it has done with Ford for its Premiership coverage.

The half-time ad breaks on Sky included a few surprises, including L'Oreal Elvive Shampoo (it had better be for men or shoot the buyer) and Lou Reed's new CD. The Daily Telegraph best-seller ad starring Alan Hansen popped up just as the great man was talking on the other side.

In the Millennium Stadium, the scrolling perimeter boards were a little too intrusive for my taste. But I can remember that McDonald's, Pepsi, Nationwide and Umbro were all on show.

The ups and downs of branding were demonstrated by the teams' shirt sponsors.

I had to look twice to spot the rather flat type-based Friends Provident logo on the Saints' shirts. While the distinctive O2 logo leapt out from the Gunners' tops. In fact, for 40 minutes I was hoping for a two-nil win for Southampton: if only for the irony of seeing Arsenal display their losing scoreline on their own chests.

Broadcasters: BBC1 and Sky Sports 1

Frequency: 17 May from 1pm

Audience: 8.3 million for BBC1, 1.3 million for Sky Sports 1

Advertisers on Sky included: L'Oreal, Volkswagen, Gillette

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