With the Qatar World Cup now just days away, nations are beginning to release their final squads as the excitement and anticipation surrounding the tournament continues.

However, a key part of any major tournament is the battle for ratings between BBC and ITV.

Each network shows their own particular games before both broadcast the final – giving viewers a direct choice over where to watch the showpiece event.

ITV has revealed its punditry line-up for the upcoming Qatar World Cup, with Gary Neville, Roy Keane, Ian Wright and Graeme Souness among those in the studio

ITV has revealed its punditry line-up for the upcoming Qatar World Cup, with Gary Neville, Roy Keane, Ian Wright and Graeme Souness among those in the studio

The BBC has also revealed its line-up of pundits and presenters for their World Cup coverage, which will begin with the hosts Qatar taking on Ecuador on November 20. (Left to right) Ashley Williams, Didier Drogba, Pablo Zabaleta, Danny Gabbidon (sitting), Alex Scott, Mark Chapman, Gabby Logan (sitting), Rio Ferdinand, Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer, Micah Richards (sitting), Kelly Somers, Jermaine Jenas, Jurgen Klinsmann, Catrin Heledd

The BBC has also revealed its line-up of pundits and presenters for their World Cup coverage, which will begin with the hosts Qatar taking on Ecuador on November 20. (Left to right) Ashley Williams, Didier Drogba, Pablo Zabaleta, Danny Gabbidon (sitting), Alex Scott, Mark Chapman, Gabby Logan (sitting), Rio Ferdinand, Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer, Micah Richards (sitting), Kelly Somers, Jermaine Jenas, Jurgen Klinsmann, Catrin Heledd

BBC will show the tournament opener between Qatar and Ecuador on November 20, while they also have England’s group games against Iran and Wales on November 29.

ITV meanwhile will show England’s second group game against the USA on November 25, while they have secured the first and second pick of the last-16 matches and the first pick of the quarter-finals – but BBC have first pick for the semi-finals.

Both channels have announced their star studded line-ups with legendary TV presenter Gary Lineker fronting up the BBC’s coverage, alongside fellow broadcasters in Mark Chapman, Alex Scott and Gabby Logan.

They have gone all out on their pundits, with these including footballing legends Didier Drogba, Pablo Zabaleta, Rio Ferdinand, Alan Shearer, Jurgen Klinsmann, Jermaine Jenas, Micah Richards, Vincent Kompany and Gilberto Silva. 

The BBC’s commentary team will feature the likes of Martin Keown, Danny Murphy, Robbie Savage and Peter Schmeichel alongside regulars like Jonathan Pearce, Steve Wilson and Guy Mowbray 

The World Cup is fast approaching, with the first match in Doha now less than a week away

The World Cup is fast approaching, with the first match in Doha now less than a week away

The ITV’s coverage meanwhile will be fronted by Mark Pougatch, Laura Woods and Seema Jaswal, while their pundits also include Ian Wright, Karen Carney, Nigel De Jong and Joe Cole. 

Their commentary team features Sam Matterface, Clive Tyldesley, Jon Champion, Seb Hutchinson and Joe Speight, alongside co-commentators Lee Dixon, Ally McCoist, John Hartson and Andros Townsend. 

Nigel De Jong, Nadia Nadim and Hal Robson-Kanu will also be part of their team. 

Perhaps most crucially, ITV have snapped up Sky Sports stars Roy Keane, Gary Neville and Graeme Souness.

They have also recruited Peter Walton as a referee analyst to look at contentious decisions during the games.

But how do the two rosters compared? Here, Sportsmail goes through various categories to see which of the major broadcasters is leading the way this winter.

From experience and humour to trophies won and on-screen chemistry, it’s time to find out whether it’s ITV or the BBC who rule the airwaves…

Experience

If there’s one thing that is certain, it’s both teams are full of broadcasting royalty and tip-top experience. 

Starting with the big guns, Lineker has been presenting Match of the Day – and at every major tournament – since 1999, and is backed up by fellow presenting favourites Chapman and Logan, while on ITV Pougatch has been on our screens since the late 90s too.

It’s hard to look past the nous of the BBC’s team, with Shearer a MOTD regular since retiring in 2006, featuring alongside Scott, Richards, Keown, Murphy and Jenas – who are all also regulars on the BBC’s flagship football show. 

Gary Lineker will front the BBC's coverage from Qatar

Alex Scott will also feature prominently

Regular BBC presenters Gary Lineker (left) and Alex Scott (right) will be prominent on their World Cup coverage

ITV though have been boosted by the acquisitions of sky pundits Gary Neville and Roy Keane

ITV though have been boosted by the acquisitions of sky pundits Gary Neville and Roy Keane 

ITV’s roster is no doubt boosted by the three Sky Sports heavyweights of Souness, Neville and Keane, while they also include rising stars of the presenting and punditry world in Carney, Cole and Woods. 

The use of Walton – a feature of our screens on BT Sport as a refereeing expert over recent years, is also a big plus in ITV’s corner, with BBC lacking an equivalent.

Overall though, in terms of experience, the BBC are just ahead with their well-travelled core and formidable talent, while the sprinkling of international flavour in Drogba, Klinsmann and Zabaleta will only add more nous to their coverage.  

BBC 9/10

ITV 8/10 

Humour

It’s a real shame that Richards and Keane will be working on separate networks with the entertainment the pair generate together a big feature of Sky Sports’ Premier League coverage.

By having Richards, the BBC are in a good position, especially with his potential collaborations with former Man City teammate Kompany.

However, a big advantage for ITV is the Champion-McCoist link-up that has become one of the best bits of Amazon Prime’s coverage of the top flight. 

It is a shame for viewers that Keane and Micah Richards are working on different channels

It is a shame for viewers that Keane and Micah Richards are working on different channels 

Keane’s dry wit is also an entertaining watch, and Neville has also demonstrated his often self-depreciating humour while on Sky and when presenting his popular show, the Overlap. 

Wright’s presence on ITV gives them the edge, with the former Arsenal striker one of the most entertaining and insightful pundits on TV.

This entertainment will come in handy when we’re watching Tunisia vs Australia as our 21st game during the first week of the tournament.  

BBC 8/10

ITV 9/10 

ITV also have Ian Wright, with the former Arsenal striker one of the most entertaining pundits

ITV also have Ian Wright, with the former Arsenal striker one of the most entertaining pundits

Controversy

There was a little bit of controversy initially with the BBC appointments after Williams was charged by the FA with improper conduct and violent, threatening behaviour at a children’s match.

However, the former Swansea City captain was cleared of any wrongdoing earlier this week.

The BBC line-up is littered with star studded talent and despite many of these pundits enjoying fierce rivalries during their playing careers, it is more about mutual respect than controversy – with Ferdinand previously labelling Drogba as the best African footballer to ever play in the Premier League.

Sparks are likely to fly more over on ITV, with Keane, Souness and Neville known to be frank in exchanging views while working together for Sky.

There is also both sides of the Old Firm present in Hartson and McCoist, although arguably both channels will see a bit of friendly banter when England face Wales in the group, with Robson-Kanu (ITV) and Williams (BBC) both huge parts of their nation’s memorable run to the semi-finals of Euro 2016. 

BBC 5/10

ITV 6/10 

ITV will have both sides of the Old Firm present in John Hartson (Celtic) and Ally McCoist (Rangers)

McCoist's link-up with Jon Champion on co-commentary is likely to be an entertaining watch for viewers

ITV will have both sides of the Old Firm present in John Hartson (Celtic) and Ally McCoist (Rangers)

Chemistry

Much of this part of the ‘punditry wars’ consists of familiarity and longevity of friendships between pundits.

The BBC are strengthened in their quest for success through Lineker and Shearer’s 16-year career spent presenting together, while the likes of Jenas, Murphy and Keown have all regularly appeared on MOTD together.

However, again at ITV, the presence of the Sky Sports pundits in Souness, Neville and Keane is crucial – with the trio having worked together and bounced off each other for years.

The potential collaboration of the popular commentary duo of Champion and McCoist also boosts their chemistry, while Matterface and Dixon have regularly worked together on England games, giving them international experience. 

We have been blessed with several experienced and well-versed broadcasters in the line-ups of both channels, but ITV slightly edge it.

BBC 8/10

ITV 9/10

Both teams are full of talent with Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer working together since 2006

Both teams are full of talent with Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer working together since 2006

ITV's Neville and Keane have significant experience working together for Sky Sports

Keane is likely to be as box office as ever in ITV's coverage for the World Cup

ITV’s Neville and Keane also have significant experience working together for Sky Sports

Trophies  

In the attempts to find fairness, due to the number of BBC pundits exceeding the list released so far by ITV, we have worked out this factor in a trophies per person type mechanism.

Following a trawl through each and every pundits Wikipedia page and a look at their list of honours during their career, ITV are statistically the more decorated list of pundits.

With 155 trophies between 13 former professionals in their team’s coverage, ITV average 11.9 trophies per pundit.

The BBC meanwhile has enjoyed more success with 201 honours between them, but they have enlisted 22 pundits.

They have gone for specific coverage from Vincent Kompany, Gilberto Silva, Mark Schwarzer and Pablo Zabaleta for games involving their countries, but the increased number means that they average just 9.1 trophies per pundit.

Alex Scott (L) and Peter Schmeichel (R) were the most decorated pundits from their careers with 24 honours each, but ITV had a better average of trophies per pundit and are victorious

Schmeichel won 15 trophies with Manchester United, while he also won Euro 1992 with Denmark

Alex Scott (L) and Peter Schmeichel (R) were the most decorated pundits from their careers with 24 honours each, but ITV had a better average of trophies per pundit and are victorious

The BBC have also managed to bring in Chelsea legend Didier Drogba to boost their coverage

The BBC have also managed to bring in Chelsea legend Didier Drogba to boost their coverage

The BBC do have the most decorated pundits however, with Alex Scott and Peter Schmeichel both being tied on 24 honours, while they also have Gilberto Silva – who is the only pundit to have won the now-defunct Confederations Cup – a trophy he won twice.

Danny Gabbidon (BBC) and Andros Townsend (ITV) are the only pundits with no honours, although Gabbidon was successful in the play-offs on two occasions but for our research, we focused on specific trophies.

Townsend meanwhile was a runner up in both the League Cup and the under-19 Euros, although he did at least win the Premier League Goal of the Season in 2018-19.

But overall, to ensure fairness, we have to award  this factor on a trophy per pundit mechanism, meaning that ITV, helped again by the Sky Sports trio of Neville, Keane and Souness, who won a combined 63 honours – emerge victorious.

BBC – 8/10

ITV – 9/10 

Final scores: BBC 38/50, ITV 41/50

WINNERS: ITV 



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