It is rare to have a new use of technology slip under the radar, but the Milwaukee Bucks have managed to do that. The team has launched what it calls the "TV Companion" on its web site.
The concept is that fans can access game notes, real time statistics, and even a shot chart during the Bucks games, along with half-time and post-game video highlights. As a sports fan and an information freak, I would think this is a very good idea. That's what the team wants to hear.
But is this a good move? Hardly. It could actually prove extremely costly.
Suppose I use this feature on the team web site while I have a Bucks game on TV. Using "TV Companion" distracts from my watching the telecasts. I won't need to pay attention to the statistics on the screen as well as the other graphics because I'll be able to access information I want on my computer monitor.
Much of the hours of preparation and research done by the TV crew goes down the drain if the fans watching and listening can read it for themselves. This feature devalues the telecasts, with the exceptions being a great play or the last 30 seconds of a close game when us fans would prefer to see the drama unfold.
Yet, this is nothing when compared to the economic impact that I see. As the fans of the team are "distracted" by TV Companion, they will be looking at statistics and/or replays during commercial breaks. Businesses which spend thousands of dollars to reach this audience will have less of a reach. How does this get them to renew?
Fox Sports pays the team millions to televise these games, at least under the current contract. If they stop attracting significant advertising dollars, their bid goes down, and then it is less revenue for the team. And so on.
In addition, I have to believe the Bucks' radio broadcasts could also suffer for the same reasons. If fans can "see" the real time information and highlights on computer, this could significantly reduce in home radio listening to the game broadcasts. And reduce the advertising impact, sending the same chain reaction come the next rights fee negotiations.
However, I am going to take this one step further. I also think this feature will have a negative impact on attendance. Even though increasing attendance is the idea behind implementing this feature.
My theory on why the NFL is enjoying such incredible ratings success this season is not solely based on the economy and people not going out as much. I contend that the reason for the ratings increase is more due to technology. Football telecasts, especially for the NFL, continue to make strong improvements.
We now see the line of scrimmage, the "line" for the first down, and more and more the down and yards-to-go by looking at the field on our TV screens. The TV screens that are often HDTV and upwards of 50 inches. The other scores are regularly flashed on the screen, making the days of the "10 Minute Ticker" seem like a joke. Plus, we now have cameras moving right above the field and several angles of plays with any controversey.
It's not always the economy keeping people home or wherever they like to watch these games. The TV sets, the information, and the technology used that have made telecasts an incredible package of information and technology.
Neither of which we get when we attend a game. More and more fans compare having these state-of-the-art telecasts on advanced TV's a lot better than paying $25 to park for 3 hours to wait in line for overpriced food and sit in a stadium with one view and without all of the information their friends are getting at the same time watching on TV. That is what the NFL has created.
Likewise, this TV Companion feature the Bucks have introduced. People paying these inflated ticket prices, paying to park, buying food and drink, and sitting 150 feet from center court now don't even have anywhere near the information available that fans at home and online now can get. A night out at the game for 2 people is likely to be $100 and up. Now without the information that fans not leaving the living room are getting.
Generally speaking, I understand why teams are embracing the new technology. But if they continue to put it ahead of the fan experience, the TV and radio rights money won't be there, nor will be fans in the stands. In any economy.
Meanwhile, it seemed to be unusually big news that Jon Gruden has signed on to remain with ESPN for Monday Night Football and now additional assignements. The reviews have been positive for Gruden's first season in the booth, and it is understandable why from hearing his work thus far this season. This extension is getting a lot of media coverage. Gruden will also be a part of ESPN's Super Bowl and NFL Draft week coverage.
CINCINNATI: Speaking of NFL ratings for telecasts, the Cincinnati Bengals' hard fought win over Pittsburgh on Sunday was no secret locally. Cinci's Channel 12 showed 66% audience share for the telecast from Pittsburgh for the entire game, including a 48.5 rating and 74% audience share during the fourth quarter. This was the highest rated Bengals telecast since the November 2005 game vs. Indianapolis, which also had a 66% share with a higher rating.
PHILADELPHIA: Congrats to former WCAU-TV sportscaster Al Meltzer, who will be one of eight to be inducted this Friday (Nov. 20) into the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia Hall of Fame at a fund-raising banquet.
SAN DIEGO: Pleased to report that Tuesday (Nov. 17) is the scheduled return date of John Kentera to XX Sports Radio. This will be his first shift since suffering a heart attach in early October.
AUSTIN: BallParkDigest.com has named Mike Capps "Broadcaster of the Year" for his play-by-play of the Round Rock Express minor league games. Capps just completed his 3rd season on the call. If the name sounds familiar around the country, it is because this is the same Mike Capps who was an Emmy Award winning correspondent for CNN for five years. In addition, Capps was Sports Director at WFAA-TV in Dallas back in the 80's.
CHATTANOOGA: The women's basketball team Chattanooga is getting a lot of respect this season. If not in the polls, certainly in the media. This is hard to confirm, but this looks to be the largest market in the country to have every women's game aired on a local radio station (not a student station). The Zone 105.1, the local ESPN Radio affiliate, will air the majority of all 29 games this season. A few games will be moved to another station when there is a conflict with the men's games.
And while college hoops return in full swing this week, including the 24-hour marathon on ESPN, we look ahead to the national and regional college football schedule for later this week, with all times Eastern:
Wednesday, Nov. 18
6:00: Buffalo at Miami (Ohio), ESPNU
8:00: Central Michigan at Ball St., ESPN2
Thursday, Nov. 19
6:30: Tennessee St. at Eastern Illinois, ESPNU
7:30: Colorado at Oklahoma St., ESPN
Friday, Nov. 20
5:30: Akron at Bowling Green, ESPNU
9:30: Boise St. at Utah St., ESPN2
Saturday, Nov. 21
12:00: Ohio St. at Michigan, ABC
12:00: Minnesota at Iowa, ESPN
12:00: North Carolina at Boston College, ESPN2
12:00: Duke at Miami (Fla.), ESPNU
12:00: Harvard at Yale, Versus
2:30: Connecticut at Notre Dame, NBC-TV
2:30: Bethune-Cookman vs. Florida A&M, ESPN Classic
3:30: Penn St. at Michigan St., ABC
3:30: Purdue at Indiana, BTN
3:30: LSU at Mississippi, CBS
3:30: Virginia at Clemson, ESPN
3:30: N.C. State at Virginia Tech, ESPNU
4:00: San Diego St. at Utah, Versus
7:00: Vanderbilt at Tennessee, ESPNU
7:45: Kansas St. at Nebraska, ESPN
7:45: Kentucky at Georgia, ESPN2
8:00: Kansas at Texas or Oregon at Arizona, ABC
9:30: California at Stanford, Versus