Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Stop Insulting Sports Fans

With all of these sports channels, networks, and stations on TV and radio putting multiple competitors in front of us sports fans 24/7, you would think some of them would know not to insult what little audience they have.

NBC Sports Network has only one month to fill up air time until the NHL season starts and viewers begin to trickle back in. Their Labor Day morning certainly didn't help. Once again, as I have been pointing out, The Dan Patrick Show was not live on Labor Day. Heck, it was only after the first college football Saturday, the start of the final month of the MLB regular season, the start of Week 1 of the NFL season, and the start of the U.S. Open. Again, Dan Patrick can take all of the days off he wants. But, given the resources of NBC, there is NO excuse for not having a guest host on live. None.

But it gets worse. Unlike past re-runs of outdated Dan Patrick segments, this time there was no indication on the screen of an "Encore Presentation". This meant it took upwards of 30 seconds before a viewer could determine that they were being deceived by a repeat. Or, a viewer could have thought that NBC Sports Network was days behind with their sports information. Not telling us that a show is pre-recorded borders on misleading what few viewers there were.

Over at Fox Sports 1, the network's latest announcement is merely that they plan to televise a series of graded stakes horse races starting in 2014 with "up to" ten telecasts per year. I'd love to see the statistics on how many horse races, other than the Triple Crown, have won a ratings battle on 'any' network within the past five years.

Then again, this comes on the heels of the information that for Week 1 of FS1, the ratings estimates showed that the new network averaged only about 3,000 more viewers in prime time than when it was Speed Network, while ESPN averaged more than 12 times the total FS1 prime time audience. FS1 also trailed ESPN2, along with NFL and MLB Networks. The "Fox Sports Live" recap show averaged 6,000 fewer viewers than the network's nightly average. I know it is "early", but it seems that some of my fellow sports media reporters seem to think there is some big competition going on between FS1 and ESPN.

Some local team fans didn't get the best treatment either, such as fans of the Chicago White Sox. Granted, the White Sox season has been a disappointment, but that shouldn't mean "don't care" coverage either for those fans still interested.

On Saturday (8/31), the team's radio station, WSCR The Score 670, decided to air the Northern Illinois vs. Iowa football game which began 3  1/2 hours before the scheduled first pitch of the White Sox at Boston broadcast. As can happen with college football, especially with a Big Ten team involved, the game ran longer than planned. The top of the first inning did not air on WSCR. In what seems typical these days, when the broadcast was joined in time for the bottom of the first, listeners were NOT told of what happened in the top of the first inning. So much for people who listen and keep score of the game. Keep in mind this is the leading sports radio station in Chicago, and one which has a studio host for pre-game, post-game, and even an update during its White Sox broadcasts, but they did not bother to recap what the audience missed.

Then, on Monday (9/2) the White Sox game from New York was rain delayed for more than 90 minutes. This time, on the TV side, Comcast SportsNet Chicago (owned with NBC) went to "other programming". After a pro basketball related show, and an update on the rain delay, viewers were shown a pro surfing competition which had aired on NBC Sports.

Let's try this again. CSN Chicago had a local baseball telecast delayed by rain. Yet, they supposedly did not have anything baseball related they could show? It is bad enough that an all sports network doesn't give the announcers the opportunity to conduct one or more interviews during the rain delay. (I'm confident that they could have found someone at Yankee Stadium to talk with.) It is even worse that they don't show baseball related content to baseball fans. But surfing?

This game did resume after the rain delay and was finished. Do they really think that viewers stayed around through a surfing competition to see it?

Put all of these incidents and announcements together. Convince me that these networks and stations care about the fans they are supposed to serve. What makes it worse, in the case of the TV networks, is that upstart networks such as NBC Sports Network and FS1 are expecting fans and "non-fans" to support them by inflating our monthly cable/satellite costs even more. We deserve a lot better than this.

Same for the advertisers, who once upon a time fully supported the costs for the networks to show us these events. Hopefully some of them will protest being charged for time when the audience they are trying to reach are being shown the door.

Meanwhile, a couple of other network announcements. Chris Mad Dog Russo will be appearing on MLB Network with his own show that will also run on MLB Radio Network on satellite.

NFL games will air in the UK via Absolute Radio on Sunday nights and for the post-season starting with the Green Bay at San Francisco broadcast this coming Sunday. This package will also include the two NFL games to be played in London. Airing at 9 PM London time, these will be "double header" games in the U.S. and not the Sunday Night Football games due to the time difference. Absolute Radio programs rock music.

NEW YORK: WFAN 660 has extended its contract to air the NHL New Jersey Devils games, making this upcoming season its 9th of doing so. Matt Loughlin and Sherry Ross return as the play-by-play team.

BOSTON: As expected, Jerry Remy will not return to the Red Sox telecasts for the remainder of the 2013 regular season on NESN. Remy is on leave following the unfortunate news that his son was arrested and charged with murder. NESN did publicly convey support for Remy, who was quoted as saying he "hopes to return" to the Red Sox broadcast booth for 2014.

CHICAGO: Former Bears defensive end Alex Brown has joined WSCR The Score 670 as an NFL analyst, replacing former Bears standout Dan Hampton in that role. Brown will appear on Sunday mornings leading into the NFL games along with Monday morning show and Friday afternoon show appearances throughout the coming regular season and post season.

At the same time, Bears' Center Roberto Garza will appear each Monday morning (or Tuesdays when the Bears play on Monday night) on country music station WUSN 99.5 to analyze the just played game.

Both WSCR and WUSN are part of the CBS Radio group, while sister station WBBM 780 continues to broadcast the Bears games and related coaches programming.

PORTLAND: The NBA Trailblazers are being moved to KPOJ Fox Sports Radio 620 starting with the coming season. This is a move from sister talk station KEX, and returns the Blazers to an all-sports station. Brian Wheeler and Antonio Harvey will remain as the play-by-play team.

TAMPA: WHFS 98.7 continues to struggle, especially with nights when they go up against the actual games without play-by-play. The station has decided to let "part-time" staff share the 7 PM time slot, and has bumped "Fabulous Sports Babe" Nanci Donnellan from that slot to weekends. When you consider that the Rays are not exactly a top attendance team despite their excellent season, it is hard to see where their potential audience actually would one from. One also has to wonder how part-timers will increase the night-time ratings.

ALBANY: For some reason, it actually took more than two weeks for WTMM 104.5 ESPN to dismiss hosts Mike Lindsley and Brian Cady. The pair had aired what proved to be a hoax interview with an impersonator of former Yankees outfielder Shane Spencer who claimed evidence of drug use among the Yankees. It wasn't discovered to be a hoax until the next day when the "real" Spencer found out about the quotes attributed to him and was forced to deny any involvement. Two weeks?

DES MOINES: Good to see local TV stations using their secondary stations to add to the sports mix! WOI channel 5.2 will air the Northern Iowa vs. Drake football game this Saturday (9/7) afternoon, with the station already announcing its plan to show at least one more Northern Iowa game this season and probably some basketball games as well. The station also plans to air some SEC "overflow" football games this season, since the SEC makes some available to out-of-area TV stations. Further up the dial, WHO channel 13.3 plans on airing some ACC football this season.

FONTANA CA: KCAA 1050, located in Southern California's Inland Empire area, has added the Brian Arrington "Coach B" Show as of this week, airing it at 8 AM each Sunday. Arrington is a local youth football coach. Why is this significant? Because this show, which started on Sunday (9/1) becomes the ONLY locally produced show on the NBC Sports station. Yikes.

BATON ROUGE: Just in time for football season, WNXX ESPN 104.5 is now being simulcast on nearby KYPY 104.9, licensed to Donaldson LA, which has dropped its music format.

1 comment:

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