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A good piece, but all of these points circle the main issue -- there needs to be better storytelling (in the case of baseball, dramatically better storytelling, soon).
First, it's the 1000 channel universe. There's no reason why major sports cannot show the same game on several channels at once, with different techniques. The main channel has the main play by play coverage of the game. The second channel is the game with studio analysts breaking it down as it happens. The third channel can be crowd noise or choose-your-radio-play-by-play or live mics on players and coaches with heavy use of infographics. NFL RedZone is wonderful. Now, what else can you do?
Second, reduce the need for play by play chatter. Only football is so complex that it needs minute by minute analysis (and so much of the analysis is wrong precisely because of the complexity of the game and the amount of deception built into it). Instead, pipe in more live sound. European rugby does this, with a mic (and helmet cam - wonderful!) on the referee. The best story is on the field, not in the booth. He who talks least talks best.
Third, enhance my knowledge of the game with graphics. These HD screens are more than wide enough to encompass stats that provide context, and the on-field graphics used in Aussie Rules and a little bit in the NFL are great for certain things.
Fourth -- more cameras in more places. Standard camera placements are relics of the age of massive wired cameras. To think big in this arena, think small.
Fifth, embrace all screens at once. I'm not one to watch TV with my laptop and phone in hand, but I'm a dinosaur. My adult sons do this as a matter of routine.
Anyone looking to innovate in sports should ask him/herself this question: If we were building live sports broadcasts now, from scratch, in this environment, how would we do it? How would it look and sound? When we stop trying to graft new technologies onto old systems and approach issues as if they were brand spanking new, that's when innovation occurs.
1 month, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://awfulannouncing.com/2014/whats-next-big-innovation-sports-broadcasting.html
You want to really see cheap production values? Spend a little time with Fox Sports Plus, a channel that some cable ops charge 9 bucks a month for. They do no original productions. Their soccer, rugby, and Aussie football games are provided by other nets, usually Fox siblings. At halftime, since they can't carry the local net's halftime show, they run lots of commercials, usually the same spot several times, and some promos. But the centerpiece is a looooooong reel of "highlights" from that sport, slammed randomly together with some cheesy production music behind it. The reels are pointless -- just shot after shot of mostly mediocre goals or other game events. And when the fill time is up, they simply cut away from it mid-highlight and mid-song.
Some of their CONCACAF Champions League away matches appeared to be be shot by a high school video club.
And I love FS+ precisely for its mix of rugby, Aussie rules, and soccer. Would it kill them to do a decent job of presenting it?
This is why I am unhappy about Fox getting back into MLS. NBC did such a good job with it after MLS registered its unhappiness with the dollar-98 production value Fox provided the first time around. God help us if they get their mitts on the BPL when NBC's contract is done.
6 months, 4 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://awfulannouncing.com/2014/21036.html
Two games on Thursday -- 7pm and 10 pm Eastern -- to hit all time zones with a prime game that night. Do the same thing on Monday nights.
I like mfaybik's idea of four windows beginning at Noon. Three games in each window normally. And do what NBCSN does with the Premier League -- show one game on the main channel and run the other two live on secondary channels. Give fans a choice of every game, so that more casual fans will be able to see their team every week.
9 months ago on Conversation @ http://awfulannouncing.com/2014/why-doesnt-the-nfl-stagger-sunday-games-like-march-madness.html
@chrisc74 @Kev29 If the BPL was being built from scratch today, there would not be relegation and promotion. Guaranteed. Too much money at stake.
1 year, 1 month ago on 5 Ways to Fix MLS on TV
@Clever Username And you oblige him with comments. Irony lives!
Nowhere in the article above does he say that these ideas will "turn fans of the US MNT into MLS TV fans." He makes it pretty clear that it's a hard slog up the mountain. And the straw man of your argument ignores the central point of his piece -- that in spite of a contract that should have given MLS more of what it wanted, ratings have fallen after years of slow but steady gains.
@Clever Username @GoAay96 Works for the NFL, MLB, BPL, NHL, and every other league on god's green earth. They don't move the time of The Big Bang Theory around from week to week. People like to know when things are going to be on, and hate to have to do the "hard work" of looking up listings.
Nighttime is the best time for these games in the US as the middle of the afternoon on weekends is when there's the most competition from all other sports, and the lowest available audience. People come back to the TV in prime time.
And Friday is a weekday. MLS games do occur on weeknights but are not generally televised nationally. No idea why that's true. The next MLS TV contract should provide for maximum coverage, not minimum.
MLS's best hope is, unfortunately, a conundrum.
Fox is the best possible home for MLS right now, given the wide open inventory on FS1, FS 2 and Fox Soccer Plus (which has, um, not a ton of soccer on it). It would not be hard for Fox to create a national Game of the Week on Friday nights, with substantial other games carried on FS+ (even if it's only the local home-team broadcast). One of the best things Fox did with BPL was to air every game, every week, with many on a delayed basis and repeated during the week. The wide open inventory on FS+ allows for this to happen.
Fox is the worst possible home for MLS. MLS walked away from Fox after its last contract not only because it got good offers elsewhere, but also because Fox's production values were at the high school AV club level on occasion. Fox, probably appropriately, saw only limited income from MLS and invested in production accordingly.
I completely agree that a consistent broadcast schedule is key. But MLS also needs to up the quality of its game. It's hard to get too excited about a league where the best American players leave and the imports are generally guys who have aged out of the top leagues.
Not sure I can see how MLS will ever achieve parity with the best Euro leagues, and I say that as a fan who has watched American soccer obsessively since Pele played in the NASL.
@hawksoxfan @CUbsfan Thank you for the clarification!
To be clear, I wasn't saying that ESPN was walking away from an easy opportunity by not taking the away qualifying matches. While I did not know about the high price for rights to those games, I assumed the very high cost of production in those markets made them unprofitable. And, yes, BeIN has put up stoopid money for rights in at least some of its other league purchases.
1 year, 3 months ago on Behind the scenes at USA-Mexico: The pinnacle of ESPN's soccer revolution
@stholeary I agree with the writer that the Mexico game represents progress. It was great to see it. And I don't think ESPN will sink back to where it had been -- ESPNFC shows that they're waking up, albeit slowly and very tentatively. But they are reflecting the change in society that has increased the audience for soccer. I just don't think, as the writer does, that ESPN will lead the charge. If anything, they will lead from the rear.
@cheesesteaks3 Agreed. He's awful. Just....awful.
@CUbsfan I believe ESPN has USMNT home games and BeIN has the away matches. I could be wrong about this, but that's where I've seen the games and remember when BeIN announced they had picked up the away matches. I wondered at the time why ESPN only took home games, but it took only a few seconds to realize they were taking the cheapest road possible.
Put another way -- does anyone think ESPN would have made as big a deal out of this game had it been in Mexico City, even if ESPN had had the rights?
This love letter to ESPN misses a few points.
1. ESPN chose not to purchase the rights to USMNT away qualifying matches. BeIN Sport picked them up late in the process. This is not commitment.
2. Fox Soccer's losses served as an adequate wake-up call for the sports TV industry. MLS walked away from FSC because of the channel's poor production values. Then it lost the Premier League and Serie A. Fox Soccer Report was straight out of high school TV production class until its recent upgrade to junior college-level. NBC and ESPN both had to see that upping their production game was a business necessity, and NBC's surge had to have been felt in Bristol.
3. For all of the hype about ESPN's quality, its production of Premier League games last year was of bargain-basement quality (and would have been this year, had they kept their weekly Saturday morning game). They scrapped the pre-game and halftime studio show in favor of showing Ian and Macca in whatever shed they'd been consigned to on press row for the game.
While it was great, impressive, and maybe even hopeful to see the resources ESPN dedicated to last night's game. it's clear they're cherry-picking. They won't do this for Euro 2016, or even come close.