Saturday, January 26, 2008

ESPN 101

We should probably just let this speak for itself.

Friday, January 25, 2008


Some people with nothing better to do on a work day drove to the Bristol, CT headquarters of ESPN to protest something they haven't heard.

The same people are demanding that Dana Jacobson, the host of ESPN2's First Take, be fired for something she didn't say on the air, and may not have said at all.

The leader of this bunch acknowledges he hasn't heard Jacobson's supposedly anti-Christian comment, but that he will forgive her - once she's lost her job.

And this alleged offense - Jacobson supposedly said "Fuck Jesus" - occurred at a roast celebrating "Mike & Mike's" 8th anniversary on the air. By definition a roast is, "a facetious tribute, as at a banquet, in which the honoree is alternately praised and insulted."

Ah yes, insulted.

Yet an insult of Notre Dame (Mike Golic's alma mater) at a social function where off-color humor is invited and expected is of no concern to these protesters. The protesters also flatly state that Jacobson would have been fired if she offended Jews, African-Americans or homosexuals. But of course there's no proof of that either.

The only substance that the "Christian Defense Coalition" has is a report, from the The Press of Atlantic City, saying Jacobson,
"made an absolute fool of herself, swilling vodka from a Belvedere bottle, mumbling along and cursing like a sailor as Mike & Mike rested their heads in their hands in embarrassment."
But Scott Cronick, an editor for The Press who wrote that story has also said,
"I did not hear her say 'F--- Jesus,' and neither did some other people I spoke to who were at the roast".
So let's get this straight.

A TV personality is suspended and her employer is still pressured to fire her for something she may not have said, and certainly didn't say on the air or even in her place of work. The same person who wrote about her behavior also denied ever hearing the supposed inflammatory remark. Yet that doesn't hold the same weight as a self appointed moral minority group's belief that the TV personality may have said something offensive to Christians?

Pass the bottle.



You have to wonder just how these things happen.

At almost any other point during yesterday's Golf Channel broadcast of the Buick Invitational, such a glitch would go almost unnoticed, and certainly wouldn't warrant comment.

It's live TV (even if it's golf). Things aren't always perfect.

But for the lone minute of yesterday's show that was under the microscope and subject to scrutiny by anyone with an opinion and access to a computer, Golf Channel blew it.

All they had to do was come on the air cleanly, and maybe this mess would begin to go away. Let everyone hear embattled anchor Kelly Tilghman apologize and the world can focus on other crimes against humanity.

But that was too much to ask.

As Tilghman spoke, the world heard nothing. Not because people weren't listening, but because there was nothing to hear.

Somehow, some way, something went wrong and wasn't corrected until Tilghman was halfway through her second sentence. It's tough to tell who was at fault by viewing the clip. It could have come from master control. It could have come from the site. Maybe the A-1 didn't track the right channels. Maybe the EVS playback screwed up.

If her on-camera was live, the glitch could have come from the booth, but surely that couldn't have been live. Nobody would have been that risky. We hope.

Take a look for yourself.

If the Cialis billboard ran from master control, the error could have come from any of the above mentioned places. If the billboard ran from the truck, it almost certainly came from the truck. We'll see if anyone comes forward with an explanation.

Regardless, it's as close to inexcusable as you can get.

Embarrassed yet again, Golf Channel responded by putting the full text of Tilghman's apology on their web site.

Meanwhile the critics had a field day, with some pointing out other Golf Channel audio mistakes such as these from last weekend's Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.

Tough times lately for audio, especially when everyone associated with golf was hoping no noose would be good noose.

(No, we're not apologizing for that!)

Happy Birthday Ernie Harwell

Happy 90th birthday wishes go out to Ernie Harwell, the Hall Of Fame voice of the Detroit Tigers and a hall of fame person to anyone and everyone he ever worked with.

Lovely piece.

Raise a glass to many, many more happy and healthy birthdays for Ernie.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Comcast's and Time Warner's holy war continues against NFL Network, but the football channel now has an ally with even higher power.

In fact, some would say Almighty.

NFL Net signed a distribution deal with Sky Angel, a self proclaimed "Christian-Centered" subscription service based in Naples, Fl. Founded in 1980, Sky Angel was originally delivered to homes via satellite, but is now changing to internet delivery to televisions via set top boxes. Sky Angel's IPTV service is currently taking pre-orders for an expected launch next month. The company will not say how many satellite subscribers it has or how many IPTV subscribers it expects.

One thing Sky Angel does not have is a wealth of sports programming. NFL Network joins a sports line up that consists of networks such as Tennis Channel and The Sportsman Channel.

Make that only consists of Tennis Channel and The Sportsman Channel.

Golf Channel? Nope. Versus? Sorry. None of the 5 ESPN networks are offered either. Then again, Dana Jacobson is clearly not Sky Angel material.

The World Wide Leader has plenty of company. Sky Angel's line-up does not include many "traditional" channels across the board.

How will NFL Network mesh with Sky Angel's other programming? CEO Rob Johnson says, “NFL Network fits in with our desire to provide America with more programming that the entire family can enjoy together.”

We're betting Johnson's entire family hasn't seen "NFL Cheerleading Playoffs" or the cheerleading documentary series "Making Of The Squad".

It has been widely reported that NFL Network charges secular cable companies and satellite providers 70 cents per customer, per month. Details of how much Sky Angel will pay per customer were not released.

Regardless, while their deal with Sky Angel may only amount to a few pennies from heaven, it's now clear that NFL Network is "On A Mission from God".

New Outlet Gets Set To Scratch A Niche

Because there's never enough work out there, we're very excited to bring you the news about Women's Sports TV. If you've had your fill of testosterone-fuelled tests of machismo or if your life wouldn't be complete without working a NWFA game (that's National Women's Football Association), maybe this, uh, network (?) is for you.

Conveniently headquartered on Madison Av- Hang on... Where? Oh. Based in Madison, Tennessee, WSTV plans to show all women's sports, all the time.

The lady footballers from the NWFA will have plenty of company too. The following shows are coming soon, according to the official WSTV web site:
WSTV takes requests too! Not only can you submit show ideas, but if you have great game footage on DVD and want to show the world, they'll air it! Presumably the footage must be of women playing something.

Who's to say this won't work? Who's to say WSTV can't fill a few holes in your schedule?

Who knows?

One thing though. We'd give them a better chance of success if they correct the typos on their web site and add an apostrophe to the "womens" in their logo.

Good luck girls!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Agony Of Defeat - But Not In Europe

Do you remember Vinko Bogataj, the Yugoslavian ski jumper whose 1970 crash adorned the Wide World Of Sports open as "the agony of defeat"? Of course you do, and nearly everyone you know does too. ABC took that unfortunate and unsightly moment and made it into something so much bigger than it actually was.

We Americans tend to do that: glorify the grotesque, the painful, the "agony of defeat" almost as much as we celebrate beauty, expressions of pure joy and victory.

Joe Theismann's broken leg? Barbaro's broken leg? Darryl Stingley? Mike Utley?

You get the point.

Everyday injuries during our games are first met with close-ups of an anguished face followed by numerous slow motion replays from every angle available. Maybe play an angle or two back at real speed. Back to slow-mo again. Out to another tight face shot.

That's the way we do it. And that's what our audience expects.

And who wouldn't want to give those guys everything they want?

Seriously though, coverage any other way would seem inadequate or incomplete, wouldn't it?

That's what makes Scott Macartney's crash in Kitzbuehel, Austria stand out. Macartney went down heavily last Saturday, on the last jump of the World Cup race. Unconscious upon impact, he slid down the remaining portion of the course followed by his helmet, while the crowd held its collective breath.

We know how we would have covered it.

Via Austria's ORF, here's how the world feed looked:

(Reuters reported that Macartney suffered no fractures, regained consciousness and began making jokes. He is expected to make a quick and full recovery.)

The Europeans showed no close-ups at all. In fact, the director often cut to wide shots. Replays were used sparingly and it seemed only for context not content.

We're not saying they're right and we're wrong. We're not saying we're right and they're wrong.

We're just saying our approaches to similar situations are very different.

Makes you think, doesn't it?

THIS Soccer May Actually Be The Next Big Thing

Maybe it's the result of a football hangover. Our football.

But we've just become aware of a show that could, repeat - COULD, help make that other football more popular here than a team of David Beckhams could ever hope to.

A freelancer emailed to to say:

It seems that something called Fox Soccer Channel, or FSC, carries nothing but soccer. Okay, I'm down with that. Don't know who watches the thing, but that's not the point.

According to their listings they show damn near every league in the world. There are always a bunch of Mexicans playing on this patch of dirt underneath the power lines near where I-610 crosses Route 59. The next time I drive by, I fully expect to see a FSC crew shooting the action.

Those guys better be union.

Anyway, each Monday this Fox Soccer Channel runs a game from the English Premier League. You know, the one with the Manchester Uniteds and such. But this game doesn't have any regular announcers. They get 2 guys to call the game, but they are fans - one for each team! And they say what they want and do what they want and scream and yell and tell each other to shut up and it's great! It actually makes me want to watch and see what will happen next. This could be what soccer needs to pick up fans all over the country.

Of course if soccer gets popular here we'd have to shoot more games and who wants to do that? Maybe Starbucks could be a sponsor and give the crew enough free coffee to stay awake during the games. But you gotta check this thing out!

I'm fixing to TiVo the show each Monday.

So with thanks to Awful Announcing, The Beautiful Game, and Footy Mania, here's an example:

Our thoughts: We've got a lot of these all-whatever channels. NFL, NBA, NHL, golf, 2 for college sports, etc. All of them rerun games. Over and over.

Maybe this could be an interesting idea for some of those re-airs. Or maybe this could put the SAP button to good use.

Of course, maybe the fannouncers would be too damn obnoxious to listen to. (I just copyrighted "fannouncer", so don't even think of using it without paying a licensing fee!)

Internet radio had channels with fans calling games off their TVs, but the leagues got all huffy about violations of the rules from those disclaimers we run every day. It would be entirely different if the leagues were doing it themselves, and reaping the publicity and profits as well.

Who knows? Soccer may catch on after all!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Survive The Lambeau Fields In Your Life

This may be the last post about the weather at the NFC Championship game.

It also may be the most important, especially if you have ever been under prepared when working shows in inclimate conditions.

(These are not paid endorsements. We're just passing on some products that our colleagues have found to be of great help in doing their jobs.)

SealSkinz is a family-owned California company that makes breathable waterproof gloves, sock and hats. Their Ultra Grip gloves allow for very fine finger movements on focus controls or cable connectors.

From their website:

In late 1993 after successful field trials, Danalco commenced the
manufacture of SealSkinz®, the first fully waterproof sock designed for the
recreational industry.

In 1997, after almost seven years in development, Danalco commenced the
manufacture of waterproof gloves -- a highly durable, flexible, watertight
yet comfortable glove to be used by anyone needing waterproof protection.

In January 2000, Danalco once again set the standard for waterproof
protection with the launch of its WaterBlocker socks -- which have a patented
in-cuff seal that helps keep feet dry even when they are submerged in water!

The latest SealSkinz® ChillBlocker® Socks and gloves in addition to being
completely waterproof are fleece-lined to provide comfort in climates reaching
30 degrees below zero.

NEOS Overshoe is based in Vermont and makes a wide variety of weatherproof footware that fits OVER your regular shoes.

According to their website:

In addition to providing 100% waterproof protection and unmatched slip
resistance options, the NEOS® Industrial line offers supreme comfort by allowing
your workers to wear their favorite footwear underneath their NEOS® overshoes.

Workers can now wear their own steel-toed work boots, sneakers, or even
custom prosthetics and still enjoy superior protection.

Many veteran freelancers swear by their products. And if they may cost more, try to remember the last time your hands or feet were under protected from cold temperatures or water. How much would you have paid for comfort then?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Snowless Show Still Secures Seriously Sensational Sum

Fox Sports Co-Chief Ed Goren's snow dance brought only negative temperatures to Green Bay. Regardless, the NFC Championship Game was a huge positive for Fox. Next up for Goren's tribe: yet another Boston - New York showdown.

Imagine what the ratings would have been if there had been snow last night in Green Bay.

Despite the lack of the white stuff, Fox's broadcast of the NFC Championship Game pulled a 26.3 rating and a 39 share last night. The average of 48.6 million viewers was the highest total for a non-Super Bowl broadcast since the 2004 series finale of "Friends."

During the 9:30 - 10:00 PM (EST) ratings period, Fox averaged a staggering 51.6 million viewers.

Both the game and the telecast were worthy of such numbers. The temperature at kick off was -1 degree and fell to -4 by the game's end, with windchill numbers another 20 degrees lower. You wouldn't know it judging by the camera work, though. Seasonal cold weather often makes a tactile task like running a camera difficult. Performing in Sunday's extreme conditions challenged not only each operator's skill, but their absolute will too: The will to remain standing motionless for four plus hours. Hell, just the will just to remain standing at all.

Try making fine adjustments with a focus knob when you can't feel your fingers. Try keeping a shot steady while shivering. It isn't easy and it isn't fun. Yet every aspect of the game was covered as if it were played in a dome, a testament to the crew -a crew who now have a few days to thaw before beginning their Super Bowl set up in Arizona, some 1,900 miles and almost as many degrees away.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Belichick Double Dips At AFC Championship

New England's genius head coach Brian Belichick, not satisfied with showing up the rest of the NFL, helps out the CBS crew as a utility moments after the Patriots defeated the San Diego Chargers 21- 12 in the AFC Championship Game.

Either that, or he was trying to avoid being strangled by a triax cable.


With all the media coverage on the Fox & CBS crews' battle with the elements at today's conference championship games, the gang setting up for next week's X-Games in Aspen are feeling left out in the cold.

Literally and figuratively.

The 0 degrees in Green Bay would seem downright balmy to the X-Games crew.

This is no joke. People are running cables in these conditions!

Some other visuals:

Somebody's going to have fun with this triax. If they can chisel it out.

During strike, maybe they'll just cut the ends off and keep the connectors.

Power cables and snow. We wouldn't normally put these two things together, but somehow it works here.

Following their purchase of NCP this week, hopfully NEP has enough money left to replace the cables that won't be removed until spring thaw.