Procrastination Nation

Things that Robert is thinking about that keep him from accomplishing anything.

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Friday, March 28, 2003
CBS & NCAA Tourney
I'll take a moment now to vent about CBS's coverage of the tournament. I typically will not bitch about advertisements per se. They pay the freight, and I'm a cheap bastard who knows how to work his remote control. That said, last night's coverage typefied something that has pissed me off about their coverage for the past several years.

Scenario 1: The Kansas-Duke game goes to a commercial at about the 5-minute mark because of a time out. I forget now if it was the under-8:00 media time out or team time out. We get the commercials for that game, and when we come back we're switched to the Marquette-Pitt game, just in time for that game's media time out. When we come back to the KU-Duke, it's time for the under-4:00 media time out in that game.

Scenario 2: Both KU-Duke and Marquette-Pitt are under 1:00 to play. They cut from the KU-Duke game mid-action to the other game, we get the reset from Gumbel...just in time for another timeout. At least this time, they switched back to the KU-Duke game right away, but since it was in the middle of the action and Gumbel had been talking, about :30 ran off the clock and Duke had cut the KU lead to (I think) 4. We got another round of switches that caused us to watch more of the "Road to the Final Four logo and hear more of Greg Gumbel than any of either game.

Cutting away from one close game to see another is idiotic because it reduces the drama of each game. Fortunately, I didn't have a rooting interest in either game. I did have an interest in seeing the game that was forced on me by CBS to its conclusion. If something interesting happened in the other game, show me the last 1:00 or so immediately after the game. If CBS and the NCAA can embargo the video and scores, then it's live to me. And if the last 1:00 proves to be nothing but timeouts and missed foul shots, then there's no need to show it.

The worst thing about CBS's monopoly on the coverage of games is that its switching behavior often is less about showing you the game and more about maximizing the number of full media time outs per hour. In one half of basketball, if you can get the four media time outs for one game plus one or two from a concurrent game, then voila! Instant money. I'll try to time out an hour of coverage this weekend to see how it compares to regular shows. You have 21:00-22:00 per half-hour sitcom, so we're looking at 16-18 minutes of commercials per hour. We'll see how they compare.

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