As anyone who follows me on Twitter has probably figured out over the past month, I have a real problem with CNN’s coverage of the missing Fight MH370. And my argument isn’t that the story doesn’t constitute news. It certainly does. In fact it probably has deserved to lead every national newscast for the past month, except for a few days after the horrific mudslides in Washington. Instead my problem is that CNN shills out hour after hour of MH370 coverage, at the expense of other very important news, for ratings. Which leads me to my second problem, that America is more fascinated with this than it is with other news items, such as Russia annexing a sovereign country or the America’s new medical insurance program, which in some way directly impacts just about every American.
And this coverage has undoubtedly paid off for CNN in terms of ratings and profit. Recently released ratings for the month of March show that CNN is ahead of competitor MSNBC for the first time since last summer. MSNBC, for their part, has tried to stay away from excessive plane coverage. This shows a general correlation that more plane coverage = higher ratings, less plane coverage = lower ratings. CNN’s weekday primetime coverage for March 2014 is up 35% in total viewers compared to March 2013. Between March 12 and March 14 Anderson Cooper’s “360″ beat Bill O’Reilly’s “Factor” on Fox News three consecutive nights.
And, so, it absolutely baffles me that so many people have watched CNN repeat the same news hour after hour every day. In fact, it seems much of the news is the same each day that passes. CNN’s coverage was fantastic in the first few days after the plane’s disappearance. However, CNN’s coverage quickly turned to filling time with conspiracy theories and other inane filler that doesn’t actually result in the reporting of any news, you know, what news reporters are supposed to do. The inane on CNN has ranged from countless “aviation experts”, some of whom have very questionable credentials, to a full-time reporter at a flight simulator in Mississauga (the only time Canada is ever mentioned on CNN, I might add), to model planes and the use of “breaking news” for the smallest of items.
I’ll start with the aviation experts. Some of these experts are in fact ex-pilots or flight engineers, or at least I’d hope they are. However, CNN’s go-to man on aviation expertise is Richard Quest. A CNN regular, Quest is only moonlighting as an expert on MH370, he has a day job as a CNN business analyst. One could question why Quest even still has a job at CNN, after he was found in Central Park with crystal meth in 2008. But I’ll simply stick to questioning why he is a plane analyst (er aviation expert), and the answer is I haven’t a clue.
Another aspect of CNN’s time-filling is their use of planes, big and small, real and fake. CNN has used the simulator in Mississauga quite often to show what it is like for a plane to ascend, descend or turn left at a rapid rate. Only problem is none of us viewers can actually tell what these movements feel like, so we have to rely on the CNN reporter inside the cockpit to describe them for us. Fascinating stuff. If a life-size simulator wasn’t enough, Don Lemon appealed to the inner-child in all of us when he showed the plane’s movements using a model plane a few weeks ago. This 80 second video is great because it pretty much sums up CNN’s speculation as well. And, unbelievably, it wasn’t Don Lemon’s worst on-air moment of the past month, but more on that later.
The craziest part of CNN’s coverage are the theories of what happened to the plane. Of course we really don’t know what happened and won’t until the black box is recovered, if it ever is. But that simple, newsworthy explanation would only take a minute to report. CNN needed something juicy that would last for days. And so, the conspiracy theories came in. The first of these was the immediate linking two Iranians with stolen passports (apparently a rather disturbingly often occurrence) to a supposed hijacking. When officials revealed the plane could be in any number of former Soviet Union countries, speculation began that the Iranians were going to use the plane for a later terrorist attack on Israel. Then investigators realized the Iranians were just normal passengers, so attention turned to the pilots, despite a complete lack of evidence that either had any motive. But no, CNN’s theories didn’t stop there at these surprisingly plausible explanations. CNN had to go a step further, quickly turning the “Zombie Plane Theory” (why not latch on to America’s most watched show, The Walking Dead?), while Lemon outdid himself questioning if the plane’s disappearance was supernatural or caused by a mini black hole.
But I think CNN’s coverage, and America’s consumption of it, shows a larger problem with society. In a reality show era of television, live 24/7 news has almost become just another form of reality TV. There are many examples before MH370. One of the defining examples was nightly primetime coverage of the Iraq War. CNN, along with Fox News and MSNBC, showed coverage of American bombings in Iraq. And the people loved it as all three cable news networks set ratings records. Fascinated viewers watched villages being bombed. Regardless of the fact that these bombings killed many innocent people, viewers didn’t care because they never actually saw this. It also deflected coverage away from talk about whether the war itself was just, ethical or any number of other things. Another example was the coverage of the search for the Boston Marathon bombers a year ago. Of course the difference was that search lasted 24 hours, not a month. And for the record, I thought it did make for fascinating television.
I think CNN could cover the plane story better by covering it less, and by focusing on other ignored aspects. For example cooperation, or a lack of, between the various Asian countries involved in the search could be investigated more. As could the poorly handled investigation by Malaysia or whether any Asian countries are considering better radar coverage. Or they could look into how outrageously easy it seems to board a plane with fake passports.
Actually I think CNN had one of the great, moving moments in news this year when it aired an interview with the previously mentioned Iranian passenger’s mother. Turns out she is living in Germany, receiving cancer treatments and awaiting refugee status. Her son wanted to visit her quickly in case her cancer became worse. He figured a stolen passport was his best chance to get from Iran to Germany. Due to his love for his mother, he was on the plane. And now she has to live with that. The interview is absolutely heartbreaking.
The other thing that is fascinating about CNN’s coverage is the flow of events. When it came to light the plane had taken a left turn after leaving Malaysia, which I consider the turning point in this whole event, CNN has constantly clung on to one small piece of news per day, before discarding it for something else when it is proven irrelevant. They started off with the “northern and southern arcs”, and how the plane could have been flown to some remote former Soviet airstrip unnoticed. Despite that logic tells us the plane probably flew south crashing into the Indian Ocean, CNN focused on the remote possibility that it was refueling somewhere in one of the “stans” for a potential future terror attack.
When officials revealed it had in fact headed south, CNN turned their focus to the pilot’s flight simulator. They made it sound odd that a pilot who loved flying would own a simulator. They came up with theories that maybe he had practiced flying a plane into the Indian Ocean, or maybe an airstrip on a small island in the Indian Ocean, and that this was (or had once been) recorded on his simulator. When these theories had finally run their course, and investigators announced there was a new “search area” off the coast of Australia, CNN moved their coverage to an entirely new continent.
And with this new search area came over a week of day-after-day coverage with breaking news, officials had found “their best lead yet.” Of course that isn’t saying much considering every lead in this story has turned out completely wrong. And so CNN took to showing grainy satellite images of objects in the ocean, and day after day these turned out to be ocean trash. And now with the news that Chinese and Australian officials have found the much-talked about, famous “pings” of the black box maybe they will finally find the wreckage and CNN can move on to reporting actual news about the crash, which I think we are all anxious to hear, and put behind them this embarrassing reality-show style coverage.
Here is this week’s MLB schedule for TSN and Sportsnet.
Monday April 7
1:00pm, Baltimore Orioles @ New York Yankees – Sportsnet
7:00pm, Texas Rangers @ Boston Red Sox – TSN2
Tuesday April 8
1:00pm, Baltimore Orioles @ New York Yankees – SN1
10:00pm, Detroit Tigers @ Los Angeles Dodgers – SN Pacific
Wednesday April 9
1:30pm, Cincinnati Reds @ St. Louis Cardinals – SN1
10:00pm, Detroit Tigers @ Los Angeles Dodgers – SN West/Pacific
Friday April 11
10:00pm, Oakland Athletics @ Seattle Mariners – SN Pacific
Saturday April 12
1:00pm, Boston Red Sox @ New York Yankees – Sportsnet
Since TSN has added a number of non-Sunday night MLB games to its schedule, and Sportsnet is a bit slow releasing its full schedule this season, I’ve decided to post a weekly MLB schedule on here. At least for the first few weeks of the season. I am not including Blue Jays games or broadcasts on U.S. channels such as WGN. It is also worth remembering that Fox is only showing games on a few Saturday nights this season. Saturday games every other week will air on Fox Sports 1 in the US. And since those FS1 games will co-exist with local broadcasts, early indication is Sportsnet will simulcast the local feed instead of showing the national broadcast, unfortunately.
Sunday March 30
8:00pm, Los Angeles Dodgers @ San Diego Padres – TSN2
Monday March 31
1:00pm, Chicago Cubs @ Pittsburgh Pirates – TSN2
3:00pm, Boston Red Sox @ Baltimore Orioles – TSN
4:00pm, St. Louis Cardinals @ Cincinnati Reds – TSN2
7:00pm, Colorado Rockies @ Miami Marlins – TSN2
10:00pm, Seattle Mariners @ Anaheim Angels – TSN2
Tuesday April 1
10:00pm, Seattle Mariners @ Anaheim Angels – SN Pacific
Wednesday April 2
10:00pm, Seattle Mariners @ Anaheim Angels – SN Pacific
Thursday April 3
10:00pm, Seattle Mariners @ Oakland Athletics – SN West/Pacific
Friday April 4
2:00pm, Milwaukee Brewers @ Boston Red Sox – Sportsnet
10:00pm, Seattle Mariners @ Oakland Athletics – SN Pacific
Saturday April 5
4:00pm, San Francisco Giants @ Los Angeles Dodgers – SN1
7:00pm, Texas Rangers @ Tampa Bay Rays – SN1
When the NHL announced a new divisional alignment last year, it promised more rivalry matchups in the playoffs. However, if the playoffs began tonight, the CBC’s marquee matchup would feature the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning. Hardly a matchup with any historical rivalry implications. And its likely these two will play in the first round considering the Habs are 15 points behind Boston for second, while the Lightning sit a fairly comfortable 7 points ahead of the four teams fighting for the wild card positions. Outside of the Canadiens, the CBC would have no Canadian team to hang its hopes on in the playoffs. The Jets, 9 points out in the Western Conference, and Senators, 8 points out in the East, have fallen out of contention due to a dismal month following the Olympic break. Ottawa has only won 3 of their 13 games since the Olympics, while Winnipeg has only won 4 of their 13. The Canucks are 6 points out and don’t look likely to challenge Phoenix, Minnesota and Dallas for wildcard spots. For their part the Maple Leafs are in free fall, going 3-7 in their last ten games. And like Winnipeg, Toronto has only won 4 games post-Olympic break.
This free fall of almost every Canadian team is terrible news for the CBC and TSN in the last year of their NHL contract. This is the last year TSN will broadcast NHL playoff games for at least 12 seasons, while for the CBC it is the last year they can collect ad revenue off of playoff broadcasts. Both could really use a few high rated series, but that looks unlikely. If things stay as they are now, the CBC will have to rely on only the Canadiens, where viewers will be split with French broadcaster RDS. TSN needs not one, but two, more Canadian teams to climb in the playoffs in order to broadcast a series featuring a Canadian team in the first round. Again, at this point that seems very unlikely. As a result, the cost of buying ads on both channels this spring will be cheaper than they were a year ago.
The only good news for the CBC is if the playoffs started today Detroit would face Boston, in what would surely be their second choice series. An Original Six series between two teams popular in Canada would at least provide satisfying ratings in the absence of Canadian teams. That would likely leave TSN to offer Columbus-Pittsburgh and Philadelphia-NY Rangers as their primary playoff series. In the west Colorado-Chicago and Los Angeles-Anaheim would probably offer the best ratings, but both series would likely struggle to crack a million viewers per game on CBC. Vancouver and Toronto would really add a boost to ratings, bringing in more than double the viewers of series between two American teams. At this point CBC and TSN executives can only hope they turn it around in the last ten games of the season.
It’s been awhile, so here is everything you may have missed.
Bell Media, after launching similar services for CTV and CP24, have finally launched their on-demand video streaming service, TSN GO. With it, you will be able to stream many a sporting event on your computer, tablet and smartphone for free. Is there a catch, you ask? Of course there is! This is one of the two evil empires who control a majority of everyday technology in Canada. For now, you must be a Bell or Rogers TV subscriber, and have a package that includes TSN and/or TSN2. Additional TV services (Shaw being the major snub here) are expected to be announced in the coming weeks, so Bell says.
TSN GO can be accessed via TSN.ca or downloading the app from the Android or Apple store. Notably yesterday and today, if you were looking to watch the NCAA March Madness play-in games, while previous years they streamed for free, you will now need to login to TSN GO to access.
I haven’t visited the site in question, but from what I can tell from the press release, BarDown.com seems to be TSN’s Canadian version of ESPN’s Grantland with a splash of Deadspin. Grantland was named after an old-timey American sportswriter. I have no idea what bar down means, and I don’t really care enough to Google it. From the press release:
“TSN is going BarDown, covering sports far beyond typical hard news, stats, and analysis. Launching today, BarDown.com brings Canadians fun, original, and buzz-worthy sports content with a pop culture twist. BarDown takes the hottest headlines, viral videos, GIFs, and more from the worlds of sports and pop culture and packages it all in one place – from the best of @Biznasty to where Drake and Jermain Defoe have dinner. Helmed by Managing Editor Dave Krikst, BarDown also features original video, news, and features from a team of talented young writers and sports fans.”
During the 10 days of the Sochi Paralympics, one in four Canadians tuned in according to the CBC. Over 8.8 millions Canadians watched some of the broadcast on either CBC, Sportnet or Accessible Media Inc. (AMI). Canadians were able to see more Paralympic action than ever before, with more than 90 hours of TV coverage and 250 hours available online.
SAD/NOT SAD: BEIN SPORTS AND SPEED
Sad: Speed disappeared from Rogers channel lineups at the beginning of March, pissing off a bunch of people. Bell informed their subscribers that Speed may or may not be disappearing in the very near future, potentially pissing off a bunch of people. Shaw haven’t said anything (yet) about removing the channel, keeping their motor sports fans happy (though they have other reasons to be pissed off: see TSN GO above). The chances of TSN or Sportsnet picking up the NASCAR rights that Speed held (Truck series, Sprint and Nationwide practice and qualifying) are slim. The chances of either network picking up any of the other motoring programming being shown? All but zero.
Not Sad: As previously posted on this blog,, beIN Sport is now available on Rogers and Bell for all your glorious Spanish and Italian soccer needs (among other things) after getting nothing for so long. According to Bell, the channel will be on free preview until April 22, when you’ll need to fork over a very steep $15 a month to keep it. From what I have read, the date and price is similar for Rogers customers.
The Formula 1 season began last weekend with the Australian Grand Prix and as usual, TSN has live coverage for all 19 races including practice and qualifying (yet still zero pre- or post-race programming. RIP Speed). Coverage is provided by the BBC with commentary from Ben Edwards and David Coulthard. RDS will also have live coverage for every race, including the Canadian Grand Prix from Montreal. Go here for the full broadcast schedule.
TSN says that Toronto FC’s first game of the season, and first with new members Jermain Defor, Michael Brady and Julio Cesar, had a 15% increase in ratings over their season opener last season. Just shy of 300,000 viewers tuned in to watch TFC defeat Seattle 2–1 in Seattle and more than 1.5 million viewers tuned in at some stage during the match. North American soccer having bigger ratings than the NHL — who woulda thunk it. The game was the third most-watched MLS game ever on TSN (which says something about the viewership of the MLS Cup) and the teams most-watched game since 2011. Everything is coming up MLSE…
…Or not. Despite having their best record in a long time, and an almost certain berth in the playoffs, the ratings for the Raptors haven’t really grown at all since the team got good. This past Friday in their game against Memphis on TSN, they got 189,000 sets of eyeballs watching, while Sunday’s game against the Suns only found the attention of 117,000 people — the second smallest sporting TV audience for the weekend. (Numbers courtesy of Chris Zelkovich)
LINKS TO MLS BROADCAST DETAILS AND SCHEDULES WE DIDN’T POST BEFORE THE SEASON STARTED
MLS ON TSN Kicks Off Extensive Coverage of Toronto FC’s Most Anticipated Season Yet
Every Game, All Season Long: MLS ON TSN Kicks Off its Complete Coverage of Vancouver Whitecaps FC
MLS and Impact: A Special in Anticipation of the 2014 Season Kick Off at RDS
A little late in posting this (that said, who really watches the (stupidly-named) first round anyway?), but here are all the details you need for the 2014 edition of March Madness on TSN, TSN2 and RDS.
TSN platforms deliver exclusive, live, and complete coverage of NCAA March Madness, the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship. TSN’s exclusive coverage showcases the numerous top Canadian players competing in NCAA March Madness, including Andrew Wiggins, Tyler Ennis, Melvin Ejim, Kevin Pangos, and more.
TSN platforms give Canadians access to every single game from the tournament, with all rounds available on TSN and TSN2 (see complete broadcast schedule below). New this year, TSN subscribers can live stream the network’s NCAA March Madness coverage on their smartphones, tablets, and computers at no additional charge through TSN GO.
TSN GO will deliver live coverage from all four First Round games as well bonus live streams from all four venues during the Second Round – giving subscribers live streaming access to every game in its entirety.
From March 20-21, TSN platforms combine to deliver every game from the Second Round for TSN subscribers:
TSN’s coverage begins at 4:30 p.m. ET on March 20 and at 12 noon ET on March 21
TSN2’s coverage begins at 11 a.m. ET on both days
TSN GO offers TSN subscribers bonus online coverage, with live streams of all four venues delivering all 32 Second Round games in their entirety. Coverage begins at 12 noon ET on both days.
From March 22 to April 5, fans can follow all the action from the Third Round to the Final Four on TSN, TSN2, and TSN GO. The madness culminates with the championship game on Monday, April 7 at 9 p.m. ET live on TSN and TSN GO.
French-language coverage of the tournament is available on RDS from the Second Round to the championship game.
New this year, Gurdeep Ahluwalia hosts TSN’s NCAA March Madness coverage from the TSN Studio alongside analysts Jack Armstrong, Sam Mitchell, and Leo Rautins. The original studio show features pre- and post-game analysis of the day’s action and live look-ins to various games.
Canada’s most-watched sports news and information show covers all angles of the tournament with daily features and reports from NCAA March Madness starting today. Reporters on location for the opening weekend of the tournament include Jermain Franklin in St. Louis to follow Andrew Wiggins of Vaughan, Ont., and Matthew Scianitti in Buffalo to follow Tyler Ennis of Brampton, Ont. As well, SPORTSCENTRE features breaking news, daily highlights, technical breakdowns, bracket updates, and more, all-tournament long.
TSN Original Features
TSN showcases some of the top Canadian players competing in NCAA March Madness with TSN Original features on:
Thornhill, Ont.’s Andrew Wiggins (Kansas), a projected top pick in this year’s NBA Draft
Toronto’s Melvin Ejim (Iowa State), who was just named the Big 12 Conference player of the year
Tyler Ennis (Syracuse), who hails from Brampton, Ont. and is considered the most clutch freshman in NCAA basketball
Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga) of Newmarket, Ont., who led the Bulldogs to another West Coast Conference title
These TSN Original features air throughout the tournament, and will also be available on demand on TSN.ca and TSN GO.
Live coverage of NCAA March Madness will be available throughout the tournament on TSN Radio stations across the country: TSN Radio 1050 in Toronto, TSN Radio 690 in Montreal, TSN Radio 1290 in Winnipeg, TSN Radio 1200 in Ottawa,TSN Radio 1260 in Edmonton, and TEAM 1040 in Vancouver. Fans can tune in for select live game action and expert analysis from the Second Round through to the championship game (please visit each station’s dedicated website for broadcast details). Read the rest of this entry »
TSN’s Bob McKenzie, proving that he is still the top insider in the game, reported Sunday evening that CBC talk-show host, and former Much VJ, George Stroumboulopoulos is expected to become the new host of Rogers’ Hockey Night in Canada this fall. McKenzie also reports that Don Cherry will continue to offer analysis in the Coach’s Corner, at least for two seasons. Ron MacLean will also still have a job, albeit it in a reduced role. It also looks like Sportsnet has passed on current NHL host Darren Millard, who was on-hand when Sportsnet announced the new contract in November.
Stroumboulopoulos is an interesting choice by Sportsnet, but his hiring does follow a pattern. Since acquiring the package in November, Sportsnet’s President of Hockey Scott Moore has consistently talked about telling the stories of players, at the expense of the analysis and business talk that dominates CBC and TSN’s national broadcasts. When Moore hired Gord Cutler as the Senior VP of Hockey a month ago, Cutler re-iterated Sportsnet’s plan of storytelling. MacLean has a history of taking a harsh stand on some NHL business issues, including officiating. So, it makes sense that Sportsnet does not want to give him the most air time. On the other hand, Stroumboulopoulos has spent most of his time hosting pop culture shows on Much and CBC. Telling the life story of the people he interviews is a big part of his show.
He is also an interesting choice because Sportsnet wants their broadcasts to appeal to all Canadians, including new immigrants. Moore has also often repeated this point over the past few months. Stroumboulopoulos is a second generation Canadian, with a Greek father from Egypt and Ukrainian mother. If he doesn’t appeal to first and second generation Canadians, then who will? Considering Canada’s aging population, getting new Canadians to buy into hockey, instead of soccer or basketball, will become more and more important over Sportsnet’s 12 year contract.
This is the first change of the face of Hockey Night in Canada since Ron MacLean replaced Dave Hodge following the infamous flip of the pen in 1987. I’m not a big fan of the choice of Stroumboulopoulos. I would have preferred a hockey guy such as Elliotte Friedman. Sportsnet will likely confirm the appointment later this week, so stay tuned for updates.
beIN Sport Now Available… Fans of La Liga and Serie A have went a season and a half without access to their favourite teams on Canadian TV. Now beIN Sport is finally available. It is on free preview on Bell and Rogers until April, when it will cost $15 a month. Coincidentally Bell and Rogers are also the two Canadian providers that have dropped, or will soon drop, Speed. However, Speed is still available on Shaw Direct, among other regional cable providers, for those who absolutely need their motorsports fix.