And It’s Time for Everyone to Beat the Dead Horse Again

Yes it’s that time of year again. In the US they call it the NFL playoffs; here in Canada whiners who complain and nitpick about everything some people call it that time of year that CTV’s ruins my life and almost causes me to have a heart attack. As you may have guessed, I’m not one of those people.

Now don’t get me wrong, CTV’s coverage does have its flaws. When you are picking up your feed from a secondary source there are always going to be problems. Just watch RDS, who for the most part do a great job, for proof of that. Anyone who believes that those in the United Kingdom who are watching on Sky have it any better than us don’t know what they are talking about. For that matter, anyone who thinks that those in the US has it a lot better than us is just as confused.

So, let’s go through some common complaints with CTV’s coverage. One that pops up every year is that CTV’s HD quality is much worse than that of NBC, CBS and Fox. Now, I’m not exactly an expert on picture quality and I can only speak from my experience on Shaw Direct, but there is no way that CTV’s picture looks worse. In fact, I find that CTV and TSN look better than the NBC and Fox stations that I get.

Another common complaint is that CTV shows the same commercials over and over and it gets repetitive. I won’t argue with this because it is true, but if you are really that concerned about the ads I wonder how big of a football fan you are. Plus, anyone who has sat down and watched a US network for an afternoon knows that every single possible prescription drug that can treat something and cause 100 new problems will get multiple commercial spots. In fact, sometimes they will get back to back spots. The fact of the matter is that if you watch any network for 7 hours then commercials will be repeated. And like I said, commercials are just commercials. I mute them or check the score of another game. The only time I watch commercials is during the Super Bowl, where people who are forced to watch CTV’s coverage have a slightly legitimate complaint, which I will get into once we get closer to the Super Bowl.

One person on a Canadian television forum suggested that all sports events should air on TSN. Now this is quite ironic considering that the same people who have this complaint during the NFL playoffs complain that the Grey Cup should be on CTV, not TSN. Talk about contradicting yourself to fit you agenda. And just as people here complain that every sports event should be on a specialty network, droves of people in the US are complaining that tonight’s BCS Championship Game is on ESPN, not ABC. I have also advocated for more sports coverage on Canada’s OTA networks, not including golf and NFL.

I have also heard people complain about CTV (and TSN) cutting NBC’s halftime segment called the Tiny Football League. Trust me, if you knew what you were missing you would be thankful. TFL is probably the stupidest, most pointless segment on any sports broadcast. It would make you long for the Global blimp and a fake Canadian Tire billboard.

Now for one complaint that I understand. CTV’s comes back late from commercials. This has been a bit of an issue in the past, but I only noticed it three times in two and a half games this weekend. On the day that CTV misses a kickoff return for a TD, people will have great reason to complain. Until then, yes CTV shouldn’t be missing live action, but it happens with other broadcasters around the world too including US network affiliates.

These are just some of the complaints that a select few people complain about every year. Many of them are not valid, but some are. For example, those bumpers that CTV airs coming back from commercials have horrible music. If CTV really wanted people to watch those shows they would purchase the rights to use each show’s theme music, or go with no music at all. Like I said, you can only beat a dead horse so many times and I’ll bet a lot of money that I could go and watch an NFL on Fox broadcast and pick out many problems if I wanted to be picky.

Having said all of that, CTV isn’t without its problems. They shouldn’t be pre-empting local news for NFL Wildcard and Divisional playoff games. I think that only the Saturday 8:00pm ET and Sunday 1:00pm ET games should be on CTV. The other two games each weekend should air on TSN. With NFL Countdown at 11am, a college football game at noon, and Football Night in America at 4 and a great Seahawks-Saints game at 4:30, TSN could have had a great Saturday afternoon of football programming. TSN also didn’t air anything important between 4:30 and 8 on Sunday evening. They could have had Fox’s NFL pregame, followed by Packers-Eagles followed by NFL Primetime.

The Canadian networks also have their non-sports faults. The biggest is lack of Canadian programming. I don’t remember the last time that I watched a Canadian program on Global. CTV has produced about as much quality Canadian content as CBC in recent years, so I will give them credit for that. Another problem is lack of local news, but once again CTV does a better job than its competitors (except during the NFL playoffs).

I think that we should all just view that having the US stations here in Canada is a blessing. We are the only foreign country in the world that does. It isn’t our god-given right to have them and if the idea was only introduced today there is no way that we would ever get them. Can simsubs be annoying? Of course they can, but usually it is at no fault of the broadcaster. If people don’t want to put up with them then we could always remove the US nets from cable and satellite lineups. Personally I’m just happy I have ABC for college football and CBS for college basketball. Besides, anyone who really hates CTV HD can get out of it. If you live in Toronto, get an antenna and pick up the Buffalo stations. If you live anywhere else, get Shaw Direct.

Watching the Eagles lose this afternoon annoyed me. Watching the game on CTV (by choice for this article by the way) didn’t in the least. Hell, I would have been happy to miss that Vick interception or an Akers missed field goal. I’m kidding of course. But the point of this article (I highly doubt anybody made it this far) goes right back to what I said at the start, just enjoy the playoffs. If you really are a football fan, you will watch for the football, not the commercials or broadcast presentation. Unwatchable is one thing, small mistakes are bound to happen on any broadcast.

Check back tomorrow or Tuesday when I will take a look back at the US coverage of each game.


16 thoughts on “And It’s Time for Everyone to Beat the Dead Horse Again

  1. Good article, and I can’t argue with your thesis. But I’m sorry, missing live action because you have to run an 8ooth ad about Criminal Minds in just inexcusable. Letting that happen even one time is too many.

  2. I always assumed that CTV carried all of the playoff games (as opposed to shifting some games off to TSN) because the NFL demanded it in their contract. I don’t know this to be true, it’s just a guess.

    After all, Global used to carry the whole thing too, and why would the NFL have even bothered switching to CTV unless they were going to have language in the contract stipulating that CTV had to carry all of the playoffs on its over-the-air network?

    • I don’t know if the NFL really cares. The NFL switched to CTV because they will pay a lot more money, well they would’ve at the time at least. With Shaw backing Global now, all 3 big private networks have deep pockets.

      I’ve always assumed that CTV keeps all except the 1 divisional game that conflicts with the Golden Globes on the main net because they bring in the best ratings. They have a contractual obligation with the Golden Globes, so one game gets thrown on TSN every year.

      I actually remember that Global BC used to pre-empt one of the Saturday games (it was thrown onto the CH affiliate) so they could air local news.

      • I think they might care just a little bit because over-the-air carriage still means more viewers than cable (even if TSN does its best to convince people otherwise).

        It would make more sense in a lot of ways for CTV to put at least some of these games on TSN. You point out yourself that while the later game last night was on CTV, there wasn’t much happening on TSN. Overall, CTV/TSN would end up with more viewers combined if they had the local news (which does quite well) and other counter-programming on CTV and the football game on TSN than to have the game on CTV and CFL Plays of the Year (or whatever it was) on TSN.

        There’s just no good reason for CTV to have programmed it that way, and the only reason I can see is that they are obligated to by their contract.

  3. Funny thing is though, when I’m watching Sunday Night Football on NBC (Usually the NBC West feed out of Seattle) the number of times during the regular season that they failed to come back from commercial in a timely fashion was almost zero.

    Contrast that with CTV’s slapdash approach (Which I can’t get away from because I’m on Rogers cable, living in a condo so no OTA either) and is it any wonder that I’ve simply thrown up my hands about this issue? As to the repetitiveness of the ads, smaller audience, smaller ad budgets lead to the 25 promos for The Defenders in a 4 hour broadcast.

    The only saving grace between CTV now and Global then, is that the CTV broadcasts don’t neuter the 5.1DD sound of the original broadcast.

    So I got that charming lass in PHI during the GB/PHI game Sunday screaming in my left ear from behind me about “block him!” at what sounds like 120db for nearly the entire time the cameras were on the field, but that’s a FOX issue not CTV.

    • I’ve never noticed any problems on NBC either, although I tend to watch SNF on TSN because I like the SportsCentre updates of NHL games. I was referring to CBS and Fox stations coming back late, which I have noticed in the past especially during the regular season.

  4. Not true. There’s been at least one playoff game on TSN every year since CTV took over, usually so CTV won’t have to join the Golden Globes in progress. Next week it will be Jets-Patriots.

    As for the CTV broadcasts….yes, they have problems, but they’re usually overblown. I watched most of the Saturday games on CTV HD and the Sunday games on CBS/Fox. PQ was a wash, sound was slightly better on the US channels but not enough to drive me insane. (Though I do understand the complaints if you’re watching in SD, at least around here…to say CTV Atlantic’s SD picture quality is atrocious would be an understatement. You can’t even make out numbers on the jerseys.)

    They could use a few more advertisers, and understand that most people watching the game couldn’t care less about the braindead celeb gossip shows they keep pitching at us, but they’re still 10x better than Global.

    • I didn’t understand why they had all the Desperate Housewives ads, but then again this is the same company than ran a Pretty Little Liars ad every commercial break during the Spengler Cup, World Juniors and BCS games for the last 2 weeks.

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  6. I am a big NFL fan, CFL not so much. But even I scratch my head at the weird CTV/TSN deals as well.

    NFL playoffs and Super Bowl available all across the country on CTV. [NTV in Newfoundland airs it too] The Grey Cup which they try and sell as ‘Canada’s Game’ only on cable. Huh? You would think they would throw a bone of Grey Cup being on CTV. Although I’ve heard someone say the TV contract TSN has doesn’t allow that right now. They should fix that next time if that’s the case.

    • Hi Robert, the biggest reason that the Grey Cup is on TSN is because they can make money on it through subscriber fees. It is why more and more big sports events on both sides of the border are going to cable. The other reason is because CTV usually has American programming to air, so by airing that on CTV, the Grey Cup on TSN and Sunday Night Football on TSN2, they maximize ratings on all 3 channels.

      As unfortunate as it is that all of these big events (even the World Junior final) are on cable, that is just the way things are going. It is quite possible that we will see CTV, TSN and Sportsnet bid on the next round of NHL rights together so that CTV gets OTA rights and TSN and Sportsnet split cable rights (each getting a couple games per week). In that sceniero only the Stanley Cup Final and a few other playoff games would be available OTA. Otherwise the playoffs would be split up like TNT and ESPN split up the NBA playoffs.

  7. That said….what TSN did last night (blowing off the BCS trophy presentation so they could show Sportscentre 10 minutes earlier) was inexcusable.

    • Yep it was. If I wasn’t headed to bed, I would have been even more pissed. SportsCentre was actually scheduled for 1:00, so I’m half surprised they even stuck around for interviews. I kind of wish the game was on TSN2 now, they probably would have stuck around until 1:30.

  8. Where/Who can i complain to about there coverage of the super bowl/playoffs. do they even realize how bad it is? Whos is charge? whats his email..and for that matter..whats his home address…..CTV IS TERRIBLE

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