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.