There seem to be a lot of people complaining about TSN’s March Madness coverage so far. Personally, I haven’t noticed too many problems. First off, I love that TSN actually airs full games. This was the one spot where I strongly disliked The Score’s coverage. If I’m going to sit down and watch a basketball game, I want to watch it from start to finish. The only exception would be if the game becomes a blowout and a more competitive game is available. I also haven’t noticed any major problems with TSN’s studio presentation. James Cybulski can be a bit annoying at times, but he has better today. I also really like Jack Armstrong, Sherman Hamilton and Leo Rautins. These are the three best basketball analysts in Canada.
Okay, so now that we have the fact that I prefer full games to The Score’s courtsurfing style, let’s move on to some major issues. One thing a lot of people have complained about is TSN2’s role. I love being able to flip back and forth between TSN and TSN2 to see two different games. That is something else that The Score can’t do. If you don’t get TSN2, then that’s too bad for you. You have to pay to get more and those of us who do pay enjoy it. And let’s face it, TSN2 has been on the air for a while now. Every major cable and satellite provider carries it. If you are a fan of college hoops it is already a must have because it has ESPN games all season long, with 2 or even 3 on most weeks in January and February. Remember, not everyone gets The Score either. I didn’t when I had Rogers Cable.
Another issue a lot of people have had is TSN’s choice of games. Some people are complaining about TSN airing the same games as CBS. First, overlap has been minimal. Make no mistake, TSN airs programming to make money. Making money is the point of running a business. It is no different than Walmart, McDonalds or any other business. Is customer satisfaction important, of course. If you aren’t satisfied with TSN’s coverage, then simply don’t watch TSN. If TSN thinks more people will watch a Gonzaga-St. John’s game, even if it is on CBS, then they will show it. And why shouldn’t they? Gonzaga is loaded with Canadians and that is the best way to appeal to Canadians who don’t follow college basketball 11 months a year. Also, don’t think TSN is the only network in it to make money. Trust me when I say CBS and Turner are doing everything they can to make as much money as possible.
Now on to the NHL game TSN had scheduled tonight between the Canadiens and Rangers. First, it is key to remember that the Canadiens can bring in 10 times the ratings that college basketball can. Second, TSN drew up their NHL schedule in August. Canadian March Madness rights weren’t sold until February. Because of contractual obligations, there is no way TSN could get out of airing that game. If they tried to (which they would be stupid to do) they would probably get sued by the Canadiens, NHL and all of their advertisers. Also their contract with the NHL may be voided, and the NHL certainly would hold it against them in the future. All of that to air a basketball game with 10 times less the ratings. That obviously doesn’t make sense. I think that next year TSN will schedule NHL games around their March Madness coverage. For example, scheduling a bunch of games on Tuesday/Wednesday and none on Thursday/Friday. They already do this for things like the Brier and Scotties.
Also remember, as in any new broadcast, there will be growing pains. Is there anyway that TSN’s studio can compete with the likes of Greg Gumble, Ernie Johnson Jr., Charles Barkey, Greg Anthony and Kenny Smith over at CBS? No. But they could have taken the best non-CBS/Turner basketball commentators and still not be able to compete with those networks. I do like to hear how Canadians are doing on TSN’s studio show though. Has TSN’s coverage been perfect? Nope. For example this afternoon TSN and TSN2 (as well as CBS) were all airing the same game at one point. I suppose they were trying to fix what people complained about on Thursday, not being able to see the end of close games on TSN. Then the same people complained about TSN and TSN2 airing the same game. You just can’t win with some people.
When people complain, I just want you to remember a couple things:
1) TSN is a business, their goal is to make money
2) Some people like seeing full games
I’ve basically had people tell me I’m crazy because I like watching full games these past couple days. If there is one word I’d use to describe Canadian sports fans, it is honestly complainers. That isn’t meant to be a slight, but I’ve never seen any other country complain about their sports broadcasts the way we do. I think some people have spent more time complaining than watching the spectacular basketball the past couple days. Trust me when I say you will enjoy it a hell of a lot more if you just sit back and accept that you can’t control how the coverage works anyway. Let’s just enjoy the great basketball coverage. And with that, I’m off to watch Georgetown (hopefully) lose to Virginia Commonwealth on TSN2. A game I wouldn’t have been able to watch all when The Score had rights. Have a good weekend everyone.
One final thought, I’d prefer if Sportsnet had the coverage. They are the only network in Canada that could air almost every game.