Analyzing NCAA March Madness on TSN

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.

21 thoughts on “Analyzing NCAA March Madness on TSN

  1. The ‘full game’ thing is brand new with the CBS/Turner contract in the US. Question would be is TSN even allowed to do the old ‘rapidly switch between’ all games thing. CBS can’t even do that anymore. They can’t switch to the Turner games, believe it or not. Haven’t seen enough of TSN to see what they’ve done. When I’ve watched it’s been 1 game on TSN and another on TSN2. Has TSN jumped around between 4 games very often?

    I agree if Rogers Sportsnet had it, most problems would be solved. Use Sportsnet One to do ‘court surfing’ and East/Ontario/West/Pacific to show each game. Hockey games would bump things too, but that happened in the days they had NCAA. Sportsnet did the ‘court surfing’ thing for the most part when they had the tournament.

    Think most complaints are from the fact we don’t have TNT/TruTV/TBS. When TSN or TSN2 is showing a CBS game even I roll my eyes a little. Ratings are never huge for NCAA in Canada so it’s not like this is a big money maker for TSN. Why show a game people can watch on CBS? Not going to lose that many eyeballs. Especially when you have 3 games no one in Canada can get. [Excluding NCAA on Demand App, whole other story]

    Myself on Thursday when TSN was showing a CBS game I would put it on CBS. Might as well.

    • Of course Sportsnet could push the hockey games over to Sportsnet Flames, Senators etc. Or they could just use One for the fourth game.

      TSN2 jumped around a bit last night when TSN was showing NHL.

  2. I actually prefer The Score’s “court surfing” style (mostly because I have gotten used to Tim Micallef doing it with the NBA).

    That being said I think TSN have done an amazing job so far. No problems with the crew at all (which has been a big sticking point for me with the sport I love most, Soccer), good choices of games etc… I don’t have TSN2 but don’t really care because if you really want to see those games there are other ways.

    • Exactly. Every game is legally streamed online anyway at CBS makes that fairly well known during their broadcasts.

      I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who likes TSN’s coverage. There has been some pretty strong hate on Twitter.

  3. People will complain how good tsn etc are doing some are never happpy even if tsn is doing a good job which they are.

  4. The court surfing style is one of those either you love it or hate it. It got confusing at times, but I liked being able to “switch” to competitive games. In that regards, The Score complemented CBS coverage very well in the past. East and West usually showed different games and the score would court surf. This new system is taking some getting used to for sure on both sides of the border. at least in the US, most fans get all four networks. My gripe with TSN’s coverage is that they don’t show a score bar across the top like they do on CBS. The era of “live look ins” and “cut aways” for fantastic finishes is gone in the US. personally, i thought that was part of what made March madness so great; here’s hoping that TSN/TSN2 can keep that tradition alive

    • I’ve found TSN’s coverage to be more like the old CBS coverage than any other network. They have switched out of uncompetitive games, shown bonus coverage etc. I always watched CBS in the past, so now that the option of wraparound coverage on CBS is gone, TSN has become the best option in my opinion. I’m not a huge fan of the CBS scoreboard across the top of the screen because I find it distracting. I think TSN could use the bottomline for updates every once in a while though.

  5. There is a reason everyone is complaining about TSN’s coverage, it’s because it sucks. If it didn’t, there wouldn’t be an uproar. You are 100% correct when you say you can’t please everyone, but the goal should be to please the majority if you want to make money. TSN is a joke, why am I watching a 20 pt blowout when another game is down to the last shot? Cybulski can’t even out a sentence together and then of course you have the NHL on Friday night. Also, as I write this, where is the TSN coverage all bloody day on Saturday?? I’m watching MLS soccer?? The point of March Madness is that it’s a big event, once a year. I think most people as I do have a problem with a station that tries to fit around an event like March Madness with other scheduling. The first 4 days of this tourny, you better devote 90% of your coverage to it, or quite simply you don’t deserve to have the privilege of broadcasting it.

    TSN is very quickly falling behind in the 20-35 male age group, no MMA coverage to speak of at all and Curling…….seriously??? Curling?? Sure, if you’re middle aged, white and live in Alberta. Guess what, that isn’t this country. Wake up and smell the coffee TSN, I can’t ever remember more atrocious coverage of a March Madness in the 20 years I’ve been watching.

    • Did you even read what I wrote? TSN can’t choose to dump a hockey game they have been committed to since August. As to the soccer, as much as March Madness is a once a year thing, the first MLS game between two Canadian teams is a once in a lifetime thing that Canadian soccer fans have been waiting for years. No matter which TSN put on TSN2 they would face the heat from a group of very passionate fans.

      Having said all of that, tomorrow’s Raptors game should have been moved over to TSN2 (assuming they are allowed to). So should have the NASCAR and CIS women’s hoops.

      We do agree that Cybulski is terrible. He is better than he has been in the past doing soccer, but he is still annoying to listen to.

      I know this is hard for people in some areas to understand, but curling is popular among all age groups in some areas, in many areas in fact. I happen to fall into the very demographic you are talking about and I don’t like MMA and I love curling. Ratings suggest people love curling, it gets 10x the ratings that The Score got for most of the NCAA Tourney last year and is the 4th most popular sport in Canada (after hockey, football and baseball).

      • I’m with you Josh. I’m not a curling diehard, but I’ll watch the Brier or Tournament of Hearts before I’ll watch March Madness or anything MMA.

        People need to stop projecting their own tastes and opinions onto the rest of the country.

  6. Wow… really love TSN. This extremely one sided blog almost makes me think you work for the network. You seem to be mad at anyone who questions what TSN is doing. Do you not think if the same game is on CBS then we would choose CBS…of course. They have a better studio team who knows what they are talking (other than Jack Armstrong….at least he coached in the US). TSN does nothing without NCAA basketball all year, unlike The Score.

    • No I don’t work for TSN. I am simply providing my point of view that I like the way TSN broadcasts entire games. I write equally about CBC, Sportsnet etc. I also criticize TSN when I see it necessary. Considering you have never commented before, I question if you have even read anything else on this blog. If I was so biased you certainly wouldn’t have come back for my views.

      I don’t really care if people watch on TSN or CBS. Obviously TSN disagrees with you though or they’d never show the same game as CBS. TSN gets almost the same ratings for Sunday Night Football as they do for Monday Night Football, so there is some history that people will watch a Canadian network over an American network when given the choice.

      I think TSN (well TSN2 at least) airs just as much college hoops as The Score does, if not more. I know I watched Big East games on TSN2 many Saturday afternoons this year.

      I’m not mad at anyone who questions what TSN does. I’m mad that no matter what you do Canadians will complain about it.

  7. Why am I watching Leo talk when other games are on? I’m missing half the games because tsn is duplicating CBS and not moving tsn 2 much. Chocolate milk got it. It’s brutal. Use the NCAA website and stream.

  8. I did read what you wrote, I don’t think you read what I wrote on the other hand. If TSN can’t dump previously scheduled programming, then don’t bid on something like March Madness. Easily 90% of the people I have heard from can’t believe how terrible March Madness coverage has been. In terms of popularity…..check your figures, there is a little event going on the Rogers Centre and the end of April, 50,000 plus fans. You can also check out just about any bar on a Saturday night that UFC has a pay per view on, a few more patrons than a rock throwing event. Yes, MMA is much more popular than curling and in fact there are probably more people in southern Ontario than all of Curling Country and that’s where the numbers and money come from.

    CIS Women’s basketball……..CIS Women’s basketball. Wooooooooooooow.

    • Yes I did read what you wrote. Why should TSN care how many people show up at a bar to watch MMA on PPV? TSN doesn’t get any money from it. TSN can’t air the PPV fights. I guarantee you there has never been a UFC on Sportsnet broadcast that has hit anywhere near 500, 000 viewers, which is just about as low as curling goes. I’m not saying there aren’t UFC fans, of course there are, I’m saying that UFC isn’t exactly a money-making venture when all of the fights are on PPV.

      Considering that curling is the 4th highest rated sport in this country (as far as TV viewing goes at least), your logic is flawed. You seem to completely be ignoring the fact that curling is a money-maker.

  9. up until the sweet sixteen i was o.k. with the coverage. In the beginning i didn’t like it. I agree if you’re going to pick up March Madness you need to devote to it 100% so to speak or be very dedicated. The score got into the Madness and made you get into the madness, they made me excited even before the tournament started. However after the first day i came to take their coverage as it was and i calmed down my intial reaction of just hating their coverage. as said up until the sweet sixteen i was fine, however we are down to 4 games and cbs is showing 1 and what is tsn doing showing the same damn game, at least for now they are. The score wouldn’t do that. the games are pretty much even no one is getting blown out, at least give us the opportunity to choose. Thankfully i’m sitting at my computer and can stream the game.

    Personally, I loved the scores coverage. It wasn’t just a bunch of guys thrown in to cover march madness, they embodied what this tournament is about, they got it, they know college basketball. TSN and their journalist/commentators sound very green and new and it’s hard to take they say seriously. I was glad to see jack and dan in, love dan. But in general TSN pays no attention to college bb, they have no idea about the game other than the big programs and the star players, if that. The scrore you got the impression they actually followed the games and watch CBB and know what’s going on. TSN is hockey and that’s it, that’s all they know, i get it, it’s canada. However, don’t pick up this tournament if you can’t devote 100% 3 weeks out of 52 to the tournament. I don’t mean it’s all march madness all day the other days, but it’s 4 days out of the 3 weeks, right? so it’s not even 3 full weeks. Again it wasn’t as horrible as i thought, but i dont’ like it and am very unwhelmed and disappointed. Now i admittedly have my own dislike for the newtork in general, that i was not looking forward to their coverage which probably fueled my intial dislike of their coverage, but it was o.k. i could deal with it, but the sweet 16 was done terribly so far(first games haven’t met half yet) so hopefully there is chance to save face here, and if that happens i would be o.k. out of a 10 i’d give them 6 or 7 for their coverage. It’s not a bad as i thought but i’m not feeling as much as when it was on the scrore.

    and the chocolate milk commerical makes me It’s annoying and i think i hate chocolate milk now.

    • I agree with this 100%. I am honestly shocked they aren’t showing BYU-Florida since it has the two bigger programs and isn’t otherwise available in Canada. I almost regret defending the way they covered the tournament last weekend now. Both late games will be on TSN or TSN2 though, so we will be covered there.

      The problem isn’t that the guys doing the tourney like hockey better than basketball, they all love basketball. The problem is they put 3 NBA guys and one guy who should still do sideline reporting, not studio hosting together. If they could have got Shulman to host the coverage with Armstrong and Hamilton, that would be great. Even Rod Black would be better than Cybulski (almost can’t believe I’m saying that). I think Armstrong and Rautins like college hoops, but considering their full time job is covering the Raptors and NBA, they probably don’t get to see as many games as they’d like to.

  10. TSN coverage is a joke. Games they are not showing tight going into final minutes and they don’t switch games???? Not all have TSN 2. Take the Score coverage any day.

    • The only thing I really had a problem with yesterday was when they didn’t show the UNLV game on the main net. They came on at 7 ET with a feature on Bennett and talked him up, only to show Arizona-Belmont, even after it was more or less decided at the half. At least they are directing people to CBS this year most of the time instead of showing the same games.

  11. Soooooo the final game? TSN2
    Women’s hockey blowout? TSN

    TSN shouldn’t be allowed to buy rights unless they fully commit to it.

    • Canucks game is on TSN at 10 ET, so that’s why the hoops is on TSN2.

      And who do you suggest restrict TSN from buying rights to events if they aren’t “fully committed”? The NCAA obviously thinks its a fine deal or they wouldn’t have done it. The CRTC? Come on, we don’t need gov’t intervention in things like this. Not to mention “fully committed” is subjective. I’d say showing it on TSN2 doesn’t mean they aren’t fully committed. Certainly TSN, and probably most in the industry, would.

      Besides its on CBS, its not like everyone doesn’t have access with basic cable.

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s