CTV Cuts Out on Super Bowl Presentation

For the second time in two games CTV cut off an NFL postgame show just as former CFLer, and inspiration to the Ravens, O.J. Brigance appeared on the broadcast. It’s bad enough that CTV cut out on a guy who has ALS and is clearly one of the great stories of the Ravens’ Super Bowl run, but to make it worse they also missed the Lomardi Trophy presentation. That’s right. The trophy presentation of the most watched sports event in Canada was not on Canadian television. Instead for the second time in as many weeks CTV cut away from a trophy presentation to show regular primetime programming. And it neither case it was simulcast programming. There was really no rush for CTV to get to Anger Management or Motive.

Some will blame the CRTC for this, and honestly I don’t really want to start another simsub debate because they never go anywhere. So let’s take simsubbing completely out of this for a second because it really had no effect on CTV’s decision. Sure it resulted in some people missing the postgame show on CBS as well, but that wouldn’t be a problem if CTV had just stuck with the postgame show until the next commercial break. What happened is unacceptable for an official NFL broadcaster who spent 12 hours showing football programming on Sunday. Surely another five minutes wouldn’t have killed Motive’s ratings. I know the blackout messed everyone up (and almost certainly resulted in lower ratings for Motive and Elementary), but it’s not an excuse.

Ratings… The ratings for the Super Bowl show a continuing downward trend for NFL playoff ratings this year. An average of 6.447 million Canadian tuned in on CTV. For what its worth CTV’s press release said 6.6 million, that’s the number not including the power outage. An average of 763, 000 watched on RDS (also not including the power outage, presumably). An average of 5.5 million watched the Grey Cup on TSN last November. That was the most watched Grey Cup ever on English-language TV. The Super Bowl was well off CTV’s ratings for last year (7.3 million), but still more or less on par with 2011 (6.54 million). And, of course, perspective is important. Other than the Super Bowl, the Oscars was the only broadcast to hit 6.5 million in 2012.

In the post-Super Bowl battle, Motive averaged 1.229 million on CTV and Elementary averaged 548, 000 on Global. The delay likely affected both. That’s about a million lower than Elementary usually gets on Thursdays. I know Global missed the simulcast on Shaw Direct. Did this happen on other providers too, maybe?

Power Outage… The Superdome going dark was perhaps one of the strangest things ever to happen in a Super Bowl. And if the halftime didn’t kill all the momentum of the game, having another thirty minute delay certainly did. Of course the 49ers did bring excitement back into the game by closing the gap when the lights came back on, but the thirty minutes of unprepared mindless talk from CBS’s analysts was hard to get through. On the field Steve Tasker, usually an analyst thrown into Super Bowl sideline duty for CBS, was excellent considering the position he was in. He was the first back on air to inform viewers about what happened. He had real information while the studio painfully tried to fill time as “15 more minutes” became “15 more minutes”. I blame Craig Ferguson for the blackout.

Nantz and Simms… It’s actually pretty rare for a play-by-play to outperform an analyst, but I think it happened last night. Jim Nantz was the first to suggest that the Ravens take a safety because it could almost entirely run out the clock (I’ll proudly say I thought of it before Nantz said it). Simms disagreed. Apparently the 49ers were as shocked as Phil because the Ravens ran 8 seconds off the clock by running around in the endzone. The 49ers didn’t have enough time to run another offensive play after the safety.

But I think I need to rewind, because that wasn’t Simms only error. All he could offer up after the Ravens fake field goal was, “I’m not going to second guess the call.” What a second? Isn’t that his job? The Ravens had am opportunity  to go up three touchdowns and turned it down to let the kicker try to pick up nine yards; isn’t that a call that Simms should second guess? If the Ravens had lost by less than 3 points John Harbaugh probably would have second guessed it.

Later he offered up this gem, “Even if Kaepernick couldn’t run the football, he’d still be a top-five quarterback.” Now one could argue Kaepernick isn’t even a top-five quarterback when including his running ability (has Simms ever heard of Brady, the brothers Manning, Rodgers, Brees and y’know, that QB on the other sideline). I think its fair to say that based on his throwing ability alone, he probably isn’t even a top-ten QB in the NFL. Bill Cowher probably agrees. During the power outage he suggested putting Alex Smith in, which maybe was the only thing more confusing than Simms’ analysis.

But back to the final minutes. Maybe Simms was so terrible on the safety play because he was still reeling from the 49ers final offensive play minutes earlier. So was it holding or was it not, that was the question. And a really good one it was for Simms. At first he said it wasn’t, which is quite fine (I didn’t think it was either). But after seeing a few replays, he began to change his mind and offered, “The more angles I see, the more confused I get.” If anything the it is Simms job to clarify the viewers’ confusion? Simms should have offered a definitive opinion one way or the other. Or CBS should have had a rules expert to weigh in, as ESPN and FOX do.

My personal favourite Simms quote though, “I’ve heard it a thousand times this week, when the Ravens get inside the 20, they are going to try and score.” Well apparently it wasn’t true on the fake field goal (unless they preferred touchdowns). Three things I don’t particularly like. A commentator grossly overstating something for no reason. There’s no way he heard it a thousand times. And stating the obvious. And “try and score”. Unless they’re playing rugby and football, or something, that makes no sense. Maybe they were going to try to score.

I don’t mean to be overly harsh on Simms because he usually isn’t a terrible analyst. However, when I notice how bad someone was during the Super Bowl, when I’m so preoccupied with the game, the ads and the food, it means they were bad. I rarely bother writing about the broadcast because I rarely notice these things during the Super Bowl. I did this year. Partially because of the blackout and partly because of horrible Simms was.