SBD/April 7, 2014/Media

Production For Final Four Teamcasts Praised, But Some Announcing Crews Not Effective

The production values on TNT and truTV for the NCAA men's Final Four teamcasts on Saturday night "matched the standard of the main broadcast on TBS, and the timing was generally sharp even though the local announcers were just paired together and with their directors and producers a few days ago," according to Rachel Cohen of the AP. Still to be seen is "whether the TV ratings prove there's an appetite for this approach pioneered by Turner Sports and CBS this year." As "promised, the camera angles, replays and graphics emphasized the relevant squad Saturday." The announcers "turned up the volume on big plays by their team, something network executives hoped would pump up viewers" (AP, 4/6). SI.com's Richard Deitsch noted the "pictures and graphics were high quality." The "homer scale of announcing ranged from fairly straight (Connecticut's broadcast) to over-the-top flag-waving (Kentucky)" (SI.com, 4/6). In N.Y., Richard Sandomir writes the teamcast concept "was new enough -- and probably not promoted effectively enough." Kentucky teamcast analyst Rex Chapman was "more a homer than even Turner and CBS expected." But he "played his role perfectly." The Florida and UConn teamcasts were "not nearly as effective." Even with the same production techniques, the announcers "were more critical to the success of the teamcasts than anything else." Those who "did not push into Chapman territory made the games less entertaining." Sandomir: "I hope there is more teamcasting to come." Maybe Fox will "use its cable channels to carry the local voices of the World Series teams." Still, no matter "which league pursues this, it will need to be certain that the homers are real homers, modern-day Harry Carays who are capable of stirring fans into a partisan frenzy and making casual viewers smile at the craziness of it all" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/7).

MISSING THE POINT? During halftime of Kentucky-Wisconsin, analyst Charles Barkley called out viewers for complaining about the Teamcast announcers on TNT and truTV. Barkley: "Some of you people are idiots. You are tweeting Kenny (Smith) and Reggie (Miller) complaining about the Teamcasts. They are supposed to be homers. Stop complaining!" Host Ernie Johnson added, “That is the point of the Teamcast.” Barkley: "Listen, you idiots, that is why we call it a home cast telecast." Johnson said to Barkley, “You probably could have chosen words that weren’t quite as harsh for the viewing public" ("Kentucky-Wisconsin," TBS, 4/5).

NO FRILLS: SPORTS ON EARTH's Aaron Gordon wrote the individual team feeds "underscored how much the regular broadcasters play to both sides." Neutrality is "all well and good but it also wastes a lot of time." Gordon: "Although I wasn't shocked by the homerisms, I was pleasantly surprised by its efficiency; it saved the commentators a lot of time so they could talk strategies." They ended up "focusing less on analyzing the referees and more on the game." By demanding commentators "hold to some element of neutrality, it naturally forces them to spend far too much time emphasizing their neutrality, explaining why they believe a referee's decision was correct or mistaken, something we really don't need them to do given that we can see the replay just as well as them." Gordon: "I have no doubt Steve Kerr and Greg Anthony know far more about basketball than I do, but I wouldn't know it based on the Final Four broadcasts because they were too busy telling me what constitutes a charge, one of the few things I actually know" (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 4/6).

NOT A FAN: In Tampa, Tom Jones writes, "I thought the whole idea of a TeamCast was unnecessary." It "seemed to be nothing more than a reaction to all those misguided fans out there who are under the belief that announcers secretly hate their team and purposely call the game in the other team's favor." By having teamcasts, "it seemed as if Turner game credence to the wrong perceptions of those goober fans out there" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 4/7).
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