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5 Reasons Why TBS Really Blew It on Game 6 of the ALCS PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Sunday, 19 October 2008 18:57


How Baseball Nation felt when they clicked on
TBS Saturday night, only to find the game was
not on due to technical difficulties.

Back in July of 2006, when MLB announced that they had reached an agreement with Turner Sports to have MLB broadcast nationally on TBS, most saw the move as a case of cable coming of age. After all, the NBA on TNT had become successful, showing that the broadcaster could offer top-tier coverage, and the nation had reached a tipping point with 91 million of 111 million television households having cable of satellite television. The time was ripe for MLB to make the jump to cable for nationally broadcasted games, including the playoffs.

Since then, TBS has been a benign aspect of MLB broadcasts. Nothing too flashy. No cases of the broadcast team injecting themselves into the story, such as Tim McCarver did during the NLCS with comments regarding Manny Ramirez. Yes, TBS, for the most part had been sound and solid in their coverage.

That all changed Saturday night.

By now, the nation is aware that Game 6 of the ALCS from Tropicana Field in Tampa/St. Petersburg didn’t get on the air until the entire first inning was nearly over (see TBS Experiences Technical Difficulties Getting ALCS Game 6 on the Air). As Megan Bondi, spokesperson for TBS released in a statement last night to the press, “Two circuit breakers in our Atlanta transmission operations tripped causing the master router and its backup – which are necessary to transmit any incoming feed outbound – to shut down. This impacted our live feed from being distributed to any of the other networks in the Turner portfolio and caused the delay in our coverage. Both our primary and backup routers were impacted by this problem.”

But, TBS exacerbated the embarrassing gaff in how they handled the matter. Here are 5 reasons why TBS really blew it when the lights didn’t come up on Game 6 of the ALCS:

1) Make a List and Check it Twice – This seems painfully obvious and made TBS look bush league. What in the name of Philo T.Farnsworth was TBS thinking by not testing the system well in advance? Why wasn’t there a well tested contingency for two circuit breakers going? This is a national television broadcaster, not Public Access. TBS, it doesn’t seem possible the gaff occurred.

2) Bloopers and The Steve Harvey Show?!? – Traffic went off the hook on The Biz of Baseball, mostly due to Google search hits such as “Who is broadcasting Game 6 of the ALCS?” The main reason had to be a case of the dumbfounded when Baseball Nation tuned into TBS only to find Dick Clark’s “Bloopers” and The Steve Harvey Show. The game had to have been switched to TNT, right? No, it didn’t. TBS should have had programming at least catered to baseball. Why not replay Inside MLB’s post game show after Game 5? Most fans had tuned off or gone to sleep by the time Game 5’s post-game show was on. But The Steve Harvey show? I couldn’t help but think of the scene in Broadcast News where Blair is running wildly through newsroom to get a tape into a technician’s hands just as the segment is starting. I had visions of a paniced technician at TBS grabbing the nearest tape within reach and shoving it in the player when they discovered Game 6 of the ALCS wasn’t going to get on the air.

3) The Ticker – The second that programming other than baseball was on the air within the ALCS timeslot, a ticker should have been running non-stop alerting viewers of the technical problem. Instead, it was several minutes before any type of ticker was run.

4) Run Game Highlights in the Ticker – Beyond saying “due to technical difficulties,” TBS should have run updates as to what was happening in the top and bottom of inning 1. Instead, fans scrambled to Gameday and ESPN radio to get updates on what was happening. Nothing much, mind you. Just Coco Crisp being picked off by move from the pitchers mount, Shields striking out Pedroia and Ortiz, and B.J. Upton homering to put the Rays up 1-0.

5) Running a Ticker on TNT – Lastly, Turner should have ran also ran ticker on TNT the second the technical glitch occurred. That would have allowed dazed fans flipping over to Turner’s “backup channel” know that, no, the game had not been canceled or moved or, who knows what, but rather, two circuit breakers were blown and all Hades was breaking loose in the TBS studios in Atlanta.

So, at 8pm ET, we’re running this article. Just in case, you know… two more breakers go.

Maury Brown

Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer.

Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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