Sunday, May 10, 2015

NBA Playoff Broadcasting Needs A Serious Overhaul

Reggie and Kevin: WITH NO REGARD FOR HUMAN LIFE!!!
The three-network system just provides no continuity for the NBA Playoffs. I know that ESPN/ABC is very protective about "their guys" and TNT knows that the league is a serious moneymaker (plus Ernie/Kenny/Barkley and now even Shaq are really on a roll), but there's no continuity for somebody trying to watch the games and follow one team. Are they on Saturday or Tuesday? ESPN or TNT? 12:30 or 8:30? It's super ridiculous.

The Golden State Warriors had the best record in the regular season, going 67-15. They have not had the same broadcast team two times in a row. They've only had one stretch of two straight games on the same network. That's insane. Here's their list, thanks to the506.com:

Round One vs New Orleans:

Saturday, April 18 on ABC, 3:30 PM ET: Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson 
Monday, April 20 on TNT, 10:30: Kevin Harlan and Reggie Miller
Thursday, April 23 on TNT, 9:30: Brian Anderson and Steve Smith
Saturday, April 25 on ESPN, 8:00: Dave Pasch and Jon Barry

Round Two vs Memphis:

Sunday, May 3 on ABC, 3:30: Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson
Tuesday, May 5 on TNT, 10:30: Brian Anderson and Steve Smith
Saturday, May 9 on ABC, 8:00: Mike Tirico and Jon Barry

Jackson, Breen and Van Gundy: Mama, there's that game again
That's psychotic. What's worse is that these announcers literally have no time to study up during the most important time of the season, the time the audience triples. That the broadcasters aren't confusing Marc Gasol and Pau Gasol every time they touch the ball is incredible. Breen, Van Gundy and Jackson did game one of Golden State/New Orleans in Oakland then flew to Cleveland for game one of Cavs/Celtics the next day. How is that anybody's idea of a smart thing to do?

Here are the broadcasters who have had back-to-backs so far (remember, we're midway through round two).

Breen, Van Gundy and Jackson, 4/18 and 4/19, (in Oakland and Cleveland)

Kevin Harlan and Reggie Miller, 4/19 and 4/20 (LA Clippers and Oakland)

Brian Anderson and Steve Smith, 4/20 and 4/21 (Chicago and Houston)





If it feels like Harlan and Miller have been broadcasting every other game, you're not far off. FYI, I don't mind this because Harlan is awesome.

4/19: Spurs at Clippers
4/20: Pelicans at Warriors
4/22: Spurs at Clippers
4/26: Houston at Dallas
4/28: Spurs at Clippers
4/30: Clips at Spurs
5/2: Spurs at Clips
5/4: Clips at Rockets
5/6: Clips at Rockets

That's nine games in three weeks, three different series, and six different teams. Just one Warriors game? Just one Houston game? Who's genius scheduling was this?

Smith and Anderson. Solid.
Look, I understand that the networks want their own guys. But as a fan, I want to know that the announcing team I saw in game one will be back for game seven- and all the others in-between. Because I'm watching all those games and I want the broadcast team to have seen at least as much of the series as I have. Harlan and Miller did five of the seven-game Clips/Spurs series, but that's the most anybody's done of any series by far. Mostly it seems like a coin flip as to who does what game.

 Breen, Van Gundy and Jackson are ESPN/ABC's number one team. That's a fact. Here's their schedule so far:

4/18: Pelicans at Warriors
4/19: Celtics at Cavaliers
4/24: Clippers at Spurs
4/26: Clippers at Spurs
5/1: Hawks at Nets
5/3: Grizzlies at Warriors

Six games, five different series, nine different teams. With the exception of the two Clips/Spurs games that Harlan/Miller didn't do, a different place every time.

Anderson and Smith from TNT are decent but nobody's idea of a top squad. Here's their schedule:

4/20: Bucks at Bulls
4/21: Mavs at Rockets
4/23: Warriors at Pelicans
4/25: Bulls at Bucks
4/27: Bucks at Bulls
4/30: Bulls at Bucks
5/5: Grizzlies at Warriors

Fratello and Dedes. They're gamers.
Seven games, four different series, seven different teams. You could make an argument that they had a better and more consistent schedule than ESPN's number one squad by virtue of doing more of the Bucks/Bulls series.

Here's the point (and I know you've been waiting for it). Why not just have an agreement that it's the same broadcast team for an entire series, no matter the network? I know there might be a problem with graphics and sponsors and stuff like that, but as soon as I turn on the tube and see that the game that had Breen, Van Gundy and Jackson two days ago has Spero Dedes and Mike Fratello tonight, I know that I have chosen to watch the dog game of the night. Apologies to Dedes and Fratello, but even they know that they're on the dog game that night.

(Their schedule: 4/22, NBA TV, Nets at Hawks. 4/27, NBA TV, Hawks at Nets. 4/29, TNT, Nets at Hawks.)
 
The current set-up is terrible. This is a billion-dollar league with a worldwide reach and they're letting their broadcast partners dictate mass viewer confusion? What the hell? One game is on ABC or ESPN and the next three that day are on TNT? I know they have promos saying game four of this series is on TNT and game three of the other one is on ESPN and game five of another is on ABC, but let's be real, nobody pays attention to those. I am a stickler for knowing what game is on when and even I get lost. When I get lost trying to find the right channel, trust me that something is off.

Fix it. Fix it soon. It's just getting worse now that NBA TV is in the mix. I didn't even want to go there. Based on the ratings, nobody else does either. With the world going more and more to an internet-based viewing system, networks mean less and less every day. The NBA has been on top of most technology changes for the past 20 years (the Blazers were the first-ever team with a website, but that's mostly due to Paul Allen than anything else- I swear this is true but I can't find a reference point). The quicker the league realizes that broadcast team continuity is better than network continuity, the better off we'll all be.

Then there will be plenty of regard for human life. Remote down, man down. 

photos courtesy: houston.cbslocal.com, blogs.orlandosentinel.com, toovia.com, twitter.com/sperodedes