17 Responses

  1. sarah
    sarah April 1, 2013 at 7:30 pm |

    I don’t understand what all this angst is about. As the advertising and licensing figures you cited demonstrated, the event that bumped tennis is more popular and brings in more revenue by orders of magnitude. Many more people want to watch the basketball game and the network reacted accordingly.

    Other than criticizing “Tennis” channel for not transitioning more smoothly I don’t know what else one can reasonably expect. CBS, responding to the wishes of their viewers and the market, will not change, and tennis choosing a smaller channel to partner with from start-to-finish does so at its own detriment.

  2. Matt Zemek
    Matt Zemek April 1, 2013 at 9:44 pm |

    Sarah (and any international tweeps reading this),

    The true outrage here is that this was very preventable, rooted in the fact that a final-set tiebreaker — not an Isner-Mahut-style final set (at a major) — was pre-empted.

    It’s not as though this match was going to go on forever. A final-set tiebreak is a five- to eight-minute event, generally.

    For some historical perspective, it’s worth noting that the Final Four is late this year. It would usually occur on this weekend, but the calendar moved it back a week, meaning that this was the first time in several years that the Miami final coincided with an Elite Eight game on a Sunday. (The Final Four is a Saturday-and-Monday event that poses no problems for the Miami final.)

    CBS had every opportunity to adjust not only the start time of the Miami final (which it did; I hadn’t realized this yesterday when I tweeted *erroneously* about the match NOT starting at 11:30 a.m. ET…), but the start time of the first Elite Eight game between Michigan and Florida.

    Here’s the thing to realize about the Elite Eight schedule on Sunday: The second game of the day, Duke-Louisville, was slated to start at 5:05 p.m. ET. Normally, a college basketball game shouldn’t need more than a two-and-a-half-hour window. (It needs more than two hours, but not more than 2:30.) If CBS wanted to set aside a 2:30 window before Duke-Louisville, the Michigan-Florida game didn’t need to begin until 2:35 p.m. This would have given the Miami final a full three-hour window, which is reasonable for a best-of-three match.

    The bottom line, then, is this: CBS was unable to push back Michigan-Florida 12 minutes (from the actual 2:23 tip-off time to 2:35) or a similarly reasonable 17 minutes, to 2:40, in order to make sure that it could fully televise the Miami final. Even with the 2:23 tip time for Michigan-Florida, the match – which ended at 2:23 – really should have been allowed to finish on CBS in the first place. Yet, the unwillingness of CBS to make some modest adjustments — adjustments that wouldn’t have led to the unwelcome alteration of its late-game schedule (Duke-Louisville needed to start just after 5pm ET so that 60 Minutes would start at a normal hour…) — shows just how unserious the network was about covering the Miami final in full.

    This raises the other point: If CBS felt it so important to NOT move Michigan-Florida from 2:23 to 2:35 or 2:40, it should give the TV rights for the Miami men’s final to ESPN.

    All of this was and is preventable; CBS did not have to sacrifice anything more than perhaps 30 seconds of Michigan-Florida as it was, but a few basic alterations could have prevented this situation from ever emerging in the first place.

    1. sarah
      sarah April 3, 2013 at 7:28 am |

      I didn’t go through all your details, but my point is very simple. CBS acts in their best interest and chose not to broadcast the conclusion of the match in favor of a much more popular sport. They had the option of delaying the start of the basketball game further and decided it was not in their financial interest to do so. The disparity between the numbers above is so great there are probably more people watching the pre-game of the basketball event than the tennis match, which explains why CBS was unwilling to delay the games any more.

      So long as the relative sport popularities remain like this, this is the way the networks will act.

  3. Greekster
    Greekster April 1, 2013 at 11:23 pm |

    Still complaining about blue clay, I see. Get over it. You do realize they figured out what was wrong with the surface and would have made the proper correction so that it would have been “EXACTLY” like the red clay in previous years. Funny how you don’t mention that. You just have a tennis racket up your butt when it come to Tiriac and apparently the colour blue. You’re free to have one placed there and to complain and to have your personal tastes, but lets stop acting that Tiriac is some anti-christ when it comes to Tennis. The guy obviously loves the game or he wouldnt have done what he has done with that tournament as a whole. And as far as the tradition of the game, that is laughable. I wasnt around when this sport or any other sport was first invented, but I am going to go out on a limb here and say that no sport today is what it was in the past or when it first started. Its called evolution, you might have heard of it. Its a GOOD thing that people like Tiriac are around. If it wasnt for them, the game would stand still and eventually die. Thats not to say that every idea they introduce will be a good one, but at least they arent standing still. Hell, look at some other sports where an owner came along and tried something new, that didnt go with the tradition of the sport, only to be called a maverick, but what ends up happening? They end up changing that sport forever. We need mavericks, we need guys like Tiriacs.

    As far as CBS is concerned, the contract stipulated an “allotted time”. Match went over and they tried to show it, but bigger dollars and more eyeballs on the NCAA tournament won out and that will always be the case. I didnt like what happened yesterday either, I personally believe, once you start something you finish it to its conclusion. Didnt happen. It sucked. I am sure it will be addressed. Maybe CBS keeps the tourney, maybe they dont. As a poster said above, the scheduling of this tourney in conjunction with the NCAA was a weird one this year with the NCAA tourney being later than usual. I do find it funny how selfish most fans are when it comes to their sports. They complain they cant watch tennis, but really it means they dont want to pay for tennis. They want to live stream every match for free and sit on their lazy butts and be twitter warriors online. How do you support tennis that way? Get off your butts and get to a tourney, put your dollars in and maybe just maybe, tennis can become huge to the point where it gets its proper respect. This tournament could have used some of you in the stands judging by its empty seats throughout the tourney.

    Dont be afraid of change and especially change that doesnt suit your personal taste (like something simple as the colour blue and I am guessing you have a problem with models as balls girls). Give it a chance at least, smart people usually do. I am sure back in the day when tennis used white balls instead of yellow and no chairs were used on changeovers where now they do, and where there was no hawkeye but now there is, the introduction of these ideas were seen as “crazy” and “frightened” the traditionalists. But, look, tennis fans survived and so did the game. And dont get me started on how I disagree with you on the implementation of the 25 second rule, but I am afraid that I have gone over my allotted space in this rant and expect The Changeover to cut me off at any….

  4. Jewell
    Jewell April 2, 2013 at 1:36 am |

    Perhaps CBS looked at Ferrer’s TB record and decided we did in fact already know the result before switching. When was the last time Ferru won a TB against higher-ranked oppostion? Murray on clay at the French Open last year? (and on clay I don’t count Murray as higher-ranked, even if he is.)

    From across the pond – college sports are weird. And seemingly so, SO corrupt.

  5. Karen
    Karen April 2, 2013 at 2:33 pm |

    I have been saying this for years and I am glad that finally everyone seems to be realising it, coverage of tennis in the US sucks big time. There is no respect paid to the sport. You can hardly find it on tv and when you do, only select matches of the Big Stars are shown.

    To Greek up top, not everyone can afford to go to a tennis tournament. For folks like me who reside outside areas where tournaments are held, it means saving up money to be able to travel, hotel, plus the cost of tickets. We make our contributions by subscribing to tennistv, or like in my case, I have a Dish Network subscription, I put in another satellite dish, just so that I could get the Tennis Channel. If that is not sacrifice, I don’t know what is. Do you know what that expenditure cost me, almost US$1,000.00. Each month it costs me US$150.00 to pay for my subscription and most of the time all I get are Davis Cup replays from way back when and Destination tennis.

    I now have a subscription to tennistv and I am now going to have to upgrade my internet at home just to be able to livestream from tennistv. That is putting money where my mouth is.

    I love when tennis is in Europe or Asia or even Australia because then I get to watch lots of matches, sometimes free, sometimes via subscription and even sometimes on Tennis Channel.

  6. May
    May April 3, 2013 at 2:23 am |

    Commercial media is often totally baffling for people who aren’t closely acquainted with behind-the-scenes stuff. I used to read a paper/listen to a talk show etc, and just feel like all journalists inhabit some alternate universe I’ve never been too. Then I found myself working in mainstream print journalism and everything became clear. It’s the economy, stupid!

    As you point out, every media outlet (in this case: CBS) pays the most attention to their main investments. But it goes even more deeply than that. The vast majority of newspapers, TV channels etc don’t consider their news/sports/entertainment coverage as something geared towards the satisfaction of the consumers but rather as a means to appeal to corporations. The marketing department is the real one in charge of the content. Yes, they need content to appeal to consumers, but just enough so they will stay with the channel. The consumers don’t have to actually love everything the station (or paper, or magazine, etc) does. And you are never going to know whom the channel is working to really satisfy and what complicated marketing motives are behind it. (Complicated to us simple people, for the marketing geniuses, they are very obvious). Which is why at least a quarter of all content produced by professional media all over the world seems totally unjustifiable or worse.

    Every media outlet is guided by two principals: 1. We want to appeal to the big money 2. We take care of our own. In my opinion, this is true everywhere: from the poetry pages of the New Yorker to the tennis coverage of CBS. (I could use references but this is not an academic paper and my comment is already quite lengthy, but everybody doing some googling can see my point)

    Anyway, what does all this say about tennis? As you say, it can’t wait for the interest in the game to grow. I do think people that don’t understand the system may think that having enough big stars – preferably American – will remedy that. It will not. Unless enough people take up the game themselves, it is just not going to figure up very largely with the marketing departments. Fans of specific players aren’t not enough because fans will take every bone you throw at them and will thank you for that (and grumble on Twitter, but will STILL turn to watch the next poorly-covered game) only if you establish a reliable, widely-available alternative will they stop. And that might – just might – make organizations like CBS rethink their performance. Or, alternatively, get the son of one of the big media moguls to play tennis professionally and be really good at it. Unfortunately, that is a pretty fail-proof solution, if not very feasible.

  7. Rachel
    Rachel April 8, 2013 at 9:31 pm |

    Re this part of your column:

    “The whole point of this column is to ask why tennis, in this case, the Miami event, would sell the rights to its most precious products to a broadcaster who doesn’t have tennis as a priority. To a broadcaster who didn’t care to show the final set tiebreaker between two elite players who were battling to win a Masters 1000 title.”

    I posed essentially the same question on the Sony Open facebook page (something to the effect of brokering a better broadcast contract in the future), just after the final concluded. Surprisingly, my comment was deleted shortly thereafter. Guess they don’t want to hear it.

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