Commentary

When 'Two Behind' In TV Sports Means 'Behind On Commercials'

Are sports on TV becoming more like a TV reality show? That's what at least one coach is suggesting.

TV critics complain that massive editing help give reality TV the "drama" it needs to draw in viewers. But business gets in the way as well. Cast members may need to talk up a makeup brand on "America's Next Top Model" or a new Burger King meal needing marketing help on "The Apprentice."

"Cast members" on sporting events might have to do their part as well when not enough of those 20 some-odd commercial breaks get into a telecast. Could ESPN have been asking the coaches during the Tennessee Titans 23-3 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on "Monday Night Football" to slow things up, call some late-game time-outs so the network could work in more commercials?

Titans coach Jeff Fisher seemed to suggest this was going on. He said in a TV interview that "it's the first time" he'd heard of coaches being asked to call timeouts.

ESPN and Disney executives said that was not the case. Fisher clarified in a radio interview, "What happens at [the] two-minute warning, the NFL gives you the status of TV, and with commercials they said 'we're two behind.'" He added: "ESPN never came to me and said to call a timeout." Okay, we get that. But why is ESPN even telling Fisher that "we're two behind"? What does that have to do with Fisher's running of his football game? Further explanation is needed.

Television is all about managing content, and sports leagues want to put on the most dramatic stuff available. Big rivalries, major media markets going head to head, and Brett Favre returning to play his old teams, Green Bay Packers, or the New York Jets, for example -- make for good stories.

But the league also needs to conduct advertising business. Do coaches need to be cognizant of his? If anything, the alleged ESPN action seems to breach those communications lines between business and content, in this case unscripted sports content.

A fumble, for sure, in the eyes of football fans. The league says it's looking into it.

3 comments about "When 'Two Behind' In TV Sports Means 'Behind On Commercials' ".
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  1. Aaron B. from AnimationInsider.net, October 22, 2010 at 12:15 p.m.

    "Looking into it," I'm sure.

    Unfortunate, but not surprising. Ever go to a televised football game for a mid-major? It's right in-between can't-miss and I'll-read-about-it-later sports entertainment... and is usually stocked with the most remarkably hidden TV timeouts available.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, October 22, 2010 at 2:34 p.m.

    And there's no such thing as sports betting or fixed odd either;)

  3. George McLam, October 22, 2010 at 6:03 p.m.

    TV has become so powerful, the medium has gone to the heads of those controlling it. Rather than having two teams play a game, and TV coming to "cover" it, TV producers/etc try to "control" the game to fit into their broadcast template.

    I've been at plenty of live sports events which were broadcast live on TV and watched as TV controls the game. I don't like it as a spectator or as a viewer. TV needs to let the event take place as if they weren't there, and just broadcast what happens. Shame on advertisers that support (or make happen) TV getting involved.

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