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Behind the Broadcast: CBS fired up airball switching from Siena game

Saturday, March 28, 2009
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Now that my college hockey season is over, it’s time to tackle the big issues in sports on TV and radio.

And, boy, do I have issues with CBS Sports.

Thank goodness the NCAA men’s basketball tournament ­regional finals are on this weekend, because it prevents CBS from making any more boneheaded switching dec­isions.

I hope you had a chance to read Gazette reporter Justin Mason’s story Tuesday about how angry Siena basketball fans were over CBS switching out of Sunday’s NCAA second-round game against Louisville in the second half to catch some of the Southern Cal­ifornia-Michigan State game. At the time of the switch, the Saints were leading. When CBS came back to the game, the Saints were trailing. 68-63.

It wasn’t the first time CBS annoyed Siena fans, or, for that matter, the casual viewer like me.

Last Friday, the Siena-Ohio State game was on in the press room at the Times Union Center, where I was covering the ECAC Hockey tournament. After filing my Princeton-Cornell semifinal story, I joined some of my colleagues to watch the Siena game. During the Saints’ double-overtime victory over the Buckeyes, CBS switched to an overtime game between Wisconsin and Florida State. During a switch in the second overtime, I noticed that the scoreboard at the top of the screen had the Siena-Ohio State game tied at 68-68 with 1:40 left, but the clock wasn’t moving. When CBS went back to the Siena-Ohio State game, the score was 70-70, and there was less than 40 seconds left. Brutal.

“We understand, and we try to cater to home markets the best we can,” CBS Sports spokeswoman Jen Sabatelle said in the story. “But our research indicates people want to see as many conclusions as they can [early in the tournament].”

Just curious, but who is being surveyed? The same people who think the weather forecast is the most important part of the local newscast? I bet if CBS surveyed Siena fans, the research results would be quite different.

And Siena fans weren’t the only ones irate.

CBS should be more sensitive to the local teams. Fans like Siena’s want to see the entire game, from opening tip to the final buzzer. If they want to see other games, they can always watch the NCAA March Madness on demand on their laptop.

TODAY’S GAMES

The West Regional final, between Connecticut and Missouri, will on at 4:40 p.m., followed by the East Regional final, between Pittsburgh and Villanova, at 7:05. WRGB (Ch. 6) will televise them.

WOFX-AM (980) will have radio coverage from Westwood One.

NFL TV

The Super Bowl-champion Pittsburgh Steelers will open the NFL season Thursday, Sept. 10, against the Tennessee Titans, and the game will be televised by NBC, it was announced this week.

NBC’s first Sunday game will be three days later, when the Green Bay Packers host the Chicago Bears.

ESPN opens its Monday night schedule with a double-header Sept. 14. The first game features Terrell Owens and his new team, the Buffalo Bills, facing the New England Patriots. That will be followed by the San Diego Chargers at the Oakland Raiders.

Unfortunately, the NFL didn’t take away the Thanksgiving Day game from the 0-16 Detroit Lions. The Lions will host the Packers to lead off the triple-header on Fox. The Raiders will visit the Dallas Cowboys in the second game on CBS, and the NFL Network game features the New York Giants at Denver.

COLLEGE HOCKEY

The family of ESPN Networks has the NCAA hockey regionals covered this weekend.

After covering the East and West regionals on ESPNU, ESPNU HD, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD on Friday, ESPNU and ESPNU HD will have the East final tonight at 6:30, followed by the West final at 9 p.m.

Also today, ESPN2 will televise the Northeast Regional semifinals from Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, N.H. The first game is between North Dakota and New Hampshire at 2 p.m., followed by Boston University and Ohio State at 5:30.

ESPNU will televise the first semifinal from the Midwest Regional, between Cornell and Northeastern, at 4 p.m. from Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich. ESPN Classic carries the second semifinal, between Notre Dame and Bemidji State at 7:30.

On Sunday, ESPNU has the Northeast Regional final at 5:30 p.m., followed by the Midwest Regional final at 8.

PARTING SHOTS

The NCAA women’s basketball tournament continues this weekend on ESPN and ESPN2 with the regional semifinals. The regional finals will be on Monday and Tuesday. . . .

MLB Network’s first Thursday night baseball broadcast will be Milwaukee at San Francisco on April 9 at 7 p.m.

 
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