Jan 04 2009
By David Scott
Boston Sports Media Watch
UPDATE: NESN has posted an “explanation” of its broadcast blunder as well as information on two scheduled re-broadcasts set for today at 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. (The 1 p.m. re-broadcast is oddly void of a regular game clock, using only a score graphic in the lower right-hand corner. This was not the case in the original broadcast, so it seems even in trying to correct their error, NESN fell short.)
The posting at its website states, “NESN experienced a transmission problem at the end of last night’s Boston College basketball game that originated with the feed we received from Fox Sports Net. We apologize to all of our college basketball fans and will look into this problem to ensure that it does not occur again.”
Shots has left a phone message for a FOX Sports Net’s Director of Corporate Communications to get the FSN side of the story, but as some readers have already pointed out, the NESN explanation falls short when you consider that Fox College Sports Atlantic was able to stay with the game in its entirety (Channel 262 on some Comcast line-ups, including Shots’). NESN also does nothing to explain why there was no scroll or alert given to viewers when the snafu occurred. Shots is still awaiting reply from NESN spokesman Gary Roy on the incident. An email was sent to Roy last night at 8 p.m.
A Boston College athletics department spokesman had no comment on the matter when reached by Shots via email.
If a college basketball upset of mammoth proportions unfolds in Chapel Hill with BC dumping No. 1 and undefeated North Carolina, but the Boston market is deprived of seeing the end of said game, does the game really happen at all?
NESN viewers were left to ponder that very question after a gargantuan glitch prohibited anyone watching Sunday night’s game on the regional network from seeing BC put the finishing touches on its biggest regular season win in many a moon. The game was part of the ACC Sunday night hoops package and did remain on-air, in its entirety on FOX College Sports Atlantic (Channel 262 on some Comcast systems).
The final minute-plus of the game – which was still very much in doubt and hovering near a one or two possession game – was completely missed by NESN and viewers were not brought back to the contest until the teams were exchanging handshakes.
An email from Shots to NESN spokesperson Gary Roy on Sunday night seeking clarification on the bungle was not immediately returned.
The broadcast was doomed from the start as it was slated to start at 5:30 p.m., but NESN joined the game later after using a Program Alert scroll to inform viewers to stay tuned for the BC-UNC contest. Although NESN didn’t miss much of the start of the game, the first four minutes of game action were delivered without audio from Ron Thulin and Dan Bonner (and with no explanation).
While that issue was resolved by the first media timeout, it did nothing to prevent the switch from end-of-game action at 7:40 p.m. to an extended roll of NESN commercials, most of them in-house, hockey promos – talk about Instigators! BC fans were outraged for sure.
NESN offered no scroll explanation at all, no apology and no mention whatsoever at the network’s all-fluff website of the infuriating, embarrassing and unforgivable screw-up. Then, to add insult to injury, good soldier Heidi Watney prefaced the BC highlights on Sunday night’s “SportsDesk Lights Out” by bragging about, “a game seen right here on NESN.” More accurately, Watney should have said, “a game not seen in its entirety right here on NESN.”
Boston viewers will remember a similar snafu during the MLB playoffs on TBS in October. While this BC boo-boo is no where near as impactful, it is a stark reminder of just how little BC matters in this market. The ACC and BC Athletic Director Gene DiFilippo need to demand an explanation from the Red Sox broadcast arm and there needs to be compensation made – perhaps in the form of a re-broadcast of the game on NESN.
Beyond that, NESN has to develop a better system for alerting viewers of technical issues they are experiencing. Before the NESN apologists can get their excuses/spin out for this one, let’s all remember that the game remained live and uninterrupted on another regional’s delivery of the game.
• The gaffe was immediately noted (of course) on the BSM message board and at Jessica Helsam’s Boston Herald blog, The Messenger delivers what sounds like a sad tale of hoops watching in the Heslam household. The Eagle in Atlanta also entertained some irate BC folks in its comments section. Expect more of the same on Monday as people talk about the upset around the water cooler.
Happy New Year, Joel Feld (and Sean McGrail). Way to get ’09 off to a rocking start at NESN.
David Scott writes from a seaside shanty on the shores of Hull, Mass. and can be reached at shotsATbostonsportsmediaDOTcom.