Dozens of television viewers expressed confusion about Turner Sports’ Final Four “Teamcasts” — and CBS Sports president Sean McManus saw it coming a mile away.
Turner Sports debuted Final Four “Teamcasts” on Saturday, with TNT and TruTV airing coverage tailored specifically to the participating teams and TBS airing the main national broadcast. Despite several visual cues indicating that the telecasts were skewed toward one team, several viewers confused the Teamcasts with the regular national broadcast and were aghast at the explicit bias of the announcers.
In an interview with the Chicago Tribune earlier this week, CBS’ McManus outlined the potential problem: “We have to figure out a way to remind people that these are separate telecasts. I can see Twitter lighting up. ‘Why are they rooting for (that team)? For years, all those people who wrote that (the announcers) are rooting for a specific team, well, now they can say that legitimately.”
On-air personnel made numerous attempts to clear up the confusion. During the Kentucky/Wisconsin game, the Wisconsin Teamcast on TruTV directed viewers to the TBS broadcast, going as far as to show TBS announcers Jim Nantz, Greg Anthony and Steve Kerr sitting courtside. The Kentucky Teamcast on TNT — the source of much ire throughout the night — also directed viewers to the other telecasts. During the TBS halftime show, analyst Charles Barkley jokingly called viewers “idiots” for being confused: “They are supposed to be homers! Stop complaining!”
It should be pointed out that the viewers who actually understood the Teamcast concept seemed to have favorable reactions, though with some exceptions.
Contributing to the problem Saturday night was the fact the Final Four was airing on cable for the first time. Unaccustomed to watching the Final Four on TBS, it is not surprising that some viewers found themselves navigating to TNT — a network with as much name recognition as TBS, and one more identified with basketball. Indeed, most of the complaints about bias were for the TNT broadcasts.
As for why those viewers missed the several obvious cues that the telecast was tailored to a specific team, that is another story.
(McManus quotes from Chicago Tribune via Sports Business Daily)