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Network TV Coverage

Like all the other Blazers and Rockets fans who live outside the teams' two home areas, I did not get to see the first half of the game tonight.  The Bulls and Celtics went into triple-overtime, obliterating coverage of the first two periods of the Portland-Houston game.  Of course I was frustrated to the hilt but I'm not going to get overly upset about it here.  I do want to bring it up, though.

I understand completely why the networks and the league choose to keep airing the current game in these situations.  I'm a basketball fan.  Triple-overtime is important.  Even if it weren't you shouldn't abandon Boston and Chicago fans any more than you should abandon Portland and Houston fans.  The number of people outside of Portland and Houston who want to see the first half of Blazers-Rockets as opposed to a thriller in 3OT is small.  You serve the greater good there.

However like all cable network conglomerates nowadays, Turner Broadcasting has multiple stations.  On their primary alternate network they were showing "Monster-in-Law".  I wonder if the number of people who just had to see Jane Fonda and J-Lo in a four-year-old movie is greater than the number of viewers who would have tuned in to Houston-Portland? 


The love life of Charlotte is reduced to an endless string of disastrous blind dates, until she meets the perfect man, Kevin. Unfortunately, his merciless mother will do anything to destroy their relationship.

Sounds like mom plays some pretty good defense. But maybe she resorts to dirty tricks?  Perhaps the relationship refs should blow some whistles on her.  Or she may just be Artest-level crazy.  In any case I'm sure this was all more thrilling than seeing the actual Ron Artest go at it against Brandon Roy.  Or Yao Ming battle Joel Przybilla and Greg Oden.

The issue here is that the league basically sells its product to the networks and doesn't have enough bargaining power to make sure its games actually get shown.  ESPN has moved games to a secondary network in these cases in the past.  I'm not sure what their current policy is.  Obviously we know what Turner's is.  If this were the 80's or the Jordan Era the league could probably get a concession in the next round of TV agreements.  Fat chance with the hit it's taken in popularity over the last decade.

Since there's no way to force an issue like this there's little point it getting mad about it.  All you can do is be honest. 

Hey, Turner networks.  Hey, NBA.  You just caused me to miss half of the last game my team played this season...a team I followed religiously for 87 games before this.  This was a game I was looking forward to with all my heart and passion.  It was a playoff game...the most important game my team ended up playing this year.  You took a lot of it away. 

I know you're both businesses and businesses nowadays don't give much heed when the number of people affected by a problem is relatively small, but we're out here.  Thanks for not preparing for this eventuality and thus ignoring our needs.  If Turner and other networks can't see their way to providing an alternative network should this situation arise again, may I suggest that the league consider starting the second game 20 minutes later than currently planned so the two aren't bunched together so tightly?  That wouldn't entirely fix the situation in triple-overtime of course, but it would clear long games and single-overtimes.  When games finished on time the studio folks could always provide more pre-game coverage.  They do love to talk.

I'm not asking that you sacrifice one game for another.  I'm not claiming that most of the nation would tune to the alternate station and miss out on the ongoing game.  Heck I, myself, was interested in that Chicago-Boston game and might have flipped back and forth.  But I would have liked that choice.  And I don't see how having that choice disadvantages any of your least those that watch your NBA coverage.

--Dave (