The Portland Trail Blazers will not send broadcast crews with the team to cover road games during the 2022-23 NBA season. The subject was first broached by long-time Portland sports media personality Dwight Jaynes on Twitter. Sources have informed Blazer’s Edge that Jaynes is correct. Television and radio broadcast members will remain at home, calling games remotely, while the team travels.
Jaynes, along with radio host Chad Doing, covered the decision here:
The Blazers have operated with stationary broadcast teams once before, during the COVID-19 pandemic. During that time, the team contracted with the corresponding home team in each game to use their television feed. The broadcast channels back to Portland, where announcers at the television and radio booths add their own commentary. The approach is expected to be the same this time.
The shortcomings in the system are clear. Portland’s broadcasters can only see what the television camera—and its directors—display. They miss seeing the entire court. They’re also at the mercy of the opposing franchise’s focus. The home teams tend to want to display their own players and events.
In a later tweet, Jaynes made clear that although the broadcasters will enjoy more time with their families, this was not a move they asked for.
Presumably, this measure cuts costs for the franchise. In the assessment of decision-makers, reduction in quality and connection is an acceptable casualty of dollars saved.
It’s risky, though. Broadcasts are the only connection 98% of fans have to the team. Fans fall in love with the players and action through the broadcasts. Impacting quality in this department impacts nearly everybody attached to the team who’s not on the actual floor.
It’s also part of a mind-numbing pattern of NBA franchises saving small percentages at the cost of potential, cutting-edge gains. Teams will pay multiple millions for players, coaches, and buildings, but balk at a couple for an entire broadcast, or online media department. Portland already lost the best social media manager in the business this year. Now they’re nerfing broadcasts, by all appearances making it harder for the talent they hired to do their jobs.
As the Blazers themselves keep reminding their fans during every 40-ish win season, there’s more to being an A-Level NBA franchise than wins and losses. It’d be nice if they’d follow through with those declarations by returning to the days when their broadcasts, and everything surrounding them, reigned as the envy of the league.
We’re a long way from that now. Apparently, even being average might be too much to ask.
Update: Sean Highkin has a response from Trail Blazers President of Business Operations Dewayne Hankins. You can read the entire story through the link. Here’s Hankins’ explanation for the reported moves:
“We haven’t made a permanent decision either way on traveling our broadcast teams,” Blazers president of business operations Dewayne Hankins said via email on Thursday evening. “We plan to incorporate all the lessons we’ve learned through doing remote broadcasts during COVID-19 over the last two years and see if we can’t be more efficient as we look to invest in other areas to improve our broadcast. If we decide not to travel and we think there’s a loss of quality for the fan or in our broadcast team’s ability to do their job, we’ll react accordingly.