April 28, 2011

NESN, Intent On Cramming Extra Commercials In Between Innings, Misses Pitches Throughout Red Sox-Orioles Game

Red Sox fans watching last night's 6-2 win over the Orioles missed eight pitches and one play in the field because NESN was intent on showing as many commercials in between innings as it can get away with. Showing the baseball game was a secondary concern.

Several seasons ago, this was a huge problem for the network. Game after game, NESN would come back late from commercials four, five, six times. I remember one game in which the broadcast returned and Manny Ramirez was rounding second base, having hit the first pitch of the inning over the Wall. A mistake like this should be taken seriously, but it's clear NESN does not care. (Remember this bizarre stuff last September?) The network gambles that the first pitch of an inning will be taken by the batter or maybe fouled off, so "nothing happened" and it can get some extra advertising revenue. And if NESN misses something exciting, it can always show a replay. Besides, where else are you going to watch the Red Sox?

I was watching last night's game via the Extra Innings package and it was unclear whether the missed-pitch problem was NESN or Rogers Cable (I was getting Canadian commercials, not the ads NESN was showing, and Rogers is also no stranger to giving fans the finger, often running full-screen commercials between pitches or between batters).

I watched the beginning of each half-inning of the NESN broadcast archived at MLB.com. It was easy to tell when NESN was not on the air, because Don Orsillo was not saying anything. Why should he call the action if NESN was showing a commercial? Orsillo began speaking only after getting the signal from the production truck that the game could now be seen by NESN's viewers.

Here is what viewers missed:

Bottom of 1st - Ball 1 to Brian Roberts.

Top of 2nd - J.D. Drew's first-pitch fly ball to center field. NESN is back as Adam Jones is catching the fly ball.

Bottom of 2nd - Ball 1 to Matt Weiters. NESN returns as Jon Lester gets the sign for his second pitch.

Top of 3rd - Called strike to Marco Scutaro. NESN returns after Weiters has thrown the ball back to Brad Bergesen.

Bottom of 3rd - Called strike to Robert Andino. NESN is back as Jarrod Saltalamacchia throws the ball back to Lester. (This is the 5th consecutive half-inning NESN has missed a pitch.)

Top of 4th - No pitches missed!

Bottom of 4th - Ball 1 to Derrek Lee. NESN returns after Salty has thrown the ball back to Lester.

Top/Bottom of 5th - No pitches missed because NESN needed to inform us that a bank sponsors both halves of the fifth inning.

Top of 6th - No pitches missed, though Bergesen is releasing his first pitch to Dustin Pedroia as NESN returns.

Bottom of 6th - No pitches missed.

Top of 7th - Called strike to Carl Crawford and a lengthy shot of the Orioles dugout are missed, though NESN is back in time to show us Crawford's double.

Bottom of 7th - No pitches missed, though Lester is already in his windup for his first pitch.

Top of 8th - No pitches missed at the start of inning, but after a pitching change, NESN misses ball 1 to David Ortiz and comes back as Mike Gonzalez is about to throw pitch #2. (I missed ball 2 as well, though it looks like that may have been Rogers's fault.)

Bottom of 8th - No pitches missed.

Top/Bottom of 9th - No pitches missed.

There is something wrong when noting that NESN showed the entire inning seems out of the ordinary. (And even for the half-innings when the result of the first pitch was seen, NESN often cut in right as the pitcher was letting go of the ball, which I would argue is not actually showing the entire game.)

In its mission statement, NESN states that it is
intently focused on delivering Boston Red Sox ... programming and promotion of unparalleled breadth and quality. ... We are committed to understanding our customers' needs and exceeding their expectations. ... [We] strive to continually improve our performance.
It seems simple to me. If NESN is broadcasting a Red Sox game, it should show the entire game. And as a fan, I want the option of seeing the entire game.

If you agree, why not give NESN a call or send an email?
480 Arsenal Street, Building #1
Watertown, MA 02472
Phone: 617-536-9233
FAX: 617-536-7814
Email: sports@nesn.com
I believe viewer complaints were at least partially responsible for NESN telling Jerry Remy a few years ago to stop hyping his website and various money-making schemes during games and to putting a halt to the bizarre banter between Remy and Orsillo after every promo during a few games last September.


thatdietcokegirl said...

I emailed the fuckers.

I hope they listen because this stuff drives me insane too. I HATE it. I loved your other post too, about their dumb ad banter.

Oh and one more thing I'd like to see gone: Heidi Watney. Not her personally (although I don't like her phony ass) but because it detracts from the game completely and noone cares to be taken away from the action to see some dumb interview take up the whole screen that could easily be shown after the game just to keep someone in a job.


laura k said...

The return of Diet Coke! Cool!

I will also email. I share TDCG's feelings completely.

Cutting off pieces of the game in order to cram in yet more advertising is the ultimate fuck-you to the fans. NESN can't be bothered to show us the entire game - which is already super-saturated with advertising - because ad revenue is the first priority. They know we'll watch anyway, so they can do whatever they like.

Like TDCG, I'd also like to see those insipid in-game interviews and fluff pieces go, but all the sports broadcasters think they're necessary. As if we're tuning in to a BASEBALL GAME to watch something other than baseball.

Gregory Lynn said...

How do you like how they have turned the score box into mini commercials during the action?

First time I saw that, I thought of y'all.

laura k said...

Rasputin, I think they've been doing that for many years. The box scores have been "brought to you" by someone for ages, like "this call to the bullpen", etc. But maybe you mean something else.

Jere said...

What kills me is how someone must be in charge of getting back to the game in time, and SOMETIMES they do it right. (One time last night the end of a commercial was cut off just to make it back for the start of an inning.) So how is it that at other times, they get it so wrong, missing pitches?

At least once this week, the feed stayed on after an inning, so we just saw some close-up of the field for maybe 5 seconds. The point is, there seems to be a problem with getting to and from the game and whatever its reason, it shouldn't be happening at all, let alone more than half the time.

Jim said...

Thanks for taking the time to check out the recap, Allan. I was wondering if it was the fault of Rogers, too.
Re: the banter, the other night took the cake. I had the TV on mute cuz of the Orioles feed, but had audio from NESN via MLB-TV (I know, my obsession with avoiding shitty announcers costs me). Anyway, I flipped over the TV to the Canadiens/Bruins wind-down (while listening to the Sox). There was a stretch when Remy/Orsillo started talking about some photo-shopping nonsense. Didn't even mention the game for an entire at-bat until a 3-2 pitch to Drew, I swear. I was going nuts. Totally irresponsible. I know the game is on TV, but come on. Ya gotta say SOMETHING about what's going on.
I'm on the direct complaint train, too.

allan said...

On the nights when we get the NESN ads as well, they often cut a commercial off and go right to the pitcher in his windup. Obviously, they thought they could squeeze another ad in, but wouldn't they know by now what the time between innings is? I doubt it varies that much.

Also, if a company gets its commercial cut off 2/3 of the way through, do they pay NESN only 2/3 of the airing price? Does NESN give a rebate? Or do some companies advertise on the cheap and agree to be the one that doesn't get completely shown?

I must know.

Beantown Brew said...

I am giving you a HUGE fucking thumbs up on this man. HUGE. I've noticed this issue when the game comes back from a commercial and there is a man of first or second, or the score has even changed and I have no idea how it happened!

There's nothing I hate more than money hungry companies. It's bad enough everything in sports has to be named after a company (How long before Fenway is called Sam Adams Park at Fenway?). And what is with this "official brand of the Red Sox" thing. Dunkin Donuts is the "official coffee of the Red Sox" and Scotts is the "official fertilizer". Does anybody realize how dumb this all sounds?

Listen, I get it, these companies pay big bucks to be the official sponsor of whatever it is their selling, but where does it stop? When everything in Fenway has a sponsor? It's too much.

MacLeodCartoons said...

You know what I hate? The little promos at the bottom that feature moving film of whatever NESN personality is going to be on later; they are all awful, but the Jade McCarthy one is particularly horrible, and by far the worst is Gammo, who looks like he is literally being tortured. UGH!

laura k said...

For those who haven't seen this yet:

How much advertising is there during a Red Sox game? This much.

allan said...

MacLeod: I hate those too, though I don't get too worked up over them, relatively speaking, because they are quiet and do not disrupt the game. I can't remember if they have sound effects when they come in and out.

And they try to look so natural, yep, I'm just tossing a ball in the air, or adjusting my tie, or making subtle gestures at the text that is next to me and that you better be reading ...

Remember when NESN has a whoosh sound when a fastball was over 95 mph? And the place for pitch speed in the corner box would get a little flame in it? Thank god that bit of Fox-esque bullshit did not last very long.

9casey said...

I always thought the ump waited for a cue to start the inning.....

The wierd thing is when I watch the Red Sox- yankees series yes is always back before nesn and yes also waits longer to go to commmercial.. I would say Yes runs less promo add (the short ones) then NESN

allan said...

Also I assume I notice this more than the average person because I am scoring the game, and thus am acutely aware that they fucked up yet again. I get annoyed at not knowing if the strike I missed was called, swinging, or a foul.

Seriously, how hard can this be?

1. The Red Sox are playing a game.
2. NESN's job is to televise the game.
3. Televise the game.
4. Profit.

allan said...

9: I believe you're right. But that's likely a fixed amount of time (for example, two minutes) until play resumes. But a station broadcasting the game could still run ads for 2:15 or 2:30 and miss stuff.

Jim said...

The irony is that, unlike other pro sports, both the network and advertisers KNOW IN ADVANCE the minimum number of commercials they're going to get with baseball. Between inning breaks are timed. Fer chrissakes, they even add extra time for the so-called national telecasts (if you pay for cable, most everything is "national"). Every pitching change stoppage and extra-inning is gravy. Yet they still shoehorn the crap in.
Greed is the worst of the 7 deadlies.

Jere said...

re: the cue. If you go to a game you'll see the second base ump looking down at a stopwatch, then finally signal to the home plate ump, who then gives the signal to the pitcher. Maybe some umps are quicker to start the watch. Or maybe last night Wallace Matthews was the second base ump and was just counting in his head. 2,4,6....

Crosby Kenyon said...

This kind of thing happens with the radio broadcasts, too, but, obviously, is easier to get away with.