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marc tressard 03-31-2004 05:35 AM

Why are ESPN Commentators Afraid of the Truth?
As is their wont, ESPN switched suddenly from the fine Martin - Pavel 1st set (at 4-4) to cover Williams versus Craybas in its incredbly meaningless excruciating entirety. Worse is that at the outset neither expert commentator would opine: "Look, I think this will be a mismatch or blow out." Sure, I understnd why they show Serena and I am hardly a basher of the WTA -- I relish competitive WTA matches greatly -- but this was just a waste of very limited coverage. Why would these two experts not just speak the truth? Instead: "This is a good test for Serena as Jill is a counter puncher." Yes and maybe if Jill was on fire it would have been 2 and 3! The reality is that Serena employs higher skilled hitting partners and I and others would sooner see her play them. Yes, a good test for Serena! The refused to break from the carnage even as Martin and Pavel went to a tiebreaker. I am not naive and know this is what we'll get all spring and summer, it's just that the commentators should tell it as it is.

larrhall 03-31-2004 05:43 AM

Network Ratings
In the network ratings game, given the ESPN vision of tennis and the tennis fan, this is what is. They have apparently gauged the level of the audience, what US tennis-watchers want to see. Ratings boom, apparently, when Agassi, Williams or Roddick play. Blake also to some extent; he filled Grandstand 2 at IW for a second-round match.

They are not going to tell us that they are showing mediocre matches because it would be an admission of the fact that ratings and profits are the dominant factors in deciding match coverage. They are not going to because they are marketing a product. If they did, most of the lukewarm tennis fans would turn off. Perhaps a few more hardcore fans would tune in, though most of those already do.

I would guess they lose at least half their audience showing a tight contest between Schalken and Robredo, for instance. Of the half they lose, they might gain 10% back through additional hardline fans tuning in.

david aames 03-31-2004 05:52 AM

Yeah? And do you think the ratings were BOOMING yesterday night when they showed a taped Roddick slaughtering a guy who play tennis like he would play golf?

It started at 1am + when it was supposed to start at 12.30.

I would pay to see what the ratings were.

Rabbit 03-31-2004 06:36 AM

I agree with marc. It appears that someone at ESPN has made a decision, and that decision is not working too well with the serious tennis fan, myself included. I don't mind watching the occassional Williams or Roddick match, but every time they walk on court is getting a little ridiculous. The real irony is that overexposing these players it inevitably going to hurt ratings and tennis rather than help. Who wants to watch any player decimate their opponent round after round? The joy of watching tennis is the competition. If you have no competition, you basically have a vehicle for commercials. I think the competition and how players react to it is why Davis Cup is so fun to watch. You get to see players who you've never seen before and because it's Davis Cup and because they're at home and because they can pick the surface, they negate most of the advantages their higher ranked opponents have. Just makes for more interesting viewing.

It seems that every time a match is played, the commentators try to invent some drama in it. They think this attracts viewers and keeps them interested. Unfortunately, it was nigh on to impossible to do this with the Williams match.

I just hope the Tennis Channel gets more coverage. They put the camera on the court and let it run regardless of who's playing. Consequently you get some very competitive matches on and get to see players with whom you are not familiar.

borisboris 03-31-2004 07:01 AM

The sad fact is that Americans love winners-not the occasional win at the Hamlet Cup or Newport but SLAMS and TM SERIES. How many fans set up Tivo-vcr for a Coria vs unknown French Qualifier? Or would they tune into Roddick-Hell this country actually watches American Idol??? PATHETIC The Coria match was a blast to watch-the Frenchman was playing huge and with some more tight match experiences on his racquet he'll be playing in the 2nd week for some time. The problem is that tennis doesn't have the exposure necessary to sell players outside of the US lower than 10 in the world. I have yet to see Nadal. I'm frustrated yet 10 minutes of tennis = better than 50 games of NBA or MLB for me.

pound cat 03-31-2004 07:20 AM

There's 4 hours of live ESPN coverage to-day, but it wouldn't surprise me if thay show Venus on time delay. Then they will have to show Kiefer/Coria, unless they choose to show some home-town juniors on court 6.

atatu 03-31-2004 07:26 AM

What's interesting to me is that foreign athletes like Nowitzki, Nash, Yao, Mau Ginobli, Matsui, etc. can generate ratings in team sports, but not in individual sports like tennis.

david aames 03-31-2004 07:26 AM


1 PM

borisboris 03-31-2004 07:30 AM

:D Elena = the hottest women in tennis....5'11" blonde blue eyed with tennis body...Now that's what we need to be aired more often...she just needs to regain her form from her peak @ the yr end Championships and US OPEN run yrs ago.

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