Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sure, I Could Write About Someone Else

But who would want to read that? Besides, Bill Simmons only writes about a column a week these days. (Probably because he just had a kid! Did you hear about that? He's trying to keep it a secret, but I guess the information leaked out somehow. Shucks! Seriously though, rest assured that if I ever get out of this basement and impregnate a woman, you readers will not be hearing about it. Unless she's much less ugly than I realistically anticipate her being.) So I've got to jump on anything he bothers to publish.

Overcrowding plagues NFL pregame shows

The same phenomenon is taking a real toll on Brett Favre's nuts these days. Hoo hoo! Pow! Larry B 1, Peter King 0.

I avoid the
pregame shows unless I'm searching for a specific nugget of information, usually a weather report or an injury update for fantasy/gambling purposes. Before the Internet took off in the late '90s, these shows had real value because die-hards lacked the resources to follow 30 teams at once and needed as much information as possible, even if it came in the form of uninformed opinions from the mouths of Brent Jones and Joe Montana.

I hope Bill realizes that he is a popular sportswriter for one reason and one reason only: people like to read his uniformed opinions. I have no idea why, but that's clearly the case. Oh, maybe a handful of readers drop in for his razor sharp wit. Others might rarely love his ability to make hilarious pop culture references at the drop of a hat. Paris Hilton and Heidi from The Hills, LOL! And a few real winners out there might look to him for fantastic gambling advice, evidenced by his under .500 record picking against the spread during the past two years. But by and large, nearly everyone who reads him is doing so because they enjoy the exact kind of uninformed opinions he's mocking here. So although those pregame show talking heads aren't really saying much of anything important, there's obviously a market for people peddling drivel to be successful in today's sports media.

Now? We have the resources. Thanks to the 24/7 sports cycle, we digest an inordinate amount of information and opinion heading into the morning of the games. What else is left to say?

Well, by your own admission, there are weather and injury tips to be had. And beyond that, isn't making sweeping generalizations fun! Bill has failed to understand that maybe not everyone is like him. (Reminds me of the column he published last spring in which he expressed an inability to understand why not everyone loves the Patriots.) Maybe some people out there are casual viewers who aren't going to obsess over the weekend's action for days in advance. This is like making fun of newspapers because "everyone I know uses the internet for news these days." Sure, newspapers aren't exactly flourishing. But they're not about to disappear or become irrelevant just because other ways to get news are becoming more popular. There are still plenty of people who fully utilize them, because that's what they're comfortable with.

Even if the pregame shows still rate well, I don't know anyone who feels fully satisfied by them, and I don't know anyone who goes out of the way to watch them. We turn them on because it seems like the right thing to do.

Anecdotal. Bullshit.

I don't personally know anyone who likes "House," "Two and a Half Men" (or as one of my friends calls it, "Two Guys and a Fat Kid"), or "Dancing With the Stars," but I'm a big boy who understands the whole world doesn't think the exact same way I do about things. So I'm therefore willing to trust from the ratings that there are plenty of people who are very tickled by those programs. My personal opinion may be that they suck, but I'm not going to express it as "Because neither me nor my friends like them, I'm forced to conclude that the only reason people watch them is because nothing better is on and they've been fooled by the shows' promotional tactics. No one out there actually enjoys these shows. I'm 100% certain of it. The ratings are a lie, and all my opinions are fact. The moon landing never happened. Tupac is alive and partying on a Caribbean island with Robert Kennedy as we speak. And David Ortiz is objectively clutchier than any other athlete, ever."

There's a reason nobody would ever think to release the shows on DVD after the season.

It's the same reason no one would ever think to release "Sportscenter," "Access Hollywood," or any regular op-ed show from CNN or MSNBC on DVD. No one wants to watch a news/analysis show that deals with current events months or years after those events happen. But that's a nice straw man. Is that a straw man? I'm pretty sure that counts. It's like saying "Well, there isn't a single MLB team that would sign David Beckham to a contract, so he's not a good athlete."

Of course, if you're watching with friends, the same two comments will always be made.

"Why are they all laughing when nobody made a joke?"

"Why are there so many people?"

Those are the exact same two questions I always ask myself when I read through one of Simmons's chat sessions. Or when I'm changing channels and I stumble onto an old episode of "Friends."

As it turns out, the questions are related: They're laughing because there are too many people and it's the only reasonable way for everyone to communicate at once. Remember when Floyd Mayweather Jr. was showing us his car collection on "24/7," and he pointed out his Maybach, and then he pointed to another car ... and it was another Maybach? That's what happened to these pregame shows. Every network exec thinks like Floyd: They have too much money, there's too much money at stake and they desperately want to impress us, only they're not exactly sure how to do it. So instead of sticking with one Maybach, they buy two to be safe.

That's one of the stretchiest stretches for a pop culture reference I've ever read. Isn't there a Karate Kid moment that better fits the situation? What about "The Hills?" No? Maybe Mayweather wanted two different colors of Maybach. I doubt he was trying to impress the public. Maybe his opponents, or women... but not us. I hope not. Because I am unimpressed. I'm not even sure what a damn Maybach looks like.

That leads to ...

Bill Cowher is coming to CBS!

Tiki Barber is coming to NBC!

Emmitt Smith is coming to ESPN!

Barry Switzer is coming to Fox!

Cowher is very good on camera, despite constantly looking like he just got hit in the face, so his hiring is ok with me. Barber seems like a total snake-in-the-grass asshole, and he really likes throwing ex-teammates under the bus, but he's also good on camera. Smith has little to no grasp on the English language, but he provides some comic relief. And Switzer is definitely good on camera as well. So what's the problem here? You'll see what Bill's getting at in a minute. Hint: everything was better back in the late 80s/early 90s, because he was young then.

When you add a fifth person to a four-man studio show, and you're not getting rid of any of the other four people, by my calculations, that's too many people.

When you're a national sportswriter who constantly writes about Boston teams, and you don't provide any balance by occasionally writing about some other team, by my calculations, that's fucking annoying.

Think of it as the power of four. Unless you're putting together a poker night or a group to play pickup hoops, in nearly every other conceivable scenario, you're better off with four people than five or more. Dinner always works better. Vegas works better. Cabs work better. Sporting events work better. Road trips work better. Rock bands work better. The most successful sitcom ever ("Seinfeld") centered around four friends, and the most popular female comedy series ("Sex and the City") did the same.

None of those things have anything in common with a pregame show. And I would disagree about road trips, sitcoms, and sporting events anyways. The more people the merrier.

Local newscasts and morning shows work better. If you keep the number at four, you'll always have enough people to make it interesting and everybody has a chance to shine.

Anecdotal. Bullshit. I see no shininess problems with a five person cast. The only issue is when they all talk over each other. But Bill hasn't really brought that up. According to earlier in this same article, he just seems to hate laughter. I bet he hates babies and America, too.

Let's take a trip down Memory Lane. When I was growing up, Brent Musberger, Phyllis George/Jayne Kennedy, Irv Cross and Jimmy The Greek made up CBS's groundbreaking "NFL Today," the first "modern" pregame show that worked because Brent was so good and CBS was smart enough to keep it to four people.

Therrrrrrrrrrrrre we go. This is the real issue; things aren't like they were during Bill's glory days anymore, so they're bad.

The non-Brent talent was sorely lacking. Phyllis and Jayne were cute enough, but they didn't know much about football and admitted as much. Irv smiled a lot and never said anything even interesting -- in fact, he's the first broadcaster I ever made fun of on a regular basis. And Jimmy had the TV persona of a drunken uncle who crashed your Thanksgiving family dinner, then made long-distance bets on your phone, complained about an itchy colon and yelled at you for accidentally changing the TV. Needless to say, I loved him. But not everybody did.

Needless to say, Jimmy the Greek turned out to be an ignorant weirdo. So yeah, I guess I'm not surprised Bill loved him. Was he from the Boston area? That would help further explain things.

Skipping through a brief history of the pregame show on each network.

Now each of the four shows is overproduced, overstaffed and overlaughed, only whenever an appealing "name" comes on the market (Bill Parcells, Jerome Bettis, Barber, whomever), the networks pursue him for the same nonsensical reason Mayweather bought two Maybachs. Maybe I don't need it, but what the hell, I'm rich! And that's the part I don't get. From 1975 to 2000, we just established that only two pregame shows stood out -- "NFL Today" in the late '70s (four people, likable host) and "NFL Sunday" in the mid-'90s (four people, likable host).

Bill's ability to turn opinion into fact is astonishing. It must be part of the key to his success. Let me use some parallel reasoning: the only two movies I like are "Back to the Future III" and "Mr. Baseball." So based on that, we've just established that there have only been two good movies ever made. The end. Unless you also want to count "Beavis and Butthead Do America," which is fine as long as we keep it in a separate category because it's animated.

So why would all four Sunday shows in 2007 feature five-man casts?


Probably because, as Bill admitted earlier in this very column, ratings are high. (There's probably also some focus group research in there somewhere as well.) Hmmmmmm. Shit. So if networks are using five man casts... and ratings are high, which means the networks are making lots of money... why would they keep using five man casts? Christ, this is hurting my brain. Anyone have any ideas?

Why would they willingly create the following six problems?

I hope one of the problems on the list isn't "Causing the network to make too much money."

Problem No. 1: A historic amount of overlaughing, fake-laughing and abstract laughing (when someone laughs at something that doesn't possess a single shred of humor, you either assume they're stoned or crazy).

Well, they could also be under the age of 17 and watching a Dane Cook special. Or they could be a big Bill Simmons fan, reading a Bill Simmons article. ZING!

Problem No. 2: Scripted "arguments" in which one guy makes his seemingly unrehearsed comment, then awkwardly stops and turns to the person who's supposed to make the next seemingly unrehearsed comment as the cameramen struggle to keep up. Even porn movies have smoother transitions.

As far as I can tell (this may not be true, but it's certainly my impression), Bill's employer wrote the fucking book on scripted arguments between analysts. Watch ten minutes of Sportscenter. You're going to stumble right into one, usually between two equally stupid opponents like Skip Bayless/Stephen A. Smith or John Kruk/Steve Phillips. So clearly, people eat this kind of stuff up. Don't blame the pregame shows for following the formula. (Anyone who can clarify whether or not ESPN popularized this practice, feel free to let me know.)

Problem No. 3: Relentless attempts by everyone to make over-the-top comments and predictions, then shamelessly flip those same predictions at halftime in the opposite direction. You might remember Shannon Sharpe pulling this off to perfection before and during last Sunday's Chargers-Titans game.

While I can't say this kind of stuff is at all excusable, let's run the hypocrite test take a look at what Bill has had to say about the Giants' chances against Tampa Bay and Dallas respectively during the past two weeks:

1/4/08, before the wild card round:

When I write the Playoff Manifesto 5.0, you can bet anything that Eli and Coughlin will be featured in a section that includes the words "don't" or "beware." Seriously, you're thinking of backing Coughlin, Eli and (probably) his second-string center in a road playoff game? Are you nuts?

The Pick: Buccaneers 27, Giants 20

1/11/08, in this column (published before the divisional round):

You wanted me to believe in Mr. "8-1 On The Road," Giants fans? Fine! I believe in Eli Manning! I was wrong! Now I'm on the bandwagon and you can't kick me off! Come on, Eli! TAKE US TO THE PROMISED LAND, ELI!!!!!!!!

The Pick: Giants 33, Cowboys 30.

Let's see: over-the-top comments and predictions? Check. Hell, those are the only kinds of comments and predictions he knows. Shameless flip-flopping? Well, it didn't happen at halftime, but Bill doesn't publish articles midway through games, so this is the next best thing. Backing Coughlin and Manning in a road playoff game? What are you, fuckin' nuts? (Fast forward to the 3:00 mark) Oh, yeah. I guess not.

Problem No. 4: In a misguided effort to give everyone air time during the halftime shows, both CBS and Fox have their nonhosts doing highlights. In other words, there's a trained professional on hand with command of the English language and a natural ability to narrate what's happening, and we have to listen to people such as Sharpe, Bradshaw and Marino stumbling through highlights like they're doing a Foster Brooks routine? And this makes sense ... how?

If you really get that much more out of a highlight when one of those "trained professionals" does the narration, you are too stupid to have a job as a sports columnist. Maybe the average everyday fan has a gripe here. But Bill has already established several times that he doesn't give a flying poo about the average everyday fan. Sharpe, Marino and Bradshaw (especially) are idiots. You have to listen to them do a whole 15 seconds worth of highlights every halftime. Deal with it. I'll still take any of them over Stuart Scott or Linda Cohn.

Problem No. 5: A never-ending effort to convince us that, yes, this show is gonna have some personality and we're gonna have some fun! YEE-HAH!

How dare they! How dare a television show attempt to excite its viewers! What do they think this is, show business? Get out there and be as unflashy and boring as possible, studio personalities. We didn't come here to be entertained by you. Actually, let's just cut out the problem entirely. Is there any way we can get robots to do their jobs? I find the humans' facial expressions extremely distracting. Stop grinning at me, Howie Long. You look like a troll.

(My favorite gimmick here: CBS's "live" commercial during games that shows the five studio guys standing uncomfortably next to one another, laughing for no real reason and flipping a football around the semi-circle as Jim Nantz does the "Coming up at halftime ..." voiceover. Invariably, someone drops the ball and everyone else laughs hysterically. Apparently, this sequence is supposed to get me psyched to hear some football talk or something.)

Yeah, you know what would be better? A shot of the field from a pulled back angle, with the players just kind of milling around because it's a TV timeout. Or a shot of the studio with all the guys sitting behind their giant desk. That would get me much more excited. I'm not saying the "dropped ball routine" is comedic gold in terms of execution, but I don't see a problem with its intention.

Problem No. 6: The alpha dog analyst never getting enough time to make his points. For instance, Cris Collinsworth does the most homework, watches the most tape and has the most insightful/provocative comments of anyone, with the possible exception of Parcells. And he's fighting for air time with Tiki Barber and Jerome Bettis on NBC? Really? That's what America wants?

Collinsworth is smart, but also smarmy and unentertaining. If I were allowed to speak for America, I would say that this is exactly what America wants. In fact, it would be even better if Collinsworth had to literally physically fight Bettis and Barber for access to a microphone in order to be heard on the air. That's what America really wants, although America is willing to admit it's probably asking too much.

Knowing these problems -- and let's face it, they're problems -- why wouldn't at least one network return to a four-person show? The simple answer: they don't like firing people or eating contracts, but they loooooooove hiring people. Nothing makes a network exec happier than announcing, "We're bringing in so-and-so!" And the sheer power of numbers makes shows feel like a bigger event than they actually are, so instead of choosing between Emmitt and Keyshawn, or Marino and Boomer, or Tiki and Bettis, they just keep both under the "bigger is better!" premise. Even if it inadvertently clogs up their shows and flies against the face of everything that has ever worked well on a Sunday pregame show.

The number of people in the greater New England area who now assume that this is fact, even though it's just one douchebag's opinion, is undoubtedly tragically high. They're like lemmings. This obnoxious man is their leader, and they will do what he says. If I had more time on my hands and didn't hate Boston sports so much right now, I'd check around some blogs for the next couple of days and see how many Massholes suddenly start feeling this exact same way about this exact same topic. I guarantee it'll happen. It's creepy.

Anyway, that's how we arrived at CBS's watershed six-guys-at-the-same-table pregame show last week. Six people! That's a lot of people. That's the cast of "Friends."

I wrote my earlier joke about "Friends" being unfunny before I read this part of the article, I promise. What a happy coincidence that Bill actually seems to like the show. But I wonder which Friend he likes the best? I'm guessing: all of them! ("Friends" guitar riff plays)

That's the number of people you're allowed to play in a hockey game. That's enough people to rent an off-campus house in college. That's the "Brady Bunch." That's nearly an entire table at a wedding.

Amazingly put. Top notch analysis. It's also how many outs there are in a complete inning of baseball. It's how many days per week the mail gets delivered. It's a number of beers or sodas commonly held together with flexible plastic rings. Are any of these examples helping you better understand how many "six" is? No? (Larry B holds up his entire outstretched right hand, and left hand in a partial fist with just the index finger extended) It's this many!

If you can explain to me how six people could attempt to discuss a football game when only one person can talk at a time, I'd love to hear it.

Well, first one guy talks, then another, then another, until all six of them have talked. Then they repeat that process. Viola! Magic. Furthermore, the difference between four and six is basically negligible as long as they don't talk over each other too much. Which shouldn't happen if, you know, their producer has them well prepared to do their extremely easy job. Everyone gets less time to talk, but more viewpoints are presented. And the general format of a roundtable discussion about the sport of football should be pretty much unchanged, unless one of the guys wandered over from a different set or something. It's not very complex.

Did CBS stop and think, "Wow, maybe this was a bad idea?" Of course not. For about four minutes, they aired a round-table "conversation" that made all of Spencer's and Heidi's scenes in Season 3 of "The Hills" look unscripted and off-the-cuff by comparison.

I also made my obligatory joke about Simmons liking "The Hills" before I read that. God, I hate my brain and how much of it is devoted to knowing how Bill Simmons thinks.

The amazing part was the sheer volume of people sitting at the same table.

If you grew up with three or more siblings and both parents, and sometimes all ate meals at the same table, you are part of a weirdo-freak family. Congratulations.

How did they even fit six people on the same screen?


By having them sit kind of close together, and zooming out the camera. And using voodoo to shrink everyone.

Did they discuss having Casserly sit on Shannon's lap? Did they have to buy smaller chairs? Now I'm wondering what the limit will be. I never thought we'd see six on camera at the same time. Will we reach seven?

If market research and ratings say so, yes. Yes we will. I can't wait to read Bill's ensuing column.

Is that even possible?

Yes. If Woody Paige can help choose who gets into the Baseball Hall of Fame and who doesn't, I believe that anything is possible.

What if we did an eight-man show with two rows of tables? Where are we headed?

Hopefully for a "Hollywood Squares" type of grid setup. I'd watch that in a heartbeat.

I'd believe anything at this point.

OK. Next year, all four major networks that show the NFL will make massive cutbacks and limit their studio on camera staff to one man: Tim McCarver. He's going to do pregame and halftime shows for all of them. He'll even be doing play-by-play and color during games for FOX on certain weekends.

One last note, and this is the funniest part: Fox dominated the ratings from 1994 to 2005 with James Brown as its host, winning 132 of 134 straight shows at one point. Before the 2006 season, JB switched to CBS ... and CBS edged Fox for the first time ever. This season, CBS whupped Fox even more handily. Could you credit the change in power to JB? Actually, you probably could -- he's the best studio host alive and has been for years.

Although Brown may resonate well with viewers, FireJay reader Ben sent me a hopefully non-sarcastic email with a better idea. CBS does the majority of Patriots games. You think that maybe their even-more-immense-than-a-few-years-ago popularity (not to mention non-fans just wanting to follow their search for a perfect record) might have something to do with those numbers? It's definitely possible. Ben also makes the excellent point that almost all of Bill's examples in this article deal with the CBS pregame show, probably for the same reason as the ratings shift. Bill watches Patriots games and that's probably about it, so CBS is the only network whose coverage he's fully familiar with. But he's more than comfortable lumping in the other networks with them for the purposes of this article, because if he didn't, it wouldn't make much sense. I am/Ben is not saying he's never seen NBC or ESPN or FOX's show... I am/Ben is just saying, there aren't a lot of examples of their alleged misdeeds in here. So he can't have seen too much of them

Like in the '70s with Musberger and CBS, on-the-fence viewers are gravitating toward a pregame show because of a host and not because of the four ex-players and ex-coaches sitting next to him. Really, it's not rocket science. The host matters the most. Chemistry matters second. That's it. And you can't have chemistry when you have too many people trying to talk at once.

1) These are not facts, they are opinions. So no. That is not "it."
2) This is the first time too many people trying to talk at once has been brought up. If it happens, it's a problem. Do we know from this paragraph that it definitely happens? Nope. But we do know that the host matters the most, and that rhyming your points is always a better way to get them across. That's why Sesame Street is so popular with the age 3-10 demographic.

(And yes, if this was a Sunday pregame show, everyone else would wait a beat to make sure I was finished, then they'd start laughing hysterically for no discernable reas-

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh, I didn't have to pause before I laughed at that! Not just because this isn't actually a Sunday pregame show, but also because this whole column has been just too dang funny. HO HO HO HO. It feels like I just read a bunch of Ziggy cartoons while a Robin Williams movie played in the background!

There's more to this column, but I'm going to bed. Maybe I'll get to it tomorrow if I really feel like working myself into a frenzy again.

18 comments:

Chris W said...

Guns 'n' Roses and The Rolling Stones had five members

Jeff said...

Say what you want about Simmons, but he can still bang out over 2,000 words on something as stupid as a 5-man pregame team being better than a 4-man pregame team with little effort. Only had to use one Vegas reference too.

The Sports Gal refused to rant again this week in protest of the fact "nobody made it clear to me that having two kids would suck this much."

Shut. Up. You are not interesting.

Tonus said...

I turn on the ESPN pregame show and spend the whole time wishing that Keyshawn Johnson was unemployed. I like Emmett Smith, I agree with a lot of his opinions and I love the way he tortures the English language.

John Foley said...

This was a pretty harmless column by Simmons' standards. I think you're overreacting.

jones said...

Ho hum. One of Simmons' less lame pieces of the last six months, actually. He's toned down the Heil Welker bullshit and the general Bawston hubris, and gone back to his strengths, which are, sadly:

1. talking endlessly about television personalities, and

2. conflating sports arguments with MTV's "Real World" arguments.

This is pretty much his wheelhouse. He'd damn well better at least make contact here.

Brian said...

I still like Simmons. He still makes me laugh. I will not apologize. I will continue struggling to formulate sentences longer than 5 words. Hey I just did! Woo Hoo!

larry b said...

C Dub- That is true. And A-Ha has three members.

Tonus- See, I like Keyshawn. A little over the top, but his ability to banter with Parcells was great. Of course, now that The Tuna is back in the game, I may have to re-evaluate that opinion.

Jones, John, Jeff, and anyone else who wants to stop by and put in a good word for Bill- This is certainly not nearly as bad as many of his other columns. I'm shocked that neither Welker nor KG got brought up. But the tone and delivery still bother me. And I definitely fundamentally disagree with his thesis that these five (and SIX! OH NO!) man shows are some horrible abomination and insult to viewers everywhere. Finally, like I said at the beginning, he writes pretty infrequently but is our #1 most searched tag according to Google Analytics so I'm inclined to pick apart whatever he puts out, even if it's not indefensibly terrible.

larry b said...

Same goes to you, Brian. No apology necessary. But I'm sticking to my guns as well. Short sentences are good. They make saying stuff easier. I like cake.

Andrew said...

I hope next season CBS does a pregame show with Tony Eason, Jim Rice, Steve Gogan, John Hannah, Irving Fryar, Terry Francona, and Bob Cousy so that Simmons can retract this entire column.

cs said...

Bill Simmons' ideal pregame show: Four man show, Bill Simmons the host, and JBug, House and Jacko doing analysis (imagine how much laughter we'd have then!) And for those pre-taped have-a-comedian-like-Frank-Caliendo-pick-the lines-segments, they'd go to the ever so sassy and bitchy Sports Gal for another rant about her fucking baby, reality tv and how loser-ish fantasy sports is (but watching and then writing entire columns on ESPN about the Bachelorette is not)

Chris W said...

MAKE ROOM FOR HENCH

Anonymous said...

No! No, no not 4! I said 7. 7's the key number here. Think about it. 7-Elevens. 7 doors. 7, man, that's the number. 7 chipmunks twirlin' on a branch, eatin' lots of sunflowers on my uncle's ranch. You know that old children's tale from the sea. It's like you're dreamin' about Gorgonzola cheese when it's clearly Brie time, baby.

larry b said...

Most recent anonymous wins the Best Comment of the Day award. Since he can't claim his prize (which happens to be this recently popped bag of microwave popcorn I'm holding) due to anonymity, I will eat it.

Chris W said...

step into my office.

because you're fucking fired man

blanco112 said...

So apparently Simmons decided to comment on some reader responses to his column the other day, specifically the piece on Axel Foley. The key sentence is the last one (doesn't this kind of sum up all of his "theories?"

"I have to admit, I considered the black/white thing when I was writing that section -- hell, I've even joked about it before in a 2002 mailbag (scroll down to the Jamie Gertz question) -- but decided it didn't help my 'Was Axel gay?' argument and left it out."

larry b said...

Christ almighty. Sad.

John Foley said...

Anecdotal. Bullshit.

I don't personally know anyone who likes "House," "Two and a Half Men" (or as one of my friends calls it, "Two Guys and a Fat Kid"), or "Dancing With the Stars," but I'm a big boy who understands the whole world doesn't think the exact same way I do about things.


I think you're missing a very valuable piece of analysis here. Options, or more precisely, the lack of options. Viewers tune in to watch "House" or "Dancing With the Stars" instead of the dozens of other things that they could be watching. Someone has to deliberately choose to watch "House" instead of "Desperate Housewives" or "Hannity and Colmes" or even "CSI: Miami" re-runs. They could just not watch TV at all, it being Friday night. They could do any of a thousand other things. The decision to watch one of these shows is made instead of one of these thousand other things.
Whereas if you're tuning in for a big NFL playoff game, you're kind of stuck with the lousy pre-game show. It's a package deal. I suppose you could just wait until the pre-game is over, or get all your pre-game analysis from another source, but we're talking about percentages here. You figure 50 percent of the viewers of the game itself are also watching the pre-game show. Even if it were only 25 percent, that would be an awful lot of viewers.
Let me put it another way- we all watch playoff baseball, but it's not because of how much we love Buck and McCarver.
Simmons can be annoying as all hell, but he's right about how terrible these shows are. He's right for once.

larry b said...

John, I see what you're getting at, but I think you disproved your own point somewhere in there.

They could just not watch TV at all, it being Friday night. They could do any of a thousand other things. The decision to watch one of these shows is made instead of one of these thousand other things.

Exactly. People are choosing to watch these shows over any of those other things. Your point is my point. And I don't think you can just explain the distinction with

Whereas if you're tuning in for a big NFL playoff game, you're kind of stuck with the lousy pre-game show. It's a package deal.

Howso? If the two events (pregame show and actual game) are happening at different times, which they are... I don't see how you can justify that. That contradicts your McCarver/Buck comparison. You literally cannot tune into a postseason baseball game on TV without those two being involved. But you definitely can watch a football game and avoid the pregame show.

I suppose you could just wait until the pre-game is over, or get all your pre-game analysis from another source,

Yes, yes you could. You said it yourself- you have thousands of other programming options, not to mention dozens of other sources of information about the game.

I understand the fact that there are probably a certain number of TVs that are tuned into the pregame for the hell of it. But if the shows really sucked that bad (according to Americans as a whole), the ratings would not be where they are. Plus, as I said in my original critique of the article, I'm sure the networks don't make major changes to their shows without running them past focus groups. Someone out there, many someones out there in fact, likes this stuff. Simmons is wrong. And with all due respect from a small time blog operator to a regular commenter, you also are wrong.

But let's move past this. Who wants some punch and cookies!?!?!