Which I’m thankful for in the sports media

If I had seen as much sports content as a kid as I do today, I would have been expelled from school. I used my Chandlers more for team schedules than for homework.

We can follow our teams anywhere on any device through numerous resources. We can interact with other fans anywhere on any device. And the best thing is that we can watch any game anywhere on any device.

It’s a cute table that keeps getting refilled, a bottomless bucket of buttery popcorn. It’s a dream come true!

It’s overwhelming too.

If you listed all the items available on the sports media marketplace, you could fill an old Sears catalog. And that saturation isn’t limited to sports. Media research firm Parks Associates said there are more than 300 direct-to-consumer streaming services in the United States. Who can see all this?

Back when cable was king — which isn’t that long ago — many customers wished they had an a la carte option so they didn’t have to pay for what they didn’t see. Now they do, but they still may need a combination of services to be satisfied. These services add up in cost and eventually resemble . . . Cable.

I haven’t cut the cable yet and I don’t intend to. That’s not to say I’m against Virtual Multichannel Video Programming Distributors (vMVPDs) — that’s the nerd name for streaming services. I just prefer the easy navigation and rich content that Kabel offers.

Believe me, I subscribe to a lot of streamers: Prime Video, ESPN+, MLB.TV, Netflix. They all meet a sport fix, but they are appointment viewings. I have to find her. The content finds me on cable. A game or a show comes up while I’m browsing channels and I get involved with something I wouldn’t otherwise do.

So while it’s great to have “optionality,” as the honchos call it, and while I enjoy the sports content machines that produce audio, video, and written works, I’m still happy to have my trusty old one to have boxes. Coax came into my life in the mid 1980’s and it has kept me connected to the games I care about. You can cut your cord if you like. I prefer to splice mine.

Cable is still here and I thank you for that.

Here are some other aspects of sports media that I’m grateful for:

result error

I remember the first time I saw a point error in an NFL game. Fox introduced it in 1994, the first year it owned the NFC package. I remember not liking the shape of the graph because the teams’ results didn’t agree (my OCD at work). It didn’t even include Down and Distance. But it was great.

For football fans that was a foreign word. Maybe it’s because it came from a foreigner, former Fox Sports boss David Hill, an Australian. He said he received death threats after debuting FoxBox, but today you won’t find a game broadcast without a score error.

They can be information overload (when you’re watching Bally Sports) and take up too much screen real estate (check out ESPN’s college football chart). But they can also be space efficient and visually appealing (top of the hat to Marquee Sports Network).

Good or bad, they are a necessity. Could you watch a match broadcast without one?

podcast

If you think there are too many streaming services, guess how many podcasts are available. Reportedly about 2.5 million. But here’s the thing: there’s a podcast for everyone.

I loved the West Wing TV show. When I learned in 2016 that a podcast was being created to revisit and examine each episode, I was ecstatic. The same applies to sports. The team you’re cheering on surely has podcasts dedicated to them. Some are run by reporters covering the team, others by fans bleeding the team’s colors. Some are good, others not so much.

But they are perfect for the fans who are not served by sports radio. For example, in the ’90s, I was one of those Blackhawks fans who was jealous of all the media attention the Bulls were getting. There were few, if any, places in this city to listen to hockey talk. Now there is a series of podcasts dedicated to the Hawks.

Those would have been nice during the 1992 playoff run.

Part-time reporter

The men and women who roam the limits of the game and brave the elements take a lot of criticism for being superfluous parts of a game broadcast. But often viewers have no idea that they are adding something to the show when it is the announcers weaving in the information received.

Admittedly, some reports are not very revealing. But the best reporters keep an eye on the sidelines or benches and either share their discovery themselves or pass it on to the producer. They’re a must at football games, and hockey coverage has benefited greatly from having reporters or analysts between the benches seeing and hearing things that those in the dressing room can’t.

Happy Thanksgiving to all who bring exercise into our homes.

remote patrol

IHSA Championship football games are broadcast live on Friday on The U (channel 26.2 or 48.1) and Saturday on CW26 (channel 26.1) from Memorial Stadium in Champaign. Classes 1A-4A play Friday and 5A-8A play Saturday. Games are scheduled at 10am, 1pm, 4am and 7am daily.

Chris Vosters is taking a break from the Hawks to call Illinois-Northwestern for Big Ten Network at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. He is accompanied by an analyst Brock Veren and reporters Megan McKeown.

Mitch Rosen, director of programming at The Score, has been promoted to vice president of the Audacy-powered BetQL network, where he will oversee content and distribution. Rosen will stay with The Score.



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