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"Great Scorers"

Everybody complains about sportscasters, but one thing about growing up in NYC is you don't appreciate exactly how bad it can get in the smaller markets. Watching Lakers at Grizzlies, for example, one of the dudes was just trying to maintain that Kobe Bryant and Eddie Jones is a matchup of "two great scorers." I mean, look, Jones is a good player, an asset most teams could use. But seriously! Related to the general idiocy, the local NBA commentators are relentlessly partisan, whining about the officiating, etc. It's a pain.

As background, for some Comcast doesn't seem to think my preview week of NBA League Pass is done with. I'm slightly clueless as to what the market for that product is supposed to be. I like watching regular season pro basketball a lot more than the next guy. But between the Wizards games, NBA TV, ESPN, and TNT that's an awful lot of basketball being shown as is.

November 14, 2005 | Permalink


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Come on Matt. The market is for Knicks fans not in New York, etc. It basically esits so people can follow their own team outside of the home area. The rest of the games are are add n.

Posted by: Rob | Nov 14, 2005 8:56:30 PM

The league passes don't really have any marginal cost to anyone. All the games go over the satellite so they can get the hilights onto SportCenter, and the cable companies have more than enough bandwidth as it is.

My hunch is that most of the buyers are out-of-market fans, say, people who used to live in one place, but moved somewhere else, and now they can't see as many of their home team's games as they'd like. But, the Hawks are approaching historically bad, having traded for Rasheed Wallace with the intention of flipping him, Gary Payton with the intention of cutting him and letting him sign with his previous team (!), and Terrell Brandon with the knowledge that he would never play basketball again (!!!), so I have no reason to use such a service.

Personally I think this makes more sense in baseball, where home team allegiances are deeper, and you will sometimes have second and third-generation fans who root for the home team of their father or father's father. But as I said, it's not like this sort of service is very expensive to anyone involved.

What bugs me is that the channel lies empty during non-broadcast times. There's no reason for them not to use the time to put marathon reruns of HBO/Showtime/Cinemax shows on and charge you 60% of the DVD for a day's worth of The Wire or Deadwood or whatnot.

Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot | Nov 14, 2005 9:00:40 PM

Good comments already -- but lest we forget, gambling (and even fantasy basketball, although that's really unappealing to me) is also relevant here.

Posted by: Jeff | Nov 14, 2005 9:46:44 PM

Yup, out-of-market fans, I got League Pass so I could see my Pistons games, although a lot of them are already on national TV as it is.

Posted by: Haggai | Nov 14, 2005 10:48:39 PM

Also, if your cable system gets INHD on your hi-def channel set, there are a few games a week there too. If you live in NYC, you've got TWO local teams' games, besides all the national games. I can't watch all that NBA anyway, so no reason to shell out the $189...

Posted by: Al | Nov 14, 2005 10:57:14 PM

At any rate, as long as they want to give it to me for free, that's cool. Knicks win!

Posted by: Matthew Yglesias | Nov 14, 2005 11:38:56 PM

The INHD games, while appreciated, are just simulcasts of (some of the) NBA TV games, so it's not actually additional basketball. But speaking of NBA on INHD, what's the deal with the ESPN-HD basketball broadcasts? Where's my widescreen? Comcast does it? TNT does it? ESPN does it for football? Bastards

Posted by: Matthew Yglesias | Nov 14, 2005 11:41:02 PM

I had that game on in the other room for a little while. After I heard that the score was 73-62, I thought, OK, end of the third quarter...but no, that was the final score! Jazz had *eight* points in the third...yikes.

Posted by: Haggai | Nov 14, 2005 11:42:28 PM

I wish I had your problem Matt. I don't have cable and I can't see any Sonics games without going to the bar or a friends house. Not exactly convenient or cheap. What is with not even one game a week being on broadcast TV? This is a crime!


Posted by: Carl | Nov 15, 2005 1:55:54 AM

"Everybody complains about sportscasters, but one thing about growing up in NYC is you don't appreciate exactly how bad it can get in the smaller markets. ... Related to the general idiocy, the local NBA commentators are relentlessly partisan, whining about the officiating, etc. It's a pain."

NYC has its own particular broadcasting warts. Don't forget that the Knicks fired Marv Albert because he wouldn't be partisan enough.

And what can one say about Clyde? While on balance, I enjoy his act - he nicely captures the flow of the game - sometimes it does get to be a bit much. I always get the mental picture of him sitting down before games and eating an entire thesaurus with a knife and fork. Omnipotent!

But for every two or three lousy local crews, you occasionally run across a gem. I've repeatedly enjoyed Indiana's sportscasters. They're relentlessly non-partisan, insightful about the finer points of the game, and actually seem to enjoy basketball.


"Comcast doesn't seem to think my preview week of NBA League Pass is done with. I'm slightly clueless as to what the market for that product is supposed to be."

As others have mentioned, out-of-town fans are obviously a huge part of it. I ponied up the dough to watch all 82 Sixers games, rather than the 10 - 15 I'd otherwise be able to catch.

But I also enjoy the ability to do my own programming. Just because the geniuses at ESPN think I'd like to watch Devner/San Antonio doesn't mean I wouldn't really rather watch Golden State/Milwaukee. When it comes to fetuses and NBA programming, I'm pro-choice.

Posted by: Petey | Nov 15, 2005 2:44:16 AM

As to NYC broadcasters, I think Petey is right. I like Clyde, but his schtick occasionally wears on me. And I absolutely LOATHE Mike Breen. He is abominable, just unwatchable. His preening, holier-than-thou attitude toward the players completely turns me off. Just announce the play-by-play, Mike. Marv Albert is great, and I'm glad that he got a job with the Nets after being canned by the Knicks. But, I've got to admit, I like the prior Nets announcer (Ian Eagle - who also does football for CBS) even better. He's an excellent play-by-play guy, and has a long history with the Nets... and familiarity with your announcer counts for a lot, I think.

Oh, and as for the Knicks/Jazz game last night - Utah was playing without 3 of their top 4 players (AK47, Boozer & Giricek). So you've got to cut them some slack.

Posted by: Al | Nov 15, 2005 9:51:01 AM

I'm one of those aforementioned "out of town" fans -- went to college and rec'd Bullet tickets a lot (no big feat -- this was the era with Bernard King and the hope of the franchise was none other than Pervis Ellison).

Besides, I live in Kansas City: the # of NBA fans here is about, um, one.

Fact is, the NBA does a remarkable job of catering to their fans: forget the League Pass, which has been replicated elsewhere. The NBA Network itself is terrific -- with better studio analysts than one would expect. Couple that with the fact that TNT does a better job broadcasting the sport once a week than any other network with any other sport... well, it isn't exactly a newsflash to state the NBA caters to their fans better than any sport.

NYC announcers: Walt Frazier is just horrific, sorry. I'm with Petey and he beat me to the "thesaurus" reference. I'd add: auspicious.

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