On Saturday night Turner Sports tried something new with three different broadcasts of the same Final Four games including team-specific broadcasts aimed at fans of each of the four schools.
The unorthodox broadcast led to confusion and anger among some fans whom TBS studio host Charles Barkley would refer to as “idiots,” as they were unaware they were watching intentionally biased coverage.
Teamcasts were the root of the confusion
The game announcers referred to the broadcast as “historic” on several occasions. In addition to the standard broadcast on TBS, Turner Sports also broadcast “teamcasts” on TNT and TruTV.
While video during live action was the same on all three networks, cameras during the teamcasts would focus on one specific school during dead-ball situations and each broadcast used broadcasters with ties to that teamcast’s school.
For example, TNT’s Florida Gators teamcast focused on the Gators bench while UConn players were being introduced and after the game did not show any post-game, on-court interviews with the winning UConn players and coaches.
Turner Sports was not in a position to get the message to the fans
CBS Sports and Turner Sports don’t have the everyday grasp of the average sports fan the way ESPN, Fox Sports, and even NBC Sports does. Therefore, many fans did not get the memo and there was no reason for the other networks to pass it along.
Confusion set in and many fans took to social media to express their anger.
Charles Barkley was less than understanding
Social media was flooded with angry tweets and status updates from fans who were unaware they had stumbled upon the opposing team’s broadcast.
This led to a funny, albeit overly harsh, moment during the TBS broadcast in which studio host Charles Barkley referred to those fans as “idiots” more than once.
The games did deliver record ratings
The combined ratings of the three networks for the Wisconsin-Kentucky game set a record as the most-watched college basketball game ever on cable television.
Of course, the Final Four is normally broadcast network television and the combined rating won’t be used in rankings. But the total viewership was nearly identical to games four and five of the NBA Finals.
So despite the confusion and anger, the value of commercials will remain high and the teamcasts are probably here to stay.