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October 10, 2015

Things I Hate About TV: Sunday sports running over into primetime

by Allison Waldman, posted Apr 28th 2008 5:21PM
Joe NamathLet me start this rant by saying that I like sports. No, I love sports. I'm a fan. I get the DirecTV NBA package and the major league baseball games. I can talk to you for hours about stats and players and great games. That said, I hate the way Sunday sports programming drifts over into primetime. This happens primarily on CBS and Fox with the NFL games in the fall and winter, but the other networks have been guilty of staying with the game and then still insisting on showing the primetime schedule after the game is over -- even if that means that an 8 o'clock show begins at 8:45 and your DVR gets all screwed up and you wind up with only 15 minutes of a show you wanted to see!

What I don't get about the reasoning of the programmers is that they don't use common sense. If a football game or golf tournament goes past 7 o'clock, why not trim the first show of your schedule? You can dump Andy Rooney and still show most of 60 Minutes. It's not a perfect system, but if I have to choose between a complete 60 Minutes or seeing Cold Case at the scheduled time, I vote for the latter. Otherwise the 10 o'clock show doesn't end till well past my bed time. (Gosh, I sound like such an old fart!)

The networks have to stay with sports now because of the most famous incident ever in the history of mucking up a sports broadcast. It was called the Heidi game. November 17, 1968. The New York Jets were playing the Oakland Raiders (when both teams were great, by the way -- Joe Namath was the Jets' QB). The game was being broadcast on NBC and the Jets were winning 32-29 with 65 seconds left on the clock. Thinking that there was no way the Raiders were going to come back to beat the Jets, NBC hastily switched from the game at 7 o'clock (EST) to begin broadcasting the special movie of the night, Heidi. Timex, who was sponsoring the special TV movie version of the Swiss children's classic, were promised 7-9 p.m. and that's what NBC delivered.

Sports fans were outraged, especially when the Raiders came back to score 14 points in nine seconds and won the game! What most people don't recall is that NBC had second thoughts after switching off the game. They were inundated with calls from football fans, but it was too late and too complicated to reconnect the feed for the broadcast. Because of that infamous game, NFL contracts with the networks include a provision that all games be shown in a team's market area to the conclusion, regardless of the score. There'll never be another Heidi game.

The networks, however, can alter their primetime lineups -- and that's why I hate spillover Sunday sports. Tiger Woods is great to watch in the afternoon, but by the time dinner's over, I want him in the clubhouse and my TV screen to return to regularly-scheduled primetime programming. Okay? Okay.

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Cold Chilli

This is why Fox has added a Recap show at 7pm-8pm to cover the long games. The spill over happens to the Recap show rather than the Simpsons.
CBS hasn't gotten this idea yet and lets it spill over into 60 Mins.

Another reason why the networks don't mind the spill over is that it effects the Nielsen ratings. So the 7pm time slot gets more viewers in the fall.

April 30 2008 at 12:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

One of the great benefits of recording with a VCR instead of a DVR is that you can program it to run an extra hour just in case the sports program you aren't watching runs over & screws up the timeslot of the show you actually want to watch. Works every time.

April 29 2008 at 11:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to gyzmette's comment
David Weinberger

I don't know of any benefits a VCR has over a TiVo. That certainly isn't one since I regularly extend my Sun FOX and CBS shows on my TiVos whenever there are sporting events on late Sun. If generic cable DVRs can't manually extend (I've never had one)... Ick!

April 29 2008 at 10:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Eric Matisoff

The bottom line is, the cable companies have to do a better job at updating the software that the DVRs run on. If there's a game that starts at 4:15, and it goes past 7, the Guide on the DVR should be updated from Comcast (or whoever your provider is) so that if your show gets pushed back (be it 60 Minutes with Andy Rooney or Cold Case) it still gets it's full time on screen, and the DVRs are told about the change in time. That's all that needs to happen, but our cable companies are too stupid because they don't know what it means to be customer-oriented...

April 29 2008 at 10:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Eric Matisoff's comment

With most cable companies being virtual monopolies in the areas they serve, they really have no reason to be customer-oriented, unfortunately.

April 29 2008 at 11:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Football killed Futurama, and I haven't watched a game since.

April 29 2008 at 8:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

That's why us european watch soccer: in most games the timer stops only one time, for 15 minutes starting on minute 45.
one game is 105 to 110 minutes, and you know it is never going to be more.

well, except with some games like the world cup, that can be 30 minutes more if there is no winner on minute 90. I hate world cup.

April 29 2008 at 8:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brent McKee

The interesting thing - which I discovered while tracking ratings for "The Amazing Race" in the seasons when it aired on Sunday nights - is that it was frequently the case that shows (like TAR) that were delayed by sports actually pulled higher ratings than they did when they aired at their regular times. I suppose part of the reason for this is that people don't want to come in in the middle of a show. Or something like that.

April 29 2008 at 5:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It'll never happen, but we have channels for showing sports, so show the sports on those channels. I wouldn't expect ESPN to be airing LOST, so why should CBS air football?

I know it's silly, but as long as sports are being shown on network television, there'll be delays, pre-emptions and outright dropping of episodes of regularly scheduled programming. The way I see it, the only solution is to move the sports to another channel, that way the viewer can decide what's more important, or at least give the DVRs a chance to record that favorite show while the game's on a sports channel. Otherwise, we continued to get screwed by games that run over.

April 28 2008 at 11:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If the NFL, et al, require the entire game to be shown, they should make a better effort to keep the game on time in most cases. A lot of time is lost with the teams milling about between plays.

I'm a sport fan (singular). I'm a cycling fan. If I'm lucky, I get to watch a couple hours a week. During the Tour de France, network TV will offer an hour a week that sums up 24-30 hours of riding. Just the major attacks.

Perhaps that's what they could do: instead of showing the game live, show it with all the "standing around" time edited out. Four, fifteen minute quarters would take...one hour-ish.

I know--the complaint will be that it won't be live--someone may find out the score prior to the end of the broadcast...

...kinda like finding the outcome of the stage in France while in the US.

April 28 2008 at 8:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yeah, living on the west coast is just about the best thing ever. We never miss primetime. Why? Well, your 4;15 kickoff is our 1:15 kickoff we'll ever see. Aside from the Sunday/Monday night games. What's even better is the cable channels that air their shows "live" across the nation. Hence, I get my new South Park and Psych at 7:00 pm rather than having to wait until 10.

April 28 2008 at 7:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree 100%, they need to start games earlier so that it does not interfere with the Prime Time schedule. At least I have time shifting so I can watch the West feed which is usually not interrupted.

April 28 2008 at 6:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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