Tape-delayed sports: an insult to viewers

Okay. It’s Saturday morning and time for a rant.

I didn’t watch the Ryder Cup last weekend, because NBC chose to tape delay the event, which was played in Ireland. I would’ve gotten up early to watch it live, but instead, I had to do what I’m sure many, many people did — “watch” it via the live leaderboards available online.

Same thing this morning. Tiger Woods is on a roll, reminiscent of the 2000 season, and he leads the American Express World Golf Championship in England by five shots after two rounds. ESPN carried the first two days live, but ABC — on a college football afternoon — is tape delaying the event. This is a tired, old Media 1.0 strategy, and it begins with the foolish assumption that a.) more people will watch in the afternoon and b.) they can get away with it. If Tiger wins, it will be six-in-a-row in 72-hole events. That’s what’s called history, but history isn’t live on ABC. I mean, WTF?

Tape-delaying live events has never been okay. It’s programmers swinging their meat because they can, and this is at the heart of the consumer revolt against broadcasting. When will we ever learn?


  1. “I mean, WTF?”

    why not tell us what you really think?

  2. Terry, I agree completely. Keep up the good work. Love your blog.

  3. If ABC ran Tiger’s tournament in real time, Tiger’s tee time was 5:39 am ET (10:39 am BST).
    Too much money to be lost in the East and Midwest Sunday (local morning shows, GMA, This Week, religious programming) and on Saturday (local morning shows, GMA, kids programming).
    Not everyone has a DVR to do their own time-shifting. They let ABC do it for them.
    Yes, it’s old media.
    But, Disney’s not a charity, is it?
    The time-delay was on at a good time for local duffers to watch after their morning matches, or hell, even Sunday church.

  4. Why aren’t these people talking to Tivo and whoever to develop some sort of DVR-only channels? I’m sure that Tivo could maybe benefit by offering unique, “live” channels from timezones other than in the US — I know some people here who would watch BBC channels for example; some would watch it live as it happened, others would record it to watch later, but having the choice would be a good move for the content provider.

    Someone with more inside knowledge can discuss how the money would work, but I’ve got to believe there’s money in it somehow.

  5. 5w30,

    Disney also has this company called ESPN, with multiple channels. How about a bloody webcast? I didn’t watch a stroke.

  6. Nah, The Worldwide Leader’s doing the umpteenth rerun of SportsCenter at that hour.
    Hell, I’d record it if it was on ESPN.
    Or on the web.
    FYI your blog gets us all thinking.
    For the better.
    But there’s a lot of people representing a lot of money that say otherwise.
    I’ve said that tv now is like the motion picture industry, which fought all innovation due to costs — sound (radio, too), color, tv, pay-tv, VCR’s, DVD’s, and Al Gore’s favorite invention.
    And when it comes to sports rights … ugh.

  7. i fail to see why a penny would have been lost if they showed it on tv or webcast it in real time.

    would it have changed the outcome of the match?

    they probably left a pile of money on the table as fans like Terry would watch it with interest at any hour. and probably again later in the day if there were some memorable shots.

    not being into golf i’m not sure what that would entail, but the same logic could be used for any other sports or time-sensitive show.

  8. I’m no technical guru. And I know there are some limitation to live streaming on the web. But what if ABC offered at PPV option for say, $5.00 or $6.00 you get a password protected viewing option of the Ryder Cup. Even if live streaming was too expensive, I would have still paid for a time delay of say 10 minutes or so. There’s a solution here. No doubt.

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