Thursday, June 2, 2011

Watching Grand Slam tennis on TV - the time zone dilemma

Do you watch the Grand Slam tennis tournaments live or tape-delayed? When you don’t have a choice, because the network (e.g. NBC) delays the airing of a match for ratings et al, are you tempted to peek at the live scores before or while you’re watching it?

There are other sporting events – like the Olympics – in which knowing the outcome beforehand can affect whether you watch a particular event or not. You may watch to see the results that you know in advance because you care about that particular athlete, want to see them win their event or how they lost it, heard that a new world record was established etc. But these events are fairly specialized, and they occur only once every 2 (or 4) years. U.S. tennis fans have viewing decisions to make at least three and possibly four times per year.

Even if you have a flexible working schedule or are retired, you have to decide whether to get up at early hours (especially if you’re on the west coast) to watch many of the of the French Open and Wimbledon tournaments live. For Australian Open matches, you might have to stay up the entire night. Of course, the ATP, WTA and tournament officials know that the U.S. audience is one of their largest, and they do make some accommodations, but weather and the network(s) also have the ability to mess up even the best of these intentions. There is nothing more frustrating than having to wait (e.g.) until noon EDT to see a match at Wimbledon that started an hour or more earlier just because NBC had set their timeslot, or to have to switch channels from one ESPN station to another to keep watching a match (this trick can only be accomplished when one is watching the match live, obviously; your DVR has no way of doing this on its own).

Oops, this is starting to sound an awful lot like my earlier rant. Oh well, I guess that watching the matches at Roland Garros this year has elicited fresh passion.

In answering my own second question, I will frequently peek at the scores in advance to decide whether I want to watch a match tape-delayed. If it appears to be or to have been a good match, I’ll watch it:  all or just the key games (breaks of serve and/or tiebreakers). On my DirecTV DVR, there are several speed options; I’ve found that 2 or 3 work very well for seeing what’s going on enough to stop & rewind to play & see the points of interest in matches that I don’t have time to watch in their entirety.

No comments:

Post a Comment