…Incompetently Brought to You By NBC

It sometimes hurts to bite the hand that feeds you, but as an employee of NBC Universal, it is impossible to keep silent over the current debacle plaguing our airwaves disguised as Wimbledon tennis coverage. If today’s NBC coverage of the Championships at Wimbledon is any indication of how they will treat the upcoming Beijing Olympics, it’s best for us to warm up to the idea of following the event online, with no moving images or live tracking of events, especially those pesky human rights violations that will inevitably occur. Rarely does a network exhibit such mind-boggling levels of incompetence in covering news—complete disregard for significant events, irrelevant footage of other sports playing in the background, more commercials and product placements than a B-rated Will Smith science fiction movie.

Perhaps most insulting about the whole ordeal is the simplicity of the task set before them. Matches are happening; all they have to do is cover them. The cameras are set on the courts. The players are playing. And in this year’s especially eccentric Wimbledon, where half a dozen of the world’s best said goodbye within the first week, the tournament presents broadcasters no need to even fabricate contrived drama to keep viewers interested.

Let’s take a look at the events happening right now, shall we? Wimbledon.org proudly displays the scores of current matches—dead heats involving world #4 Richard Gasquet (who would like you to know that he is totally not gay) and Serbian hopes Jelena Jankovic and Janko Tipsarevic. Sounds like a quality day out on the field at the All-England Club. NBC must be having a ball covering all this action!

NBC’s high quality tennis coverage.

False. In fact, a quick analysis of their coverage would have you believe that Derek Jeter is the Wimbledon semifinalist and the tournament is actually happening under the Empire State Building. After fifteen minutes of adrenaline-fueled, totally relevant baseball action (and about 13 commercials), it appears that the graphics production staff at NBC finally discovered the wonders of Photoshop (!). Given a national stage on which to show off their picture-altering skills, they thus decided to waste the viewers’ time with five minutes—five minutes!—of cutesy vignettes of Big Ben (which, for the uninitiated, is NOT in Wimbledon, England) and Maria Sharapova (who was eliminated last week) in a childish display of “look at what I can do!” normally reserved for kindergarten art classes.

OMG, NBC! Look! I can use Photoshop, too!!!!!

Only after this excruciating masturbatory torture—during which Gasquet dropped a set in an exciting tiebreak no one ever saw— do the powers-that-be seem to walk in on the coverage fiasco and force the morons in the control room to actually, you know, play tennis on the TV. Once again, while the average tennis fan would expect NBC to cover live matches that people care about, they let down the public with a replay of a Venus Williams match from this morning that everyone already saw about an hour ago. So much for knowing who’s into the men’s round of 16!

Perhaps I am incorrect in suggesting this, being the untrendy old-school fan that I am, but no tennis fan could possibly tune in to Wimbledon coverage to watch Photoshop doodles of losing players for segments on end, only to be rewarded with baseball and hockey coverage and the occasional rerun. Incompetence is not exclusive to NBC; ESPN’s utterly incomprehensible score display, where it is impossible to figure out which numbers belong to which players because all the numbers are displayed horizontally. ESPN also has the unfathomable assumption that fans care about Britain’s scruffy, overrated imitation of Andy Roddick—Andy Murray—and allowed their absent-minded commentators to wax poetic about Murray’s appreciation for Floyd Mayweather. But, hey, at least ESPN played something resembling live tennis coverage and made an attempt to cover all the matches equally.

Sorry, ESPN, nobody cares.

NBC, your ratings won’t suffer the consequences of your total disregard for viewer pleasure because you’ve got exclusive rights. But at least leave the sadistic tendencies at home next time you present us with sports coverage. It would be nice to watch live tennis when promised it, especially during such a prestigious tournament


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