Friday, March 21, 2014

CBS, NCAA & Madison Avenue: Doing Their Best To Ruin The Greatest Sporting Event On Earth

I like capitalism. I like competition. I believe in free enterprise. Heck, I studied marketing in college and I even like television commercials, if they're creative. But this is ridiculous. March Madness, the greatest event in all of sports, has finally lived up to its name. The beloved college basketball tournament has become almost unwatchable thanks to the NCAA, CBS and Madison Avenue. It's de-evolved into an insane and relentless barrage of breaks in the action to drop in more 30-second commercials. And that becomes increasingly annoying as March Madness, um, marches on. 

After watching three games yesterday, my inner curmudgeon shouted in my ear, "Jamie, what the hell is up with these games? They last more than 30 minutes longer than regular-season games, just so they can squeeze in extra ads. It ain't right!"

I usually ignore my inner curmudgeon. He's obnoxious and irrational. But I have to agree with him on this one. 

March Madness, indeed.

All the extra ads have become a real distraction. Kinda like all these commercial logos I've strategically placed on this news blog. See them! Like them! Know them! Be them! Auuggghhhh!! 

This is the first time I've ever had an issue with this tournament, which has been my favorite event in sports since I was eight years old. I still love this sport and always will, but the saturation of commerciality has made the games just a little less enjoyable. I feel like Charlie Brown as he watched his loyal dog Snoopy "go commercial" at Christmas! 

Am I becoming more of a grouch as I get older? Probably. Will I continue to watch as many of these games during March (and April) as I possibly can despite my whining? Definitely. And therein lies the problem. CBS, the NCAA and Madison Avenue all know this. They have us basketball fans by the you-know-what's. Isn't that gouging...  or something?!

The game itself is still 40 minutes long during tourny time. That doesn't change. But everything else is painfully stretched. The NCAA's David Worlock told AP recently that timeouts and halftimes are both longer during the tournament. Halftime lasts 20 minutes, which is 5 minutes longer than most regular-season breaks. The TV timeouts after each 4 minutes of play will last 2 minutes and 30 seconds, which is roughly a three-minute break by the time the players get back on the court. Ugh. On top of that, each team gets five timeouts -- same as the regular season. But they all last longer. Gotta sell more trucks, credit cards, chicken wings and beer!! 
This of course allows CBS to pack in a ton of extra spots and make a ton of extra cash. And the difference for the viewer is immediately noticeable -- at least it is to me and my inner curmudgeon, who's decided to sit the rest of this tournament out and just "do some damn yardwork!"

What makes all this even more annoying is the fact that the same commercials sometimes run over and over and over during the course of a game. Most people don't seem to be as grouchy about this as my inner curmudgeon, who loses his marbles when the same Bud Light commercial comes on for the fifth time. I guess you guys don't mind watching a Buffalo Wild commercial 734 times. But my inner curmudgeon can't really be the only one who's annoyed by this, can he? 

It seems to me that the advertising strategy by the marketing folks at Company X have employed of buying ad time during March Madness because they know they can hit their target market repeatedly could easily backfire. I personally believe that commercials repeated over and over can alienate viewers and make us NOT want to buy whatever they are selling. I would think that Company X doesn't want fans like me to take off my shoes and throw them at the TV because I've seen the same commercial one too many times. Unless it's an ad for a new HD television.

And the viewing experience for college basketball during the tournament is even worse when you are the game. I've been to plenty. Trust me. As writer Matt Yoder hilariously pointed out recently, "Every time the game begins to develop a rhythm, it's brought to a screeching halt by a TV or coach's timeout. It's brutal. By the fourth TV timeout, you've run out of conversation with your pal and left to hopelessly try to tap into the arena's severely overloaded WiFi to check Twitter or e-mail or Words With Friends. It's perhaps the worst in-stadium experience in sports if you're not a drunk college student. There's only so many times you can be entertained by the dance team and cheerleaders passing out pizza boxes to people sitting courtside."

And I haven't even touched on the fact that while all these entities are making millions and millions of dollars, the people who are generating all of these riches - the athletes - do not get to participate. That's another issue, but it is directly related. It's all about money, not the fans or even the players.  

As my inner curmudgeon was desperately trying to tell me last night, nobody cares about the players or us viewers! They only care about our wallets and purses. Does CBS care that all these ridiculously long breaks are compromising the game itself? Heck, no. They're making gazillions during March Madness. And the fact is, none of us ever complains. 

Maybe we all need to bring our inner curmudgeons out of the garage and start complaining. What do you say we rise up and take our beloved game back? Are you with me? OK, great. But, um, can we do it after the game? Pass the Bud Light! 


  1. Jamie:

    I do understand what you are saying and I have a certain amount of sympathy for you. However, a much greater disaster happened earlier today that I wish you would have devoted a few words to. This disaster is on par with the Russians taking control of the Crimea. America's team, the Duke Blue Devils, royalty of American college basketball, was knocked off by Mercer. Who the hell is Mercer? Where in the world can any true Duke fan put this? How do we get past it and move on with our lives? Any words of wisdom on a true tragedy? Commercials, even repeats, pale in comparison to this real life altering event. Perhaps you can devote some space to this body blow to the American psyche next time, okay?

    Best regards,
    John (should be on suicide watch) Cook

    1. john, you have my sympathies. this tournament has already become the most unpredictable in recent history. so many upsets in the first couple of rounds. you've been subjected to the double indignity of having to watch a half hour's worth of extra commercials as your duke blue devils were losing that game!

    2. John, you must be freaking out, Duke was knocked off again this weekend! :)

  2. Your inner curmudgeon is right on the $ -- so to speak :) Greed & Capitalism! Can we just watch the game please!

  3. There is certainly practically a full week March Madness of action before the NCAA tournament

    announces the field on Selection Saturday. But even though that

    won't happen until Mar 12, March Madness

    it's simple enough to project the four Little.

    1 seeds in Drive Madness.

    The four top seeds should be March Madness Live Stream

    guarding national champion Villanova, North Carolina, Kansas and

    Gonzaga. Those four have recently been at the top of the rankings and also have also been the selections of bracketologists March Madness Bracket like ESPN's Later on

    Lunardi and March Madness 2017 s Jerry Palm, and it will be a surprise if they didn't emerge at the conclusion of the

    meeting tournaments that will be held at throughout the week.

    Villanova (28-3, 15-3 Big East) has put together a sensational season after beating New you are

    able to in last year's March Madness 2017 Live

    nationwide title game. Head instructor Jay Wright has stored his foot on the gas pedal, and the Wildcats have continued to produce on a regular most basic. NCAA March Madness

    Villanova is the Little. 1 seed in the Big East tournament 2017 March Madness , and while that league has regularly

    produced upsets in the conference tournament, it would be somewhat of a shocker if the Wildcats

    didn't make it to it game. If perhaps they face second-seeded

    Retainer, it could be a good game that should go down to the line

    because Butler has outdone Villanova twice. Whether it is any other Big East team, the Wildcats would be a significant