You may remember Real Tweets from Real People examining the incredulous reaction from college basketball fans on Twitter voicing their displeasure with ESPN's ridiculous overhead camera at the Kentucky-Mississippi State basketball game last week. The overhead camera was one of many broadcast innovations and new tricks that the self-proclaimed "worldwide leader" employed throughout the week on its college basketball broadcasts. Among the changes made to ESPN's telecasts were...
*Isolated coach cameras on Frank Martin of Kansas State and Bill Self of Kansas during their Big Monday showdown.
*Analysts Jay Bilas and Bill Raftery on opposite ends of the court for West Virginia-Syracuse.
*SkyCam (above) being the primary camera for the Kentucky-Mississippi State game.
*Referee Jim Burr being mic'd up for the Ohio State-Michigan State game.
*Doug Gottlieb going to the production truck to announce for part of the Missouri-Texas A&M game.
*An isolation cam on Duke's Nolan Smith while the Blue Devils were hosting Boston College.
Some of these ideas were intriguing, some pointless, and others exceedingly annoying. I bring this back to our attention this morning because I came across an interesting quote from ESPN Executive VP Norby Williamson tucked away in Michael Hiestand's excellent USA Today sports media column...
ESPN executive vice president Norby Williamson admitted, "You don't always get things perfect at first." He said he liked elements of the shots focused on players. But he said he wasn't fazed by criticism of the novelties: "You always get negative reaction to change."
Is it really a surprise to see this sort of flippant reaction from an ESPN executive? I'm sure if everyone loved SkyCam instead of despising it, then ESPN would be beating its chest like King Kong. The truth is you don't always get negative reaction to change. Seeing the score of games on the screen for the first time didn't bring a negative reaction. The 1st & 10 line didn't bring a negative reaction. I'm sure the change that Edison brought along didn't get a negative reaction either. (Of course I could be wrong with that) Change is good... when it's not terrible. Hopefully this quote from Williamson doesn't mean viewers will be subjected to more high school level chemistry experiments with ESPN's college basketball broadcasts. Some of the innovations, like the mic'd ref, weren't as bad as others. However, as the 2010 World Cup proved, ESPN is at their absolute best when they allow the game to speak for itself.
What do you think? Were ESPN's changes a great idea while knucklehead viewers like us just don't get it, or did ESPN botch their broadcasts for a week just because they could? We want to hear from you. What are the best and worst sports broadcast innovations? Send us your suggestions and we'll have a list put together in the near future.