NESN

Questioning Priorities…Again

As a journalist and editor of SMJ I respect the right media organizations have in making decisions over which content will be published or broadcast.  It doesn’t I can’t question those editorial decisions.

Case in point, what viewers of the New England Sports Network (NESN) will be facing tonight.

NESN has the television rights for both the Boston Red Sox and Boston Bruins.  They have been ahead of the curve in providing HD coverage of both teams (home and away) for a couple of years now.  When both teams are playing on the same night, one gets the HD coverage on NESN while the other gets telecast on a regional sports channel (not in HD) called NESNPlus.  It’s not the best of situations but one which should satisfy fans of both teams.

This scenario has come up twice over the past week as the Bruins battled the Canadiens in the NHL Playoffs and the Red Sox began its 2008 regular season. In those two instances NESN made the correct choice in deciding which game would be showcased on the HD mother-ship while the other was sent to NESNPlus.  The Bruins playoff game received the priority both times.

But for some reason NESN has changed its tune for tonight’s conflict.  NESN will be showing tonight’s Sox/Yankees game in HD on NESN while relegating the Bruins/Canadiens Game 5 (with elimination on the line for the B’s) to NESNPlus.  How can NESN justify this move? 

We all understand that New England is Red Sox Nation and this is Yankees/Red Sox.  But the Bruins are in the PLAYOFFS, in a game they must win or go home.  The Sox and Yankees will still play 13 more games this season. 

This makes no editorial sense to me.  Oh wait…I forgot it’s not about what’s the bigger story…it’s about money.  More eyes for Red Sox/Yankess than Bruins/Canadiens.  How silly of me. 

NESN has the right to make the switch.  However it doesn’t make it right.

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We’re Talking About Practice!

Last week I posted the story about how the New England Sports Network (NESN) is providing live coverage of Spring Training workouts of the Boston Red Sox. Living in New England and having access to NESN, I thought I would check in with the coverage to see what it was all about.

I’m a baseball nut, as are most sports fans in Red Sox Nation. Despite the success of other pro sports franchises in the region, New England is still a baseball haven first. So it was natural for NESN to take advantage of this fanaticism by providing coverage of the team literally from the get go. It helps that NESN is the sole local television play-by-play entity of the defending World Champions. And oh yeah, they’re partially owned by the Red Sox.

NESN’s telecast consisted of two hours of LIVE coverage from the team’s Spring Training facility in Fort Myers, FL. These live feeds took place in the morning during the team’s normal workout schedule. The program was rebroadcast several times throughout the day to accommodate many audiences.

You’d think that two hours of players stretching, running, and throwing would not make for intriguing television. And you’d be right. But NESN rarely showed much of the players working out. Instead they used the time to preview this year’s club by interviewing members of the media who cover the team. The network has a partnership with the Boston Globe so much of the time was taken up by scribes of the Beantown sheet.

NESN was able to secure interviews with players as they made their way to and from the fields of play. Sox front office personnel also made their way to the NESN stage.

The network coverage was buoyed by camera placements across the five fields at the training complex. If something of interest took place in the complex, NESN had a way to show it to the fans back home.

Overall I thought the coverage was well done. I like the fact that the network decided to create original local content at a time of the day when it generally runs infomercials or replays of classic Sox or Bruins games. NESN also never missed a beat in promoting their pre-season Sox telecast schedule as well as hyping opening day, which for Boston is March 25th against Oakland in Japan. FYI, coverage on NESN begins at 5am ET…

Obviously the NESN coverage would not work well in most cities with MLB franchises. But in snowbound New England, any programming featuring the Old Towne Team is always welcome.

Coverage You’ll Only See in Beantown

With the near perfection of the Patriots and the Celtics with the best record in the NBA, fans in Boston are definitely spoiled right now. But Boston will always be, first and foremost, a baseball town. Here’s the proof.

The New England Sports Network (NESN), the exclusive local television play-by-play outlet for the World Champion Boston Red Sox, will devote two hours of LIVE coverage today to the Sox pitchers and catchers practicing. That’s right…two full hours of guys throwing baseballs!

NESN will also weave in interviews with players, coaches, and front office management during its coverage. But it’s focus will be on practice.

NESN will also telecast live workouts when the full squad reports later next week.

Being a follower of the team and knowing its fan base…be assured that NESN will get some solid ratings from this. Only in Boston.

Photo Courtesy of the Boston Globe