View Full Version : 8 Simple Rules For Doing My Grand Slam Telecast

Brian Stewart
Feb 13th, 2003, 11:38 PM
All this talk about Grand Slam TV coverage has got me thinking about some of the things I don't like about the way the various networks do it. So, "inspired by" the title of a sitcom, off the top of my head, here are 8 simple rules to make these telecasts better. (We could probably come up with about 80 if we put our minds to it.)

1. No airing of interviews, especially from the practice courts, while there is still live tennis going on.

2. A more even split of the airtime between men's and women's matches, especially during week one. An 80/20 split is not even.

3. During the first week, no best-of-5 match shall be joined before the 3rd set. If the match is one sided, it saves us an hour or more of tedium. If it's close, then we'd be in time to catch the important part of the match.

4. Variety is the spice of life. During the first week, show us a lot of different players in action on a lot of different courts, so it feels like a big event and not just a regular tourney. This should include significant coverage of each match featuring one of the top 8 seeds and, if they're going for the nationalistic approach, all of the American seeds as well. And there should be extensive highlights of ALL seeded players in action.

5. If they're going to show a lower-ranked American male player in action, they have to show all of the American women who are ranked higher than he is. And not just quickie highlights either.

6. Frequent score updates of all ongoing matches. Don't ignore these because they don't want us to know there's a more interesting match going on at a different court.

7. Prospective announcers have to take a basic quiz to show they know what is happening on the tours. If they fail, they can't announce matches involving players from that tour.

8. Learn how to pronounce the players' names! If you don't know, ask. Get someone down there to ask how to pronounce the name of each and every player in the field, and prepare a guide for the announcers. There was a guy who worked for the old Prime Network named Lou Palmer. He was one of those all-purpose announcers who did whatever sport the network assigned him to. When he got a tennis job, he ran into some tricky names. So he would, *gasp*, go up to the players beforehand and ask them how to pronounce their names. That way, he at least got reasonably close. That's respect. It's bad enough current tennis announcers butcher names on the tours they allegedly follow. But some do it with an air of disdain, as if to say "who cares?" We cares. :) And I'm sure the players do too. Is it too much to ask that the announcers do as well?

There's my basic 8 rules. If I had a #9 right now, it would be to verify facts before they blurt something out on air. And #9a would be to wire up the announcers' chairs, and hand me a remote operating unit, so that when they get information wrong, I could push a button and zap them.

What are your rules? :D

Feb 13th, 2003, 11:46 PM
I think 2 and 4 are the most important. And if you are showing women's matches in the 1st round, Patty Schnyder vs Dinara Safina is a better choice than Serena Williams vs Christina Wheeler.

Feb 13th, 2003, 11:47 PM
what i don't like is when in the first week they show all the big names so you do get to see lower ranked players unless they are playing someone like serena or venus.

Feb 14th, 2003, 12:11 AM
I'm dreaming, but...
1. When there is an interesting live match happening, SHOW IT! Yes, ESPN, I'm talking to you. When #1 men's player Lleyton Hewitt is battling for his life, don't show a taped match of Venus Williams double-bagelling someone.
2. Show EVERYTHING live.
3. When there is an interesting match that gets missed, show it on tape delay when there is no live tennis happening.
4. When all of a sudden after a rain delay there are ten interesting matches happening, get it broadcast onto ten different channels! And if this is not possible, see Rule #3.
5. SHOW MORE MATCHES WHEN NO AMERICANS ARE PLAYING. Especially when they're both in the top ten and the Americans aren't.
6. Copy TNT's broadcasting team. With Mary Carillo's wit, Martina Navratilova's expertise, Jim Courier's closeted gay locker room stories and Marv Albert's 'biting' commentary, you've got a winning team.
7. Get rid of commercials (I am dreaming, after all).
8. When the day's lineup features matches such as Sampras-Safin, Williams-Pierce, Agassi-Kucera, Rafter-Ivanisevic and ASV-Kournikova and there are violent thundershowers in the forecast, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DON'T LET THE TOURNAMENT ORGANIZERS PUT A TWO AND A HALF HOUR MATCH BETWEEN CONCHITA MARTINEZ AND AMANDA COETZER ON THE MAIN COURT BEFORE ANYONE ELSE PLAYS!!! (this happened on Labour Day at the US Open in 1998)

Feb 14th, 2003, 12:14 AM
Heh...for #8, you just need a commentator who bothers to read the atp and wta player guides...they even tell you syllable by syllable how to pronounce the names so theres really no excuse

Feb 14th, 2003, 06:10 AM
1. Learn which sister is Venus and which one is Serena (shouldn't be too hard).
2. Less of Andre Agassi. (Come on, there has to be something better going on than him winning a match 6-1, 6-0, 6-0.)
3. At least one in-depth profile of a young, up-and-coming player from each tour. Give us someone to look forward to watching in future years.
4. At least one in-depth profile of a veteran nearing retirement. Show us you care -- because if you don't, then why should we?
5. At least one in-depth profile of a top ten player on each tour -- preferably the one who no one outside of the people on this board have never heard of. Let us get to know these personalities -- include it in your TV contracts with the ITF and the ATP and WTA if you have to.
6. More Bud Collins. He only seems to get air time once or twice a year, but his knowledge of the sport would put some of these commentators to shame. And I'll bet he could pronounce the players' names right.
7. Brian Stewart's #9 and #9a. Only I get to zap the commentators, too.
8. Don't try to show tape-delayed coverage like it's live. At Wimbledon last year, I watched the Capriati/Mauresmo match on NBC, and they went into a rain delay. I turned to TNT, and found out that it had stopped raining and Mauresmo had won. On NBC, they were still in a rain delay. Needless to say, I didn't watch NBC anymore that week until the finals.
9. Get some fans together and see what would make them tune into tennis. If you use their idea, give them free tickets and expenses to the Slam you're covering and introduce them to as many top players as possible. Help them get autographs. Have the tours threaten to fine the players if they don't take part. Reward fans for their loyalty to the sport. (Repeat at each Slam you broadcast for this to be truly successful.)

Feb 14th, 2003, 06:41 AM
Oddly enough, your "dream list" Brian, is a lot like TNT. Because TNT has coverage BEYOND live coverage at Wimbledon--week one, we see every match, almost.

Feb 14th, 2003, 08:00 AM
This one is just for TNT, please stop interrupting the telecast and showing commericials incessantly for NASCAR and for stupid made-for-tv movies that no one is going to see, like "Mists of Avalon" !!!!!.

Feb 14th, 2003, 08:18 AM
Originally posted by Brian Stewart

3. During the first week, no best-of-5 match shall be joined before the 3rd set. If the match is one sided, it saves us an hour or more of tedium. If it's close, then we'd be in time to catch the important part of the match.

I have to agree wholeheartedly with this one!

I'm not going to write my 8 rules, they'd be no different from what has already been said here ;)

Crazy Canuck
Feb 14th, 2003, 08:21 AM
Not showing taped tennis when there are LIVE semifinals going on would be nice (especially when it's 3am and nobody is watching anyhow :rolleyes:)

I think that joining mens matches half way through is a terrible idea. If you are going to give men the short end of the bargain like that, the women should get it too.

Thankfully these are just opinions ;)

Dawn Marie
Feb 14th, 2003, 08:28 AM
1. DO NOT and I repeat DO NOT!! show any tape delay MEN'S/ATP TOUR matches during many interesting LIVE WTA matches that are going on around the grounds!!! This royally pisses me off. A great match can be 7/6 4/6 7/6 LIVE and networks will show a TAPED match that just ended on the computer with the score being 6/3 6/1 6/0 AGASSI! grrrrr:)

2. OUT OF RESPECT FOR THE FANS FROM EVERY COUNTRY AND PLACE IN THE WORLD. BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY! SHOW THE ENTIRE CEREMONY AFTER THE FINALS OF ALL TOURNEYS!!! Fans like to see their players hold up the winners trophy! LET US ENJOY OUR FAVORITES SPEECHES!! Sheesh it's like pulling the plug on a movie 10 minutes before it is over! Who likes that? Grrrr:)

3. Show many, many, more players that are not American!! I have yet to see Angie Widjaja play!! Think outside the box!!


5. If she wants the job please hire CHANDA RUBIN for ALL MAJOR NETWORKS! She is a natural at it.

My others are Brian's #1-9a:)

Crazy Canuck
Feb 14th, 2003, 08:30 AM
1. DO NOT and I repeat DO NOT!! show any tape delay MEN'S/ATP TOUR matches during many interesting LIVE WTA matches that are going on around the grounds!!!

Agreed. And vice versa would be nice as well.

LIke this year when instead of showing one of the mens quarter (I might be mixing up my days here, but I'm certain that it was "the match of the year" Roddick vs Younes), they decided to show the womens semis in tape delay. That is, womens semis that had already been shown earlier that evening.

Feb 14th, 2003, 08:36 AM
LOL Rebecca
Yeah I guess it's not fair joining just mens' matches halfway through...but I stick by my agreement with it, every men's match they show here in the early rounds usually consists of a guy named Agassi and a score of something like 0, 1, and 1....please, please could they show someone else in a more competitive match, man or woman :P
And would TV stations stop insisting on cutting short matches or using the tape delay function, when it's like midnight. I mean who cares at that hour if the match goes over it's alloted time. For that matter (ESPN please listen ;) ) I dont' see why they can't film more coverage and a broader range of matches and play them late at night. I mean, who's going to watch Sportscentre 7 or 8 times in a row in the middle of the night? Yeah I'm sure there's great ratings for that. Surely it wouldnt' hurt them to throw some extra coverage in at those hours :D

Dawn Marie
Feb 14th, 2003, 08:37 AM
When it comes to NETWORKS(the good ole boy networks that is) I just don't care at this moment about the ATP being aired. The WTA has way too much to catch up on. If it weren't for Venus and Serena and Jen and Anna. We would not get hardly any WTA coverage at all. They already show so much of the ATP tour and not enough of the WTA as it is. It is 80/20 like Brian stated and that leaves no room to care about the ATP at the moment. :)

Crazy Canuck
Feb 14th, 2003, 09:00 AM
LOL Rebecca
Yeah I guess it's not fair joining just mens' matches halfway through...but I stick by my agreement with it, every men's match they show here in the early rounds usually consists of a guy named Agassi and a score of something like 0, 1, and 1....please, please could they show someone else in a more competitive match, man or woman :P

You hit the problem on the head here - it's not them showing ATP matches that is the problem. It's them showing ANDRE matches that is the problem. If instead of showing every point of every single one of his matches, they just showed highlights of some of them, and would actually show *good* matches that are going on - atp or wta - it would be fine.

But people are pissing and moaning "oh too much atp oh boo hoo" - well that isn't even the case. ATP fans bitch too, because the ATP coverage that they DO show is absolute crap.

They need to show a broader range of matches, to show what is going to be "the match of the day" as opposed all of the painful Agassi vs Lee affair, or Mardy Fish having a brat attack vs Wayne Ferreira.

I'm all for equality of coverage, but I don't think that is what some of you are calling for. By asking them not to show full mens matches, you are indicating that ATP coverage should be totally neglected compared to WTA coverage. That is NOT equality, it's hypocracy.

Dawn Marie
Feb 14th, 2003, 09:22 AM
Rebecca, the networks still show alot of the and I mean ALOT more ATP then the WTA. Agassi,Lleyton,Safin,Pete,Roddick,Haas,Mardy,Blake (some low ranked player). These networks do show too much ATP. Just imagine if V,S,J and Anna didn't play. Omg we would get elzero coverage. Notice the only non American in my list is Anna. It is 80/20. I think I only saw one LIVE match of Venus during the OZ Open coverage, and like that is compared to how many of Agassi's and Roddicks matches? I don't care if they show full men's matches at all, just as long as the time is (equally shared). THE WTA should not suffer because ESPN wishes to air a 3 and a half hour men's match. Hell that is like 2 or 3 women's matches. Networks continually show alot more of the men then they do of the women. I say ENOUGH!

Feb 14th, 2003, 10:02 AM
Don’t you have any ‘interactive’ tournaments on TV in the USA?

In the UK at Wimbledon (broadcast by the BBC) and at the US Open (broadcast by Sky) if you have digital TV you can literally choose between 5 matches, get up-to-date scores when you want them. It is an amazing service. The downsides to this is because of the sheer variety available you sometimes get the worst no-name commentators or no commentator at all (watching tennis without commentary just does not agree with me – things are too quiet!!) and sometimes on the outside courts the camera angles are a bit ‘funky’ if you know what I mean. Of course when there is a match that you really, really want to see it is not one of the 5 but hey, that’s life baby!

As a result I can honestly say that BBC digital broadcast of Wimbledon is THE BEST!

Feb 14th, 2003, 10:24 AM
I have to agree with Andre being shown too much. The Aus Open was a wonderful example of that. It got to the point where I wished either Andre or Roddick would lose so I could watch someone else!

On the WTA side they shouldn't show Serena or Venus in the early rounds cause it's usually the same story as with Andre..they are most likely gonna destroy their opponents. On the other hand maybe they show those matches cause they only take like a hour ;)

I'm tired of watching only American's :( but hey it's their coverage.

Feb 14th, 2003, 10:36 AM
I agree but I would have to say that men's best of five can be shown in entirety from the quarters on...

Feb 14th, 2003, 10:47 AM
I'm not gonna post all my rules cuz they would basically just be the same as everybody else's but I think the two most important would be

1) No tape delayed matches when there are live matches going on

2) Realize that not only Americans play tennis :eek: :rolleyes: I know, it's their coverage, but be a bit more coverage.... who wants to see a doubel bagel or a 1,0,2 match when other top tenners are playing good quality close matches? And couple that with the fact that Venus, Serena and Andre are more than likely going to be around til the end of the tournament :(

Feb 14th, 2003, 12:11 PM
I would say show more womens tennis and show a variety of players, not just the ones from our own country.

Feb 14th, 2003, 01:07 PM
Brian: E-mail this line to the organizers.

"During the first week, show us a lot of different players in action on a lot of different courts, so it feels like a big event and not just a regular tourney."

If the organizers help push for this, it would help sell tickets, especially in future years. The local ads for single-day and first week tickets could be promoted with the same material. If it sells ticket, it increases viewship, too. Playing up the international aspect will show that this is an opportunity that you don't get a lot.

The best in the world are arriving! "Russia, Greece, Germany, France…"
The best in the world are playing! "Russia,…

#1 is out of the question. Brian, without the interviews, even pulling away from matches, the casual viewers (most viewers) don't get involved in what they just flipped to. They won't stay if they don't get emotionally involved. Without that, you won't get more coverage.

They actually need to throw in more clips that promote fierceness, choking, frustration, cunning, etc. Racquet-throwing, racquet-bashing, a silent montage of oaths. Jen and Lindsay–that'll cover it! Arguments with umpires. Sly looks in preparing to serve. (They're there.) Lindsay's three long, blinks waiting for serve when the goings have gotten tough. There are so many moments that people would start to look for. They have to be prompted to look for that, though. They need to sneak in a lot of background so more people are curious enough to watch long enough to notice things.

#9. Inside story or jealous put-down? If someone tries to pass one off as the other—well, I want a zapper, too. When someone who I won't name even says "Martina Hingis" then I'm going to zap.

Feb 14th, 2003, 01:35 PM
there are great ideas.
I honestly think someone (not me) should let the networks know. especially ESPN, they are the worst. they seem to view tennis coverage as filler in between their 82 hundred showings of Sports Center.

oh, and I agree, fewer promos of the Mists of Avalon!! :-)

Feb 14th, 2003, 04:36 PM
and furthermore:

- explain to your commentators that sometimes (most times) it really is better to BE QUIET. Don't let them banter over points.

- no banner ads/streamers along the bottom of the screen, they're very distracting.

Serendy Willick
Feb 14th, 2003, 04:41 PM
1. Please Jezus, stop the Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras azzkissing.

2. Tell Johnnie Mac, that he is not allowed to promote Davis Cup or whinne to switch to a mens match during a featured WTA match. If he doesnt comply tell him he has a choice not to commentate on Womens matches.

3. Show some more promnent players from around to world.

4. Fire the TV person who decided that watching a Andre Agassi beatdown of Justin Gimbelstob was more exciting than watching a fanstically competive match between Clisjsters and Mauresmo at the US open.

5. This is for the people that whinne that the Williams get too much air time in the first week. If you want to implement not showing them till the quarters than you should do this for all top players that usually cruise during the first week. I'm not particularly interested in seeing Lindsay D, and Jennifer C, stomp their opponents 6-0, 6-0 either.

6. Kick out anyone, ANYONE that flapps their gums on and on during a point. This is sooooo disrrespectful to the players :mad: :fiery:

Feb 14th, 2003, 06:32 PM
Just my quick two cents: Stop showing every ball hit by Agassi and Sampras, there's more to the ATP than Agassi and Sampras. The AO burned the hair in my ass every time they showed an Agassi match (notice we saw all seven of his matches at the AO from beginning to end). Without focusing on other matches that were going on at the time. Boring.