Saturday, January 29, 2011

ESPN's TV audience misses Harrison Barnes' coming out party

In North Carolina's 84-64 win over N.C. State, Harrison Barnes had a coming-out party of sorts, especially in the first few minutes. Too bad ESPN didn't show it.

Barnes, who scored 25 points, hit his first four shots of the game to lead Carolina out to a 13-2 advantage. Barnes has had some clutch shooting at the end of games but he hasn't started (and maintained) solid play until this game.

Unfortunately, ESPN decided that people who tuned in to watch the North Carolina vs. N.C. State game would rather be treated to a portion - A LIVE LOOK-IN they call it - of an overtime game between Louisville and UConn.

The Tar Heels game was already in progress thanks to an overtime game between Georgetown and Villanova, which one or the other eventually won. The Heels were up 7-2, two minutes into the game when the Georgetown-Villanova game ended.

ESPN decided they would do a full one-minute wrap-up of that game and then send viewers to the LIVE LOOK-IN of Louisville and UConn instead of immediately switching to the Carolina game which they had advertised to viewers as coming on at 2 p.m. If you tuned in to watch the Carolina-State game right at 2 p.m., you got to start watching it more than 16 minutes later.

By the way, when ESPN decided to switch to the Carolina game, not only was the score 13-2 and Barnes had his best start this season, but the game they had given us a LIVE LOOK-IN of was tied at 69 - nothing had been determined. So, we watched nothing be determined in a game we weren't supposed to be watching while certainly the tone for the game we were supposed to be watching was determined.

Was there one Louisville or UConn fan in the country - or even basketball fan in the country - tuning in to the UNC-N.C. State game with hopes of getting a sliver of the Louisville-UConn game?

ESPN has gotten too big for its britches. They have too much power with no consequences for their foolish decisions. I've said it a dozen times but if you are scheduling two games back-to-back, you've got to give more than two hours for the first game to be completed. If you have a 12 noon game, your next game should not be scheduled to start before 2:30.

Further, if you advertise that you are showing the Carolina-N.C. State game, then by God you should show the Carolina-N.C. State game. If I wanted to watch Big East basketball, I would buy the Big East package or I would go to a sports bar or I'd friggin' move out of ACC country.

If ESPN doesn't have the technology to allow people in the ACC viewing area to actually watch entire ACC basketball games, then they should allow the ACC Network to also air ACC matchups. In other words, the Carolina-State game would have also been on WRAL in Raleigh for instance.

It's really past time for someone to reign in the influence and power ESPN has - they aren't good stewards of it.

For more on the N.C. State game itself and more commentary on ESPN, please click here.

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