Sunday, May 13, 2001

Sports on TV-Radio

Good work, America: XFL is dead

By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Congratulations. You, the American viewer, did in one of the worst experiments in sports television history in four months.

        The XFL died quietly Thursday from a lack of interest.

        A sucker may be born every minute, but apparently not all of them are interested in watching bad football.

        The XFL went from drawing a 9.5 rating on NBC for its Feb. 3 debut to drawing a 1.6 rating for its March 17 games. That's the lowest-rated prime-time network rating in history. The test pattern will pull a 1.0.

        “The launch worked. The people were there, and we didn't answer the expectations, I guess,” NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol said. “Bottom line, we didn't deliver what they wanted to see.”

        XFL didn't deliver on any of its promises. The football wasn't good. The rules changes didn't change anything. The television production was ordinary. The announcers were awful. And the players had no personality.

        The lasting memory of the league will be the player with “He Hate Me” on the back of his jersey.

        NBC and the WWF reportedly lost $35 million each finding out that made-for-TV sports went out with Superstars in the 1970s.

        You have to have a good product first, something worthy of televising, before you put it on a network.

        The other lesson is that television is so saturated with sports right now that you have be outstanding to draw ratings.

        The only outstanding thing about the XFL was how bad it was.

        DEFINE EXCLUSIVE: The day before Thad Matta was hired as Xavier basketball coach, Channel 12 ran an interview with him with the “exclusive” logo. True, 12 was the only local station that had the interview, but it was done by an Indianapolis station. An exclusive would indicate 12 got the interview alone, not that it ran what an Indianapolis station got.

        That's like the Enquirer running a story from another paper and calling it an exclusive.

        The Thursday Matta was actually named, 12 was claiming to be the only Cincinnati station to report Wednesday that Matta had the job.

        Not true. Every station had the story Wednesday.

        Channel 12 plays fast and loose with the terms “exclusive” and “first.”

        NEW VIEW: Tonight when ESPN airs the Reds-Houston Astros game, the network will use its latest innovation, “Dead Center Camera.”

        “The camera is directly behind the pitcher,” said ESPN spokesman Dave Nagle, “rather than 30 or 40 feet off to the left or right. It gives you a realistic view of the movement on the pitch.

        “People love it.”

        It wasn't easy to get the camera where it had to be at Cinergy.

        ESPN used a 60-foot “snorkel lift” to get the camera above the 40-foot batter's eye in center. The lift had to be set up behind the new flood wall for Great American Ball Park.

        GOOD MOVE: WCKY-AM (1360) has started running locally produced sports updates during its talk shows.

        It's about time. The reports it had been using came out of San Diego.

        HOMER often mistakenly ran old reports. Even when it ran the right ones, they were weak.

        The local reports greatly improve the station.

        WATCH YOURSELF: Channel 9 will rerun its coverage of the Flying Pig Marathon from 1 to 4 p.m. today.



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