A Rant on NBC's (Lack of) Tennis Coverage

Donald FincherAnalyst IJune 5, 2009

PARIS - JUNE 05:  Roger Federer of Switzerland looks on during the Men's Singles Semi Final match against Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina on day thirteen of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 5, 2009 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Is there any wonder why NBC is dead last in the ratings among networks (not counting CW)?  CBS, Fox, and ABC are all kicking NBC's butt, and their sports division is dragging behind too.

Today's tennis "broadcast" was the latest example of why this is true.  As I was setting my DVR last night, I asked myself "why are they coming on at 10am (East Coast)?  That's too late for the first match and too early for the second.

Well, it appears that I was more astute than the morons running NBC.  Sure enough, the 1st match went 5 sets and caused the Federer match to not start until an hour into NBC's 3 hour window.  That meant that they would have to fill an hour of dead air and that they would cut into their soap operas (what a shame, huh?).

So, NBC doesn't give us a live match at all.  They give us a tape delayed version of the match fewer people wanted to see.  What brilliance!

The North American market is a fickle tv viewing market.  When there is an American playing, that's who we (the collective viewing public) wants to see.  But, that wasn't the case today.  Given who was playing, this market would much rather have seen Roger Federer.  People know and like Roger and Del Potro is ranked top five.  The other match was inferior from a viewer demand perspective.

But NBC has contracts to run so many Tide commercials every day to the housewives that are sitting on their couches watching the soaps while folding their laundry that they just couldn't run over their time slot.

Realistically, they should have scheduled this to start at 11:00 to catch the Federer/Del Potro match and skipped Days of Our Lives.  I'm sure the soap opera fanatics would have gotten over it somehow.  After all, don't they have to live every Saturday and Sunday without getting their hit.  And what about those awful days when there's real news happening in the world.  Don't they have to abandon the fictitious characters whom they vicariously live their own lives through on those days too?  Or is this too much of an inconvenience to break programming anymore and they just leave that to the CNNs and Fox News of the world?

I used to have a pastor that said that soap operas are where you can see every sin known to man committed in an hours viewing time.  Well, NBC managed to one up even that.  They have pissed off the entire North American tennis viewing public.

ESPN has already taken a bigger chunk of tennis programming than it ever has.  And, if others think similarly as I do, they've done a decent job with the coverage.  I for one will be actively pulling to see them completely take over tennis.  Then I suppose we won't have to bother the ones who are so worried they are going to miss the day when their favorite character comes out of his coma only to find that his wife has gotten a sex change and ran off with the mailman.