Monday, June 11, 2007

Sportscasting and RBDS

Recently I had a chance to catch a Sox game on their Rhode Island outlet, 103.7 WEEI-FM. Interestingly, I thought the audio quality was "better" on their Boston AM outlets...680 WRKO-AM and 850 WEEI-AM...but the real nice thing is that WEEI-FM uses RDS to show what the score is and what inning it is.

I can't speak for other baseball teams, but the Sox announcers have a pathological aversion to announcing the score and the inning as part of their play-by-play commentary. Pretty much the only time you hear it is at the beginning and end of each inning...which could be a long time to listen depending on how good/bad the pitchers are that day. Drives me absolutely bonkers when I just want a quick update as to what the blankety-blank score is!

I've long suspected this is's a clever way to get people listening to become invested in listening. They sit there, waiting for the score, long enough to interrupt whatever else they were doing...and that means they're more likely to listen during the commercial breaks.

Still drives me bonkers, though. And the RDS provides some nice relief from that.

But I this age of multiple "data streams" hitting us media consumers all at once (just tune to any cable news TV channel and there's a talking head, a powerpoint slide, an animated graphic, and at least one news crawler at the bottom of the screen) I wonder if the style of game announcing will suddenly and radically change as the "old school" sportscasters retire and the newer breed fills their shoes. With a new mandate from corporate, no doubt.

I'd be curious to see if there's an actual strategy for a "new way" to announce sports games being formulated as we speak by program directors at sports stations.

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