Last week, I actually caught some flack (not a lot, but some) for my harsh article that essentially ran down every little mistake from WWJ's broadcast of the Steelers game. Some said that I didn't seem to realize that it was WWJ's first game of the preseason and that they don't have experience covering NFL games, so mistakes were bound to happen. Others simply said "nobody's perfect" and shrugged off the mediocre coverage. And a few people even told me that I should expect a better broadcast this week.
While all of those points were fair, I did realize WWJ is inexperienced, I do have an issue with constant mistakes that are not simply accidents and one could argue that this week's broadcast of the game was even worse than what we saw against Pittsburgh. No, the feed didn't cut out entirely for part of the game, but there were so many issues throughout the night that the broadcast gets another huge thumbs down.
Every single week I'm not going to do a post bashing WWJ, as that would just be repetitive, but for those who thought I was being unfair last week, this is for you. Below are the mistakes/issues I noted from watching last night's broadcast of the game.
- The entire camera crew needs to be fired. Aside from not being able to track the ball at all on kickoffs, the cameramen could not even keep track of the ball on regular plays. Being fooled on a play-action is one thing, but numerous times the camera would either go down field when Kyle Orton still had the ball or even better, stay on Orton after he threw a pass. At least twice that happened on third down, leaving everybody wondering what the heck was going on, especially because there were penalties that were missed because the camera wasn't focused on the action. (Another example: one cameraman couldn't even shoot the moon without jerking the shot around. Completely unprofessional.)
- Sticking with the camera theme, is it too much to ask for WWJ to zoom out of their shots for a change? Every play they would just zoom in, making the shot so tight that you couldn't see plays develop or anticipate what was going to happen. Like I said last week, you should be zoomed in enough so the action isn't hard to watch, but you shouldn't be so zoomed in that it's impossible to see anything beyond who has the ball (or who the cameraman thinks has the ball, I should say).
- I know preseason games require a lot of time to fill, but the announcers need to spend more time worrying about the game and less time about random stories. Lions fans who are tuning into the preseason know the backstories of many of these players, and even if they don't, stories shouldn't last three to four plays and cause the announcers to ignore penalties or other things that went unexplained. (If you're not going to use the mic from the ref, then you better relay what the penalty was, because it was impossible to hear what Ed Hochuli was saying most of the time.) Besides, if you really want to tell stories that bad, break them up by mentioning what is going on in the action. Good baseball announcers do this perfectly, as it allows stories to be told without completely ignoring the game.
- Every so often during the broadcast, the feed would flicker to a black screen with some green on it. I'm not sure what was causing this issue, but it seemed to pop up every time a new graphic was pulled up. Perhaps that was the cause, but it got very annoying because it never went away.
- Speaking of graphics, the score bug (the graphic that keeps track of the time, score, etc.) was absolutely enormous this week. I liked that it actually gave us down and distance for a change, but it was so big that it seemed like an entire corner of my screen was being taken up. Now, that wouldn't have been a problem if the camera crew accounted for the graphic when they did their shots, but they didn't, sometimes causing players to be covered up by it. If you're going to go big with the graphic, at least make your camera crew realize it's there.
- Once again, the director (I called the person in charge the producer last week; my mistake), was not cutting back from replays quickly enough to not miss any of the game. That's understandable in college football when a team runs the spread (ESPN makes this mistake all of the time) or if there is a no-huddle situation, but this was just plain incompetence, as the action was moving pretty slowly. (Also, once a play started before WWJ even returned from commercial. Once again, that's just incompetence at work.)
- This is nothing at all compared to the other mistakes, but to Matt Shepard, Louis Delmas' first name is not pronounced like "Louisville," and you should be able to tell a running back (Kevin Smith) apart from a tight end (Brandon Pettigrew).
Some of you may think that I'm still being hard on WWJ, but their work reflects very poorly on the Lions. Now, I don't expect Emmy-winning broadcasts during the preseason, but the mistakes being made by WWJ are so simple that they shouldn't happen, and if they do, they should be corrected. Based on the fact that WWJ's coverage regressed from last week to this week, it's obvious that no corrections were made.
In fact, it got so bad last night that I was considering watching a stream of the Broncos feed that was a few minutes behind or just turning the game off altogether. In the end I didn't do either of those things because I still wanted to watch the game and watch it in HD, but this is how bad WWJ was. The awful broadcast actually made me think about turning the Lions off, as it was so frustrating trying to watch when they couldn't even do simple things like keep track of who has the ball or maintain a proper level of zoom.
The last thing I will say about WWJ is that the people covering the game should not become the story, preseason or not. Unless a complete overhaul of talent is made next year, I will be very disappointed if the Lions don't find a new television partner that makes watching their games an all-around fun experience. While the talent on the field has greatly improved, there is no talent covering it.
UPDATE: I skipped over halftime to catch back up to the game on my DVR, so I didn't even realize this happened. What a joke.