TV blog: CBS’ technology carries the day – except when it doesn’t

Michael Madrid/USA TODAY Sports

TV blog: CBS’ technology carries the day – except when it doesn’t

PGA Tour

TV blog: CBS’ technology carries the day – except when it doesn’t

Observations on TV coverage of Day 1 of the PGA Championship:

Major props to CBS for its aggressive, and at times innovative, use of tracers. It has Trackman on all 18 tees and wireless tracers in the fairways, and for the most part, it used it liberally and to good effect. In that sense, it was the antithesis of the Masters, which doesn’t look much different than it did 30 years ago, save for high-definition.

It also made good use of its ARL Virtual Eye, which overlays a tracer on a hole graphic, adjacent to a live shot of players hitting their drives. This is an idea that Fox Sports introduced at the 2016 U.S. Open, and NBC and CBS have since adopted it. (Fox also introduced the wireless tracers on fairway shots.) CBS added a nice twist by showing an aerial perspective tracer graphic from behind the tee. That’s the best angle I’ve seen on that graphic. Look for Fox and NBC to add that twist to their repertoire.

That’s how the creative process works. One company introduces a cool idea, and competitors adopt it and make it better. The beneficiaries are you and me, sitting at home watching on TV. That’s why I was one of the few heretics who supported Fox’s entry into golf in 2015. Competition makes everyone better.

All of that said, CBS still tends to do CBS things. By that, I mean that the network tends to talk a lot about technology, but inexplicably neglects to use it at times. For example, it has tracers on every hole, but there were key moments when they weren’t used – most egregiously when Rory McIlroy’s group tried to drive the par-4 14th, and subsequently on the par-5 15th, par-4 16th and par-4 18th. That’s can’t happen, particularly the afternoon’s featured group.

In general, the use of tracers seemed to get a bit sporadic later in the day. You know my rule on this: If a producer has cool toys, he should play with them until they break. Don’t worry about overusing them.

Less than a major

The big problem with the PGA Championship, with the exception of the bigger technology package, is that it often feels less like a major than an extended version of the Quicken Loans National. The PGA Championship has a great field – arguably the best of the year – but its stature is lessened by the way it is presented on TV. It’s difficult for a tournament to feel like a major when the network has a commercial break after every four or five shots.

It’s easy to criticize CBS for this, but I suspect the PGA of America, as the rights holder, has some responsibility. At the Masters, CBS’ agreement is to air no more than four minutes of commercials every hour. At the PGA, we might see that many commercial in the space of 15 minutes.

The PGA of America really needs to address this issue in its next round of TV negotiations, even if it means (gasp!) taking a little less network money.

 

Too soon to call

After Day 1 of the PGA, I’m really not sure what to make of the PGA and Turner apps. I initially had trouble logging on to Turner’s website, but once I got on, it worked flawlessly on both my laptop and phone.

For the most part, the same was true of the PGA app. I was able to bounce easily from the network coverage to the featured groups (though I did see an Omega commercial more than I might have liked). Later in the day, I had trouble accessing the TNT Network coverage from the PGA app, but it worked fine when I switched to the TNT app.

When the apps were good, they were very good. But there still seems to be a few bugs.

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