View Full Version : pool on TV (why nobody watches)
12-29-2002, 09:21 PM
Really enjoyed watching the Mosconi cup on TV. I was amazed by the enthusiasm of the fans in England. I also spent some time in England and was amazed that the live coverage of the snooker championship was a big deal over there. Not unlike a world series, or an NBA championship over here. I have seen little effort by the producers of ESPN pool to make it any more watchable over the last 10 years. Here are my suggestions in no specific order.
1. New announcers. The announcers for the pay-per-view event was a step in the right direction, but Jim "I married a pool player" Lawrence offers very little insight (and even less excitement) to the game. The Mosconi Cup announcers were not only world class players at one time, they were able to convey the excitement and pressure that the players were feeling. The current ESPN announcers could put me to sleep after a triple latte'.
2. Pool is alot like baseball in the fact that to the average Joe, it's alot of the same stuff over and over. Put more stats in the broadcast. Example: Allison played Jeanette earlier today. Wouldn't it be more watchable for the avid pool fan or the social pool player if they put up the stats of Allison's successful break percentage versus Jeanette's. Run out percentages, kicking percentages, win loss percentages. Isn't this what accustats does? It would explain to the viewer the advantages of the favored player and explain what the underdog needs to do to win. Imagine watching a baseball game without stats. No batting averages, no won loss percentages, no home run totals, no ERA's. Would be kind of dry, wouldn't it. This is how baseball differentiates between a Barry Bonds or a Joe Shmoe of somewhat lesser talent. Imagine the next ESPN match where Player A has a 90% to 75% successful break advantage, but player B has a better runout percentage and kicks as well. I thing it would add a bit more excitement. I could go on...
3. Televise the matches sooner before I already know who won or wait a year or so until I've forgotten who won and then televise them.
I could go on but I have a grueling 1 day work week next week. Happy holidays!!
Hmm like the idea about the stats and current rankings of maybe the top 20 WPBA players, and like was mentioned in the other thread the WPBA should get one of those Brits instead of boring Jim lol
those brits can make anything look and sound exciting just look at Soccer /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif
12-29-2002, 11:45 PM
Those are some good ideas. I think they would be more interesting to the hard core playes than the general audience though.
that's what sells on tv: a story. when abc did fats and willie the story was the biggest name against the best player and the best player gave fats his comeuppance appropriately in front of god and everybody on tv. and they did some shenanigans during that too.some walking off the set kind of stuff. tv needs shenanigans.
when jean was making her run the story was girl vs boy kinda like the tennis thing with billye jean king and that fool.
we need a story. some drama. earl has tried but nobody cares about temper tantrums from pool players.
POOL AS BOXING
that's how you do it. if a promoter were to develop two shooters as top and shoot them against each other then maybe there could be some interest. just like boxing, it's a king of the hill kind of thing. with lotsa cash.
ok, the best match would be one of the top women against one of the top men but i guess that won't happen. even though it could and probably would make a ton of money as a pay per view i guess it won't happen.
dan...start promoting 3 to 4 mos out.
12-30-2002, 04:42 AM
I guess we can agree to disagree. You mention how enthusiastic the Mosconi Cup announcers were. . . I found them to be too "over the top", to the point where it sounded forced and fake. It wasn't that exciting. Pool is unique in that it is similar to both baseball and golf. Many people think baseball is very boring . . . Real baseball fans know, baseball is a game of strategy. Pool is quite similar. Pool, just as in golf - is a more layed back atmosphere. The announcers and the fans are more passive. I don't need my announcers to sound like they are announcing the WWF. Do you ever see heckling or even publicly rooting against one player in pool? Rarely. If I am vocal at a WPBA event (which they encourage) and I am clearly in favor of one particular player to win, WOW! - I get real dirty looks from the other player. And I don't mean that I am being obnoxious either. Just "Great shot Ming", but never acknowleging the other player. I can appreciate a great shot by either player, but there is no reason what so ever that I need to be publicly cheering for both.
ThePoolNerd - You said:
"1. New announcers. The announcers for the pay-per-view
event was a step in the right direction, but Jim "I
married a pool player" Lawrence offers very little
insight (and even less excitement) to the game. The
Mosconi Cup announcers were not only world class players
at one time, they were able to convey the excitement and
pressure that the players were feeling. The current ESPN
announcers could put me to sleep after a triple latte'."
All announcers have a curtain style. And by the way, If you are going to hammer somebody . . . At the very least get their name right. . . It's Mitch Laurance - Not Jim. Mitch didn't get the job because he was married to Ewa. . . He had a background in front of the camera before the WPBA. . . Also, Mitch's primary job is not for insight. . . that is the "color commentary" person. Usually that is a player. . . Look at all of the major sports . . . It's usually a professional broadcaster partnered with a former player to add the expert knowledge. As far as the pay-per-view announcers, they were anything but "A Step In The Right Direction". All of them were former players and it was non stop chatter. Much of the time they were just trying to "one up" each other.
There is also quite a bit of other "traffic" as it is called in the biz that the announcers need to deal with aside from describing the action. Sponsor mentions, replay issues, tossing to commercial breaks, etc. . . Mitch handles this superbly while still looking out for(and guiding)the much less experience color commentator(player) who is quite unfamiliar with tv productions. It would be a mess out there if it weren't for Mitch. . . If you want a lesson on how not to do things, just go back and look at that PPV. On the PPV, Mike Segal didn't even know the score and had to ask "on the air" . . . During the PPV, another announcer asked "on the air" if we could get a curtain shot. . . Those are just two small examples, but there are ways that professional productions deal with those issues. . . I don't see those amateur things when I watch a WPBA show. Accu-Stats has produced a lot of tapes and has used many different players as announcers. That's great, but these are not real broadcasters nor are the tapes "broadcast quality". PPV and ESPN are not the places where players go to learn to be Announcers or Producer/Directors. Neither PPV or ESPN are broadcast schools.
Former players in other sports usually start broadcasting a college game or go on the radio at the teams Triple-A affiliate. . . They may do that for many seasons before they get a shot at the network level. Accu-Stats is a great place to try your skill at announcing, but you should have hundreds of shows under your belt, not just a couple of shows before you get a shot at the worldwide audience. Pool shouldn't be any different than the other sports. JMHO.
As far as the producers not doing anything to make pool more exciting on ESPN, what would you like changed that didn't cost money? If you want major changes, you MUST get big sponsors from outside the billiard industry. You won't get a major sponsor until you get a lot more viewers. ESPN WILL NOT invest money if there is not a large audience. It's sort of a chicken and egg thing. To get a better show, you need more money. To get more money, you need a bigger audience. To get a bigger audience, you need a more exciting show which cost more money.
2. As far as the Stats issue. I personally know that those issues have been raised and you are seeing more and more stats on the WPBA shows. . . However, keeping those stats is not easy and to do so - COST MONEY. Baseball broadcasts are loaded with stats . . . There is a company called Allias (sp?) that keeps stats on baseball . . . All of the teams have access to them and use them - FOR A PRICE. Every team has a full time sports information person who deals with these issues. Giving stats to the teams to be used in the broadcast,"Game Notes" as they are called, etc. Again, that full time person COST MONEY.
So, as I said before, we can agree to disagree. I think Mitch does a great job and is by far, the most professional
billiard broadcaster out there. I don't need non stop chatter or an announcer to make more out of the event than it is . . . Yes, things can always be better, but let's appreciate what we have and keep watching.
There are several reasons why nobody watches pool on ESPN. #1 ESPN uses Billiards as a filler. Its all taped so they schedule it after a live basketball or football game so if the game runs long they can just chop up the billiard format to fit the schedule.
#2 Pool needs characters, somebody to love and somebody to hate. Somebody eccentric. Take bowling for example. In the 70s when it was one of the most popular programs on Sat TV you had all the one of a kind characters like Ernie Schlegel, Pete Courter Etc. They came out wearing loud clothes and they had there quirky mannerisms. Then bowling decided to go "professional" and everybody acted like robots and the ratings went down and ABC dropped it. Now the PBA is trying to get the players to be more out going again ...
3. Let face it to the average person watching pool is boring so it is up to the players to make it more interesting.
Just my opinion. Jerry In Minn.
12-30-2002, 01:42 PM
I think pool just is what it is. I would hate to see the game changed in some way just to make it more marketable. I despise things like shot clocks and Sardo racks. The game is not played in a laboratory. I like the randomness of the game. The different size tables and games, not everything perfect. I think a good thing for tv may be a tournament on bar tables that the public can identify with playing 8-ball. Pool has a nitch audiance that would be loyal if it was done right. The game is not a fad, it has been around for more then 100 years in it's present form. I can't believe the powers that be, have not figured out yet how to market it. It will never rival golf, but so what. It does have a market. I honestly can't believe it. I can't believe there is not a place on cable TV for pool. There are shows on every day, fishing, gardening, cooking, crafts and almost anything you can think of, except pool. It's a mystery to me.
12-30-2002, 02:30 PM
All of your points were well founded and I understand your viewpoint on the issues. I am aware of what Sigel did on the PPV event, but I can overlook those things because he brings alot of insight. I would like to see Incardona as an announcer; his humor, his insight and his pool stories would liven it up a bit. What other sport has better stories than pool? Also, I don't think they need to go so far as to spend thousands to keep stats on every aspect of every players' games. It would be nice, however, to hear more general stats such as a player's win-loss record for the year at least. I haven't missed an ESPN match in well over two years and I have only heard them mention a won-loss record once. Allison. No huge effort would need to be done to generate the more general stats; I could probably pull it up on the net somewhere. How about win-loss record vs. opponents? All of these stats are readily available. Also, a Vitale type, ebullient announcer is bound to rub some people the wrong way, but I enjoyed him. Except for the "Are you watching in the White House?" comment after the Americans lost. Believe me, they weren't watching. Nobody was. Not live anyways. 1 month tape delay sucks. How much fun would it be to watch the Buckeyes thump the Hurricanes in mid-February?
12-30-2002, 03:39 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote thepoolnerd:</font><hr> Put more stats in the broadcast. Example: Run out percentages, kicking percentages, win loss percentages. Isn't this what accustats does? Imagine watching a baseball game without stats. <hr /></blockquote>Excellent point and capital idea.
For the men it would require deciding which tournaments were to be included in the statistics, as there is no official Pro Tour, although the woman shouldn't have that problem. The biggest obstacle would probably be the requirement for a statistician to record every match and a central data base to compile and disseminate the information. With the internet, connecting to that data base shouldn't be too hard. Getting a statistician to record every match is the trick. Who's going to do that or fund it? Maybe a corps of volunteers could be enlisted and trained. Perhaps they would get free entry to the tournament and a souvenir of some sort.
12-30-2002, 05:09 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Photoguy:</font><hr>
As far as the producers not doing anything to make pool more exciting on ESPN,
what would you like changed that didn't cost money? If you want major changes,
you MUST get big sponsors from outside the billiard industry. You won't get a major
sponsor until you get a lot more viewers. ESPN WILL NOT invest money if there is
not a large audience. It's sort of a chicken and egg thing. To get a better show,
you need more money. To get more money, you need a bigger audience. To get a
bigger audience, you need a more exciting show which cost more money. <hr /></blockquote>How about all the potential sponsors WITHIN the industry, that are guarding their wallets & hangin' in the shadows, right over there, under the BCA banner /ccboard/images/graemlins/mad.gif
12-30-2002, 05:43 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote thepoolnerd:</font><hr> Except for the "Are you watching in the White House?" comment after the Americans lost. Believe me, they weren't watching. Nobody was. Not live anyways. 1 month tape delay sucks. <hr /></blockquote>
That was a dumb comment! LOL The White House couldn't have watched it even if they wanted to. It was not available in the U.S....at least through conventional means. However, I think it was only a WEEK tape delay, rather than a month, and this was the FASTEST ESPN ever put a pool match on tv after the tournament had finished! Try to give then a tiny little bit of credit. They DID give us FOUR STRAIGHT HOURS...unheard of on American television before yesterday.
Still a long way off from what we would like to see, but a definite improvement...even with all the editing and errors!
12-30-2002, 06:39 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Photoguy:</font><hr> ESPN WILL NOT invest money if there is not a large audience. It's sort of a chicken and egg thing. To get a better show, you need more money. To get more money, you need a bigger audience. To get a bigger audience, you need a more exciting show which cost more money. <hr /></blockquote>It's not quite that simple. ESPN generally has a pretty big audience because a lot of people tune in to ESPN just because it's ESPN.
While an "exciting show which costs more money" will get more people to tune in and stay tuned in, it is not enough to guarantee success. Every year, many costly and slick productions fall to the wayside because they couldn't pull in the ratings required to generate commercial revenue.
12-31-2002, 02:47 AM
Nobody said that it was simple. Just the facts. ESPN may generally have a pretty big audience, but what networks care about are the specific rating for EACH show - not their total audience. Pool has a very loyal following and ESPN knows it, but it is a very low rating share compared to other shows. That is why they just plug it in anywhere. ESPN knows that wherever they put pool, they will get the same number of pool fans watching. . . Obviously, that is because we don't have any other option. The other major factor is that ESPN pays absolutely NOTHING for those WPBA shows, so many times you will see it air at the same time as a major sporting event like the Superbowl, NCAA Playoffs, etc. Since ESPN knows that they are going to get low ratings against the Superbowl, why not plug in programming that you at least know has a certain guaranteed rating and COST YOU NOTHING. I know this has all been discussed to death here before, but . . .
Yes, people tune into ESPN just because it's ESPN, but the show also has to be an EVENT for the average viewer to stay interested. What drama is there when these highly skilled players are playing to win $6000. Heck, the 5th ranked pro golfer probably makes at least 10 times that just in an appearance fee to show up . . . Where does that money come from? It comes from the major sponsors and the tv networks paying for the broadcast rights.
Sure, more money isn't a guarantee, but pool is not a costly show to produce in comparison to other sports or entertainment shows. The most important thing pool needs right now is major sponsorship from outside the industry. Then, if Karen and Jeanette are playing for $100,000 . . . it becomes an EVENT that might keep the average viewer from turning the channel.
Well, while I missed the Mosconi Cup coverage on ESPN (after anxiously waiting for a month, and setting alarms in my PDA, I got busy that day and didn't have the PDA with me!), I do get BCtv vZine, and watched the first few games between Varner/Archer and Immonen/(the other European guy). The thing that struck me right away was the over-enthusiastic announcers. I'm all for commentary, but I expect quiet as the shot is taken, and there's really no need for those
type of screams like in the Hispanic soccer matches. It annoyed the heck outta me.
Just my $0.02...
01-04-2003, 11:29 PM
Shirley and I had to turn the sound off every time that English guy came on. There was a polite Southern gentleman that was really good, though.
Mitch and Ewa do a great job. I'd like to hear Ewa a little more. She's a pool player.
What I'd really like to hear is the players themselves, while they're down on the shot, describing how they are going to stroke it, and the intended shape.
01-19-2003, 08:45 AM
Good post there Popcorn.... one thing to remember is that people who like Golf, watch Golf & the same goes for Tennis, Fishing, Pool & whatever. The folks at ESPN2 are marketeers... not people. They are selling TIME for Money. When the TIME slot slows, they change programs.
I'd like to see the TV Marketeers go from Tournament to Tournament, Pool Hall to Pool Hall so they can show the different facets (upscale & not so nice)... Or, how about a "once a month show" that's a real "$10,000 RACE to 7 Match" (show me the money) kinda deal. Show the game for what it is..., it ain't the sanitary set seen on TV, it's a game of emotions, a game of nerves & sometimes it even has defeating moments for the winner of a match. How many times you guys dog a key ball in your possible final run of the match, only to watch your opponent win that game. Then you had watch your opponent run three racks & dog the match (kinda nerve racking ain't it").
If Jerry Springer can stay on TV, then REAL LIVE "Pool Matches for MONEY" be televised too. That format would show lots of facets of "THE GAME", the Tables, Cues & Cue Makers, Cases, the Sweaters in an audience, the Backers or Stake Horses, the different games like 8,9,6,3 Ball, Rotation ....etc., the Women, the Pool Hall owner & so on. That format would generate some real commentary from all the listed areas & people listed above, not just some rhetoric from a clown that can't measure anything correctly. Imagine a BACKER chewing a cigar to bits as a player drowns his horse on National TV...., imagine the sitting losing opponent & his girlfriend's conversation as they view his demise (maybe there wouldn't be any conversation). Show the sweat on a brow, show the womans wrenching hands, her grimaces as the balls fall in one by one... then wonder if the losing opponent is gonna get laid that night... Ha!Ha!Ha!
I could go on, but I'm sure you folks can see where the game of POOL could have a dynamite venue... we could actually garner some Jerry Springer fans.... cb
01-19-2003, 10:49 AM
I agree with most of what you said. Get those guys out of the booth, and get Mike Sigel in there along with Allen Hopkins and Buddy Hall and see how much more insite and knowledge they could bring to the veiwing experience!
01-19-2003, 03:32 PM
You'll have to teach Mike Segal how to read and pronounce players names correctly before you get me to think of him as a world class commentator. Tony Robels? Yikes!
01-19-2003, 07:46 PM
Regarding pronunciation of people's names the people at Fox CBS CNN don't get it right either a lot of the time.
What Sigal would bring is tremendous knowledge and insite to the presentation. I've always ejoyed him immensely whenever he use to do it!
Until they get some cheerleaders with Pop-Poms and short skirts it will continue to have a small viewing audience. Heck, admit it, pool on tv is actually pretty boring as it is currently presented.
Gimme a P
Gimme an O
Gimme another O
Gimme an L
What's that spell?
See the potential? LOL
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