An awkward experience

I’ve been slowly working my way through the film of Indiana’s 31-13 win against Western Kentucky. And by film, I mean that I DVRed the game and have been watching it instead of Seinfeld reruns. No laughs for me.

I’ll admit, as I have admitted many times before, to not being a very typical sports fans. My job necessitates a different outlook on things. But I have to tell you that I find watching the Big Ten Network incredibly awkward.

First, let me start with the commercials. About 70 percent of the commercials broadcast during the game were for Big Ten schools. These spots implored me to go to Michigan and Wisconsin and Indiana and Michigan State. There was triumphant music and slow-motion video of the sun rising over campus and pretty girls smiling and people trying to cure cancer and the whole deal. I was so moved that I have since applied to each of the above schools.

But here’s my question: aren’t the people watching the Big Ten Network already fairly convinced that the Big Ten is pretty rad? I mean, I went to a Big Ten school. I’ve spent time in every Big Town school. I think I have acquaintances from every single Big Ten university. I get it.

The other 30 percent of the commercials I saw during the game were for something called Ro*Tel, which is, far as I can tell, the first product ever to have a “*” in the middle of it. So far I’ve been unable to decipher what the “*” might mean. Does it indicate a pause? Is it an accent mark? Maybe those linguistics experts I contacted will get back to me.

Ro*Tel, by the way, is apparently a company that sells diced tomatoes and peppers in a can. And then you mix it with cheese, and it is supposedly delicious. I am here to tell you that when you mix almost anything with cheese, it is delicious. Nonetheless, I will buy this Ro*Tel and report back to you.

Moving on . . .

What did you guys think of the announcers for the game? The Big Ten Network crew consisted of Tom Werme doing play-by-play, Tony McGee providing analysis and Megan West working the sideline.

I will refrain from offering my own thoughts on the group for several reasons. First, I don’t watch enough games to feel as though I have a fair sampling to compare them to. Second, I feel like I’m not the target audience since I happen to attend practices and interview players for a living. Third, I couldn’t do half as good a job as those guys did.

But I honestly wonder how you guys feel about the quality of the broadcast. Is the analysis incisive? Are the sideline reports helpful? Give me your thoughts.


  1. Werme was fine. I kept saying throught the game that McGee was the worst color guy I have ever heard. He actually said this twice: “If you can make the other team start inside their own 20, they have a better chance of not scoring.” No kidding!

  2. Maybe it was my TV, but I thought the production quality of the broadcast was just terrible. I was flipping between all the games at one point, not in HD in any of them (which might be the problem), and the IU game looked like it was bring produced by high schoolers. Everything looked a little bit darker than it should, it was grainy, and the camera guys routinely lose the ball carrier (that is actually something that happens in every BTN broadcast regardless of who is playing). The other games I watched seemed to have a fine picture quality, but not the IU game, for whatever reason

  3. I watched the game on my DVR and agree the broadcast was poor, but I’m not going to complain too much because without the BTN this game would have never been on TV at all.

    The BTN (FOX Sports) had too many games to cover on Saturday to have their top equipment, announcers, and production people at every game this weekend. This will of course all change when the Big Ten season starts since they will have 1/2 the amount of games to cover.

    The lack of commercials (with exception to Rotel)worries me. FOX has to be losing a ton of money with the BTN. How much longer will they continue to lose a ton of money before they pull the plug? I know they have a long term contract, but surely they covered their own butts with an out clause.

  4. Ricky is right. The picture quality was horrible. I couldn’t even read the numbers on the jerseys.

    Hopefully we just got the bottom of the barrel equipment for this game.

    I can’t receive the radio signal of the station that broadcasts the games where I live on the eastside of town, so the BTN is better than nothing.

  5. I realize that broadcasters have to maintain an air of professionalism, but those guys were like sports valium. I bounced between my living room and my garage during the game, listening to Don Fisher when I had to go in the garage, and watching BTN when I was inside. Kellen made his two long runs when I was in the garage, but I watched them on the DVR after the fact to see them. When the BTN d-bags weren’t talking about something other than the game, they were delivering their play-by-play of the rather exciting plays in what can only be described as an “opiate monotone.”
    If these guys can’t get excited watching Kellen Lewis break a 75-yard run, they might want to stick to Olympic Sloth Boxing.

    On a totally separate note, I don’t know what I’m gonna do when Don Fisher retires. That guy’s voice IS Indiana sports to me.

  6. Do any of you remember the first few years of CNN? Or ESPN? They both looked HORRIBLE!! Almost as bad as Chris Berman looks today.

    Give the Big Ten a break. The inking of deals with Comcast & Time Warner will begin to open up the opportunities to sign real companies for ad dollars. Until those two climbed on board, the ads were not going to be there.

  7. I thought overall the telecast was ok. I just hope the team plays better, it would be more entertaining to watch. I to will miss Don Fisher when he retires but I did notice after listening to parts of the game on the radio, that Fish would announce the play but sometimes he wouldn’t mention the yard line or if the play resulted in a first down, just kinda left me hanging there for awhile, those type of things are hard to see when you’re watching the game on the radio….

  8. Ricky, what station are you using? Both 105.1 and 105.5 FM broadcast the game. I lived on eastside for past 5 years and did not have a problem getting games on radio.

  9. Yeah two things I noticed immediately:

    The actual quality of the picture was bad. At first I thought it was glare from outside, but it was just bad quality.

    Secondly, IU always seems (and rightfully so) to get the crap announcers. The color guys never know the players names if they arent high profile and they lack in-depth knowledge about either team’s gameplan on either side of the ball. In short, they come across boring and unprepared.

    I feel like the individual schools let their own commentators do those games. Is that correct? Because I remember watching Michigan last year and they always had higher profile announcers doing those Big Ten games. I could have swore Brent Musberger did that App St./UM game last year. OSU and UM just have better productions all together than the lower tier schools. Its like they dumb it down for lower profile programs.

  10. Not only does the picture quality generally stink (especially on large, high-def tv’s) and the commentary make you want to bang your head against a wall, but the overall production is among the worst in the business. Have you ever seen worse management of replays, camera switches, and the like? The whole network is pretty Mickey Mouse in my opinion. If the schools had any brains, they’d sync the radio broadcasts with the delayed tv broadcast and let Fish’s sage words gel with the pictures again (as was the case before the Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction and the resultant delay of live tv broadcasts).
    As for the disproportionate amount of school ads, it plainly evidences the lack of advertiser support the Big 10 Network has received since it launched. The school ads are just filling up the dead air space the network can’t sell to paying customers. Considering the way in which the network has been belatedly and unevenly made available to Big 10 markets, would you waste your business’s advertising dollars on this pathetic network’s patchy exposure?

  11. OK people, let’s take a break here. Many people were able to watch the BTN for the first time this past weekend. That means a lot of things: 1) The BTN is still a new venture and not a 25-year established network like ESPN, which let’s be honest, is the comparison everyone is making to the BTN, and that’s not fair. 2) Sure there are going to be “filler” commercials right now. The BTN launched to 15 million people, so many people were hesitant to advertise. I just read a story on the Big 10’s website that the BTN is now available in 75 million homes and in the last week they signed with five major distributors. What Boreman doesn’t talk about it — because it hasn’t happened yet — is the extra coverage of IU, how they were at Midnight Madness last year and all the additional basketball attention. Chill out people and give it time. Jeeeeez!

  12. HoosierGrad, what good is BTN availability in 75 mil. homes if half of those homes aren’t getting to watch their teams because of regional market policies?!? And as far as giving them time to figure this thing out, they were already on the clock last season when IU had 2 All-Americans whose games were not broadcast in most of Indiana for the entire season. Couple their chilly introduction into the market with their bush-league production and you won’t get much sympathy across the Big 10 markets. By the way, isn’t Fox running the show here? We deserve far more than what they’ve delivered so far.

  13. HoosierGrad,

    It is not an unfair comparison to put the BTN against ESPN. The BTN is a division of Fox Sports, and should have their production values at worse.

    The creation of the BTN took games off of ESPN+ (WTTV 4) and put them on the BTN. Those who were used to the ESPN productions, even when on ESPN+ have every right to demand that the BTN delivers at minimum the same quality of video and commentary for the games.

    On a side note, I was told that the IU/WKU game was only available on the Comcast broadcast of the BTN and that satellite customers had the OSU game and that none of the BTN Alternate channels had different games on.

  14. I mentioned this on another comment board but at one point in the broadcast, the announcers said Kellen Lewis will make it in the pros but not as a QB. He is more likely to go as a wide receiver and the other announcer said or a RUNNING BACK. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard.

  15. Mike P,

    I believe that was the case for Dish Network because my friend said the OSU game was all he could watch. However, I was able to watch PSU, OSU, IU, Iowa, and Wisconsin all at the same time whether on the main channel or the alternates (with Directv).

  16. Josh,

    Thanks for the follow up. I was at the game, so it didn’t effect me at the time, but considering I have Dish Network, this concerns me.

    Looks like a phone call to them will be in the near future for me.

  17. Biggest issue is that the BTN produced 7 games this past weekend, but for the bulk of the season will only be doing 3 maybe 4 games. Until the conference sched starts, production resources and commentator talent are spread thinly. We’ll see the difference this weekend when IU’s game is in HD and I believe has the #2 commentator team (not the #6 or 7 guys this past weekend). Also with less games, there is less overflow and less chance of missing games in restricted viewing markets

  18. I’ll agree with Drew….McGee made me feel like I had no obvious knowledge of the game of football. I am not a fan of color guys that make overly obvious statements that make the audience feel dumb. The color guys should use experience from other football related experiences and/or their playing days to give insightful tidbits to help make the game more interesting.

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