American broadcasting network CBS was under fire this afternoon for their coverage of the Miami Sony Open Tennis final between Andy Murray and David Ferrer. With the match approaching the 2pm start time of the widely popular, very lucrative Elite 8 round of the NCAA Basketball Tournament pre-game show, CBS had to toe the very fine line between a smaller, fringe tennis fan base and a multi-billion dollar national basketball audience awaiting the start of the Michigan Wolverines-Florida Gators game.
Unless the match ended before 2pm, which it didn’t, fans were going to be up in arms, and they were.
When Murray saved a matchpoint and the match spilled to 5-5 around 2pm, CBS match the decision to stay with tennis until the tiebreak then have Tennis Channel take over. After 12 minutes their very worst fears were realized: the match was heading to a tiebreak and they would have to leave the abandon the match to ready for the the basketball which now was moved to a 2:23 start.
It was a no win situation for the network.
On twitter, fans had long reached their boiling point. Those expecting to see the resumption of “March Madness” on this Easter holiday weekend were instead stuck with having to watch an error-filled tennis final between a Brit and a Spaniard they had likely never heard of.
Why isn’t CBS switching to the NCAA tourney. No one in Indiana cares about this tennis match.
— Godfather of #1UBB (@ra_indiana) March 31, 2013
This tennis needs to get off CBS so College bball can come on #MarchMadness
— Drew Nelson (@32drewnelson) March 31, 2013
Yo CBS it’s 2 o’clock and Florida is playing Michigan. Why Am I watching tennis? #cmonson
— Connor Riley (@overintheCONNOR) March 31, 2013
— Mike Carpenter (@coachcarp1) March 31, 2013
Someone tell CBS to remove tennis from my television screen #areyoukiddingme
— Jack Heary (@JackHeary) March 31, 2013
Almost time to get this meaningless tennis off my TV, CBS.
— Bryan App (@bappster) March 31, 2013
America has never rooted harder for David Ferrer to win.
— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) March 31, 2013
Okaaaay really this tennis needs to stop and get to the basketball game which is more important. K thanks CBS.
— Molly ❤✌ (@blondie596) March 31, 2013
Why the F@$& is tennis on CBS right now? Turn this crap off and put on the game!!!! #GoBlue
— UMichFootballOnline (@shoelaceheisman) March 31, 2013
Why in the world is this tennis match still on CBS? Hello! #MarchMadness
— Zach Abolverdi (@ZachAbolverdi) March 31, 2013
Memo to CBS: We don’t care about tennis. Please focus on the game. Thank you!
— Anwar Richardson (@AnwarRichardson) March 31, 2013
When the tiebreak came, it’s was tennis’s turn to sound off as CBS left the match remiding fans to switch to the Tennis Channel. But the Tennis Channel was in commercial break for those that even had it.
— Don Van Natta Jr. (@DVNJr) March 31, 2013
Sending a “thrilling” Ferrer/Murray match to the Tennis Channel, from CBS, is the closest thing cable networks have to: ‘a walk of shame.’
— Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) March 31, 2013
@cbssportsgangIt is TERRIBLE that CBS stopped the tennis match at the most crucial point in the match. Stick to football.
— Craig Simundza (@craigsimundza) March 31, 2013
Lol, CBS is trending because tennis fans are upset that the network cutaway from a NON MAJORto show the start of an ELITE EIGHT game.
— Daniel Grote (@dangrote) March 31, 2013
Missed the Murray win because CBS changed the show. & I don’t have tennis channel…
— Tennis Fanatic!(@TennisFanatic15) March 31, 2013
#cbs that was some bullshit. Going into a tiebreaker from an epic ‘championship’ match and you cut to bball? I don’t have the tennis channel
— Greg (@gpretak) March 31, 2013
I’m not mad at CBS for cutting away.I’m mad at this CBS deal with whoever, Tennis Channel for not being ready, and the players for sucking
— Jason (@Hurley_LLC) March 31, 2013
Are you kidding me??!! Leaving coverage of the Sony Open at 6-all in the third set!! That is pathetic @cbsports
— Michael Russell (@MRusselltennis) March 31, 2013
CBS pays $25 million annually for the US Open. With Turner they pay $771 million annually for men’s NCAA Tournament rightsThere ya go haha
— Mardy Fish (@MardyFish) March 31, 2013
Twitter funny man Ivo Karlovic added some levity to a frustrating situation:
Ok. CBS ended tennis Miami final coverage at 6 all third set to amateur basketball. Okie dokie..
— ivo karlovic (@ivokarlovic) March 31, 2013
At least a small positive did come from the fiasco:
One upside of CBS leaving & the tiebreak shifting to Tennis Channel was we got to see the presentation & hear the players speak. Nice moment
— Darren Cahill (@darren_cahill) March 31, 2013
After starting the final at 1pm three of the last four years (12:30pm in 2011) when there was no basketball airing after, the men’s title match this year began at 11:30am to allot for the basketball tournament which this year began a week later than in the past.
In some fairness to CBS, they do pay millions more to college basketball than to tennis. According to ESPN’s Darren Rovell, CBS pays $25 million for the US Open, but $771 million for the right to show the college basketball tournament.
And in the U.S. big time money really does talk. And when it does it’s usually tennis that takes the walk.
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