CBS Under Fire From Both Tennis And Basketball Fans On Twitter For Airing, Abandoning Miami Final
by Staff | March 31st, 2013, 3:59 pm

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.

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.

Twitter funny man Ivo Karlovic added some levity to a frustrating situation:

At least a small positive did come from the fiasco:

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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13 Comments for CBS Under Fire From Both Tennis And Basketball Fans On Twitter For Airing, Abandoning Miami Final

Ben Pronin Says:

Hard not to say f— you to all of the basketball fans. End of any sporting event > beginning of the event. Always. But this was clearly a no win for CBS. Huge mess all around. Solution? Tennis Channel needs to be on standard cable. No BS packages, no BS disputes with cable providers.

But this is a new low for tennis coverage. It’s really just pathetic. How about when football season starts and we have to wait for a meaningless early season game to finish before the start of a MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIP match? Seriously, screw all of these other fans. I’m not saying everyone has to love tennis but show some respect.

Ava Says:

I watched this match online and was none the wiser about this foolishness transpiring on CBS.

Why doesn’t CBS offer live-streaming of this event?!! Makes no sense. These U.S. broadcasters are awful at utilizing the Internet. Of course, they try to monetize every blessed thing. Just Live stream the event, CBS. Yeesh!

Eric Says:

“Schoolkids” — haha. Makes it sound like they’re little kids. Well of course people outside the US might not understand, but college football and basketball are big deals. (Hell, high school football is huge in some parts of the country.) Last year more people watched the college basketball finals than the pro basketball finals.

Timmy Says:

Eric, if broadcast television showed matches all the way to the end, tennis may become big in the United States too, just like amateur basketball, poker, and hot dog eating contests!

RZ Says:

If CBS wants to show basketball, fine. But they shouldn’t buy the rights to airing the Miami tournament, preventing Tennis Channel from airing it, if they don’t care enough to show the ENTIRE tennis match. I don’t even get Tennis Channel, but I’d rather the whole match be on there than just the parts that CBS or whatever network doesn’t feel like showing.

I don’t understand why these networks bid on the rights to air a tournament that they clearly don’t care about. (NBC was a big offender with this – so glad Wimbledon is on ESPN/ESPN2 now).

RZ Says:

The worst part is that they cut away during the last set tie-break. The whole thing would have ended in 5 more minutes. Surely people could deal with missing the first 5 minutes of a basketball game.

Eric Says:

Timmy, come on. You think CBS cutting away from matches once in a blue moon is the reason watching tennis isn’t that popular in the US anymore — and not, e.g., the lack of top American players in the men’s draw (when Sampras and Agassi last dueled in the US Open final, it was quite highly rated) or the perception that tennis is a boring sport for rich people?

I agree that it was annoying for them to cut away right before the tiebreak. But at that point, I guess they had already cut into their planned basketball coverage, and tiebreaks can go on for a long time (I remember Delpo and Dudi Sela played a zillion-point tiebreak that took almost as long as some entire sets…).

I guess being a sports broadcaster must be a nightmare. Sometimes matches are short, sometimes they’re long… especially in tennis. And you can’t air overlapping events without cutting something off, but you don’t want to plan for too much dead time in between things either…

jean Says:

This isn’t nearly as awful as when the Verizon-Tennis Channel contract ended in the middle of a US Open tennis match.

Kenneth Fowler Says:

I have Tennis Channel and they did not show the final tiebreak between Murray and Ferrar.. they wer showing old tapes of past tennis matches!

northalabama Says:

i understand the money cbs has invested in college basketball. i also understand what it’s like to watch 2:40 minutes of a pro tennis final, and not get to watch the last 5 minutes, and i still haven’t seen the end of the match. it wasn’t ncaa generating advertising revenue up to the start of the basketball game, it was the atp.

this could have been seen weeks ahead of time. plan ahead, and provide online streaming if there’s a chance you have to dump the broadcast of a pro tournament final. i won’t pay hundreds of extra bucks a year to get a package that includes the tennis channel, in standard def no less.

espn did the same last year, and cut away from an opening round federer match to show basketball, after airing the first half. unforgivable.

Michael Says:

I think the rule of thumb is finish a broadcast once you start with extreme weather serving as an exception. The clear option, though, is to allow for at least 3 hours for the tennis match. That is especially true when you have an NCAA tourney coming up next.

Sean Randall Says:

I really can’t totally fault CBS here. Remember, they pay an awful lot of money for the rights to show the basketball – $771 Million per above.

If you consider they pay $25 million for the US Open, now imagine how much, if anything, they pay for the Miami event? Peanuts under the seat cushions. That’s how much.

I was surprised they even went passed 2pm to stick with the tennis, momentarily bumping one of their biggest investments of the year.

That said, they should have either made the match available online or have put it on another cable outlet in addition to the tennis channel which many people still don’t have. CBS owns some other stations, I’m sure, so they should have switched there as well.

As for the blame, I think the tournament should get a healthy portion here. Why are they partnering with CBS anyway? And why start the match at 11:30am allowing for just a 2:30 air window for a men’s final? They should have started at least at 11am. My guess is next year they will.

charles jenne Says:

Remember the Kansas City vs Oakland Football years ago. Don’t remember the network but presume it was ABC. There seemed to be no end of badmouthing!!!

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