The evolution of sports commentary

The Economics of Attention: Live Streaming

The social justice efforts of the NBA

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For as much as sports has evolved over time, sports commentary has remained largely the same. My main complaint lies in the lack of optionality available. When someone tune’s into live sport, there is no choice with whom the commentators are. This is especially true when watching through the traditional medium of TV, there is only going to be one channel with one set of commentators. If one is watching sports via streaming online, there is more of an opportunity to stream live commentary via Twitch or some other source. Even in that scenario, however, it is not a smooth experience and requires a lot of fidgeting jerry-rigging to make work.

Optionality wouldn’t be much of an issue if the standard of commentary isn’t so homogenous. Point-of-fact, there are only two commentators (ever) that I care to remember the names on account of the fact that they were hugely entertaining to listen to. In every other sports-watching experience, the level and type of commentary given is an afterthought and discarded from memory quickly after. The two commentators are Mike Breen who covers the NBA and Clive Tyldesley was covered the Champions League.

What contributes to the homogeneity of commentary is the forceful inclusion of ads. In watching the recent NBA playoffs, I was reminded of how chock-ful of ads the commentary is. From the block of the game, to the replay centre, and the steal of the game. Every single thing has a sponsor, and along with that a required 10 second ad-read. The feeling is that of the total number of words uttered in a commentary during a game, at least 30% of those are tied to paid ads. While I understand they are a necessary part of making the economics of the league work, it is blended in very poorly.

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