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The Future of Sports Broadcasting is Alternate Audio

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This weekend, when I was watching the Buckeyes almost blow it against Xavier in the NCAA tournament, there was a point in the game where I just put my headphones on and I couldn’t possibly listen to the CBS announcers anymore.

“Xavier has been saying that they WANTED Ohio State and now they HAVE THEM.”

This was the climax of the story arc that was chosen for this particular game. Other storylines were based on geography.

Did you know that Ohio State coach Thad Matta used to be the coach at (Dun DUN DUNNNNN!) Xavier?

Did you know that not only was the game in Lexington Kentucky, but that Cincinnati (Xavier) is about 85 miles away and Columbus (Ohio State) is about 180 miles away?

Meanwhile (to finish the geographic triangle) did you know that Columbus is about 100 miles away from Cincinnati?


I thought this was supposed to be a basketball game. Who cares about all these storylines? It certainly isn’t the players playing. They might occasionally give lip service to these types of things in the days leading up to the event, but once that opening tip-off happens, do you really think it enters their minds? They are too busy trying to remember what to do on motion offense or helping zone defense.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand why CBS and other networks pump up storylines for their broadcasts. They don’t do it for people like me, because they know that I am going to watch the game regardless. They are trying to capture an audience that doesn’t naturally respond to the idea of watching sports. They want to grasp an audience that might be intrigued by a storyline that can be served through this lens of drama that they loosely place around the ups and downs of a normal basketball game.

That doesn’t mean that I need to sit there and listen to all the histrionics that they are using to increase the level of suspense. I already have that level of suspense. Now you are just disgusting me. As a result, I can’t tell you anything that the announcers said during the last five minutes of regulation or the overtime period. I had my headphones on. Unfortunately for CBS I also can’t tell you anything about the commercials that were played during that time.

The answer is alternate audio. We need to have an option to listen to whatever broadcast team we choose. As anyone who has tried it knows, it is nearly impossible with the latencies in media streams to get your TV to line up with your radio. It will be good for sports. The fans will be happier. Sportscasters won’t carry the same weight that they once did, and I know this will bother a lot of purists, but I don’t care. Purists end up putting things on much taller pedestals than they ever truly stood on anyway.

In the short term, networks can even use it as a money-making opportunity by charging a small nominal fee. Trust me, if I am going to sit there for multiple hours watching my favorite team, it wouldn’t be a big deal for me to pony up a couple of dollars to listen to announcers that are speaking to me rather than some tertiary audience that doesn’t really care about the subject of basketball and the strategies in the game.

Who knows? In the long run, maybe this will end up being something like podcasting where every joe shmoe on the couch can do their own commentary and share it over the internet. If anyone wants to figure out a way to do this and steal the idea, just let me know so my friends and I can be beta testers. We think we are pretty entertaining.

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About Craig Lyndall