Courtesy of Google
It's no secret the current economic climate has taken its toll on every industry in this country, and sports are certainly not immune with every league scaling back in some shape or form. Just as distressing, however, from a journalistic standpoint, is the decision of some networks to cater more toward advertisers than viewers during this time.
While TNT's decision to rename their H-O-R-S-E competition G-E-I-C-O during NBA All-Star Weekend was bad, it pales in comparison to the embarrassing decision by Fox Sports West this week to move its pre- and post-game Lakers shows to an Indian reservation casino about 100 miles away from Staples Center.
Normally, the show emanates just outside of Staples Center, with Lakers fans standing around the set much like The Today Show. During Tuesday's game against the Hawks, however, the show was set amongst the backdrop of slot machines and random gamblers wondering why Bill Macdonald and Norm Nixon were broadcasting near the buffet. They will be back again Friday night for the Lakers-Hornets game. After all, where else would you want your pre- and post-game shows for one of the Lakers' biggest remaining games on their schedule?
Then again, this is the same network that had it its shows for the BCS National Championship Game in a Los Angeles studio when the game was being played in Miami. Part of the reason behind that decision, outside of the economy, was the BCS' decision to move its games over to ESPN beginning in 2011, meaning we can probably expect more subpar coverage next year, as well. It's the television equivalent of a player mailing in the last two years of a contract after finding out his current team won't re-sign him.
As if things couldn't get any more surreal with Fox Sports West, during Tuesday's broadcast, it aired a two-minute segment where Macdonald gave a tour of the hotel's suites and casitas, practically fawning over the outside shower and private Jacuzzi before finishing by singing the casino's catchy jingle.
Macdonald, to be fair, is one of the more likable personalities in the Los Angeles media market; but someone at FSW should've had the common sense to stop Macdonald from looking like informercial pitchman Billy Mays. This isn't the first time Macdonald has had to shill for sponsors on-air. He was filmed arriving at a game in a high-end car praising a local dealership once and gave tours of some nightclubs and restaurants across the street from Staples before it opened. This wouldn't be a problem if the segments aired during one of the many infomercials on Fox Sports; but this was taking place right in the middle of a Lakers broadcast.
The blame in this recent trend of poor marketing synergy not only lies with Fox Sports -- and other outlets that put the happiness of the advertiser before that of the viewer -- but also with the advertiser who thinks that disturbing the regular flow of a show or game is what the viewers want. If anything, having Phil Jackson's post-game press conference interrupted by a tour of a hotel room would make me not want to stay there. Well, that and the fact that particular room is going for $700 per night this weekend and has sprawling views of a freeway in the middle of nowhere.