So the other morning I noticed the phrase “Time Warner Cable” was trending nationwide on Twitter and I thought that was odd. I’ve been a TWC customer (and a pretty happy one) for a decade, but couldn’t think of a reason that could get the channel and data provider onto the big board… unless it was… could it be… dare I hope…?
YES! TWC and the NFL Network had completed 74 years of negotiations* and just like that the biggest hole in my cable package was filled.
So, I plopped down on the sofa at 10 a.m. on Sunday to see what games were being broadcast here (I was getting only Niners-Vikings). During one of the commercial breaks, I flipped over to the NFL RedZone channel to check it out. I’d heard about it before and was curious about it. The concept is essentially a real-time highlight show that covers all concurrent games simultaneously.
Holy crap. I was completely unprepared for what happened next. Next, there was this guy – Scott Hanson – who was essentially at a command desk managing the transitions from game to game. Every game was being covered. Every time a team had a big play. Every time some other team got close to the end zone. Every time there was something controversial. Any time any particular action stopped, they moved onto the next most interesting thing that was happening. All without let-up. All without commercials.
I looked up and it was five hours later and I really had to pee. I never turned back to the games that were on FOX or CBS. And unless it’s a game that I really want to watch, I may never again. My scorecard.
If you are a fantasy player (I am not) or a person that –ahem– places wagers for sporting purposes only (I am), RedZone seems custom designed for you. You can keep track of all the scores and player updates.
Scott Hanson did a really good job of managing the transitions. He could get you up to date, make a quip (this week, generally skewering the replacement refs), and then get out of the way. I haven’t watched a NFL pre- or post-game show on any network for years, since they’ve all gone to the Six People Yelling At Each Other format. Hanson’s solo act was refreshing.
No commercials. NO COMMERCIALS.
There’s lore that if you recorded an NFL game, you could watch all the meaningful action in about 20-30 minutes of what is usually a 3.5-hour broadcast. RedZone completely reinforces this observation. There were NINE 10 a.m. games – and I don’t feel like I missed a thing in any of them. This is great if you’re a viewer and terrible if you’re thinking about a single NFL game as a viewing experience.
If the game you’re getting on your regional NFL broadcast is kind of a stinker, or your home team is blacked-out, or keeps you from seeing the game you want, it doesn’t matter one bit. At one point there were three OT games going on at once. That was awesome.
You can get sort of a national weather report just by sitting there. It’s raining in Miami, it’s very sunny in Tennessee, it’s kinda dark inside the Superdome.
No Momentum. Because you’re watching every game at once, you’re not really watching any of them. You will almost certainly miss the “intangible” plays that turn a game one way or another: the sack or dropped pass that kills a scoring drive, the extra one-yard some back grinds out to get a first down probably aren’t going to be shown. Every game is essentially distilled down to a live-feed highlight reel.
It’s Exhausting. No really, after five hours of constant highlight-highlight-highlight!!! I was pretty wiped out. You start to get an appreciation for a little of the downtime in a regular broadcast game. Also with those, there are clearly delineated times to go pee.
There’s something about RedZone that caters to the worst aspects of our 21st century short-attention span lifestyle. Something about it says – the games really don’t matter, all that matters is the scoring and the highlights and the fantasy points. There’s something not altogether good about that.
That said, I fully anticipate that unless there’s a game that I really want to watch (and judging from the turnover factory that the Eagles have been so far this season, I’m not sure there will be many of them…), you’ll find me camped out in the RedZone.
*it felt that long