Already enough. Stop trying to make a splash. Stop trying to be so fancy. Just give that idea that was done before a rest. Permanently. Peacock recently aired a Sunday game between the Tigers and Royals without in-cab announcers. There were reporters conducting interviews and showing fans different views of the stadium, but there was no commentary. No play-by-play. No analyst. Was there. It is done. Now stop.
It looks like a publicity stunt. As if to say, ‘our baseball shows on Peacock are struggling, so let’s talk about us, shall we?’ I guess to some extent it worked, because people were talking about it and I’m writing about it.
Instead of the traditional play-by-play and color analysis, the show featured something “completely different,” as NBC Sports executive producer Sam Flood puts it. There were reporters who took fans around Detroit’s Comerica Park, showing the game from different angles and vantage points.
“The whole idea of it is to treat a completely different game. We’re going to take you to the ballpark,” Flood said. “We just want to be the ultimate fan experience and spend it like anyone else. It’s an American holiday weekend. We’re going to lean in and treat baseball like the fans do.
Ahmad Farid, MLB Sunday Kickoff the game’s host and reporter was part of the game. He was joined by Bally Sports Detroit analyst Craig Monroe and NBC Sports’ Britney Eurton.
“One of our goals for the Peacock game has been to celebrate the game and the players and all that makes the sport special. So for this game it kind of gives us the opportunity to celebrate all that makes special baseball off the field,” Fareed said.
The reaction to the stunt was mixed on social media.
Those who didn’t enjoy the show seemed put off by the fact that they couldn’t do what they normally do when watching a game.
Other viewers weren’t fans of the reporters and people they interviewed, instead focusing on the baseball game.
Some just didn’t seem too impressed with the production, even though they didn’t know the entire game would be without announcers.
There were those who enjoyed the broadcast and liked how the game “breathed” with only the game’s natural sounds showing through.
Other fans of the “experiment” pointed out that the lack of constant conversation was soothing.
There were also viewers who felt like they were taken behind the scenes, which was nice for some.
This isn’t the first time a network has tried the shtick, for lack of a better word.
TNT attempted “players only” shows a few years ago, experimenting with NBA alumni on game shows instead of a traditional game-by-game and analyst setup. The idea was to let those who played in the past talk about those who play now. It did not work.
At the end of the 1980 NFL season, NBC was looking for something to attract fans for a Dolphins/Jets game in Miami, so they went the “announcer-less” route. The plan was for the AP announcer to give a little more information after each play to help viewers on the telecast. The rest was just fan reaction to the old Orange Bowl. It did manage to attract curious viewers, but not something NBC deemed enduring.
He was Don Ohlmeyer’s brain child. He was the first producer of Monday night football, produced and directed three Olympic broadcasts, won 16 Emmys and is a member of the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame. Yet this broadcasterless game continues to follow him.
“Everything I’ve done in my career,” Ohlmeyer told ESPN in 2010, “and that’s what I’ll be remembered for. It serves me well.
A lesser motivation for Ohlmeyer in presenting a game without announcers would have been to send a message that he thought announcers talked too much during TV shows, sometimes speaking less to inform than to fill the space with the obvious. He felt it encroached on compelling action.
The late Dick Enberg was football’s top announcer at the time, and although nervous that the game would be a success, he learned a few things. He told ESPN in a 2010 interview that the experience helped him in the long run.
“It made me better. Consciously, to this day, there are times in all the sports I play where I raise my hands as if to say to myself and my partner, ‘Let’s not talk. This moment is special, we don’t need to talk. Let it play. It’s a good lesson, even today. Let the game breathe.
Look, you already know where I am, but let me make your case. I’m not sure exactly how any announcer on a show really serves an audience. For me it’s just the opposite. A lot of people have the broadcast, but they don’t pay attention to every pitch and rely on announcers to let them know what’s going on.
If you start watching late in the fourth inning and it’s a 3-2 game, how did the game get to this? There is no one to recap you. Only the graphics can say the same.
Along these lines, there are no explanations of confusing or controversial pieces. How can such games or instances be clarified?
Part of what I love about playing and hearing when I watch TV is the interesting stories. The 30-year-old rookie’s trials and tribulations finally get a chance at the big league level. I want to hear about a pitcher developing a cutter in the offseason to help his cause. It feels a little empty when an opportunity to share good information is wasted because no one is in the booth.
Perhaps the biggest problem I have is that there’s no one to set the scene or create drama at key moments. These great sequences in a game need a play-by-play announcer to let you know how important this situation is to the game. Broadcasting needs words to support the image and underline the enormity of this what is happening at that time. It falls flat without it.
In some ways, I’d like to encourage more networks to try this because they’ll help me prove my point even more. These “fancy” TV shows only reinforce what some of us consider normal and necessary. We need play-by-play and analysis for the broadcast to be complete.