The average sports fan who watches a few games on occasion may not notice any considerable difference between local and national broadcasts of sporting events, but for regular viewers the differences can be stark.
Watching sporting events becomes a ritual for many fans, and any change to that ritual can be unnerving at times. This is one of the reasons that some fans do not like national broadcasts, as they alter the standard ritual of watching the fan’s favorite team play a game. The announcers are different, the graphics are different, and somehow the whole experience seems a little different.
This does not always have to be a bad thing, especially depending on the quality of the usual cable tv deals, but it is certainly a different thing. So, what are the differences between local and national broadcasts, and is one preferable to the other?
- In baseball especially, due to the sheer number of games played each season, the commentary crew for the local team becomes almost like a group of old friends to the fans who watch games regularly. Legendary voices like Vin Scully, Harry Kalas and Ernie Harwell have meant as much to the fans of their respective teams as the players on the field. This can lead to some discontentment for local fans, when they have to listen to an unfamiliar group of commentators from out of town. National commentators are also supposed to be objective in the way they call the game, which can dampen the excitement of the local fan that is used to the excitement of home team commentators.
- It’s not just familiarity with the commentators, either. Even nondescript local commentators have an advantage over their nationally-based counterparts, since they have a deep, daily knowledge of the team on the field. The best national commentators are able to combat this with careful study of the teams that are playing in a given game, but not every national commentator makes the added effort. This can lead to misstatements which go largely unnoticed by casual fans, but which can drive the hardcore fan crazy. Even in cable tv deals, the quality of commentary varies greatly by market, but the issue becomes magnified during a national telecast.
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- Some sports telecasts, both national and local, have moved in the direction of providing all of the information, all the time. This can be grating for fans who just want to sit down and enjoy a game without all the added graphics and statistics. In football broadcasts especially, fans are constantly bombarded with information, social media updates and advertisements. Sports are a big business, obviously, but many fans appreciate the often more toned-down style of cable tv deals.
- One advantage national telecasts bring is a general increase in production value. cable tv dealsÂ have grown by leaps and bounds in this regard, but national networks simply have the money necessary to go the extra mile. The differences are often subtle, but noticeable â€“ more camera angles, better sound quality, improved picture, etc. In a sport like baseball, the differences can go unnoticed, but extra cameras in football and hockey can really make a positive difference in the viewing experience.
- Every national sports telecast seems to be preceded by a pregame show with a studio full of analysts and former players. These broadcasts are often interesting and stimulating for the casual fan, which can catch up on the latest information about the teams involved before watching the game. For the more dedicated fans, however, these shows can seem like a lot of noise, presenting information the viewer already knows well.
- Many cable tv dealsÂ are also moving toward this model, but with more success in regards to the dedicated fan. The difference between a local and national pre- or post-game show is that the local show focuses in great detail on the local team, leaving out general information and league-wide statistics.
Overall, sports fans will watch sports, no matter what type of broadcast is presented. The differences between local and national telecasts can be boiled down to a matter of preference. Most fans are more than happy with a mixture of both.