(Alternate title: Better Late Than Never)
Okay, so after the Lynx' Media Day I got a bit sidetracked and ran a few errands. Long story short, I'm about twelve hours behind posting. My deepest apologies, especially considering that traffic was exceedingly heavy following Tuesday's PPV -- a trend that has continued since the first broadcast game. PPV truly is good for one thing from my standpoint -- TUC's popularity. Thank you again for your support. (I sound like a Bartles & Jaymes commercial, and yes, I know I'm dating myself heavily by stating so.)
Alrighty then -- let's get to the game itself.
Firstly, I learned my lesson several games ago, and began viewing PPV broadcasts anywhere from 30 minutes to a full hour after the puck was dropped. Here's an elementary math lesson for next year that I suggest all of you learn: PVR + PPV = freedom. Of course with the PVR, you can start the game on time and pause to grab a snack, answer the phone, go to the bathroom etc. But if you start late, it also allows you to fast forward through the lagging segments, thus reducing the frustrating nature of the broadcast itself. Pure genius. PVR is a necessary tool for any hockey fan to logistically survive the NHL's pay-per-view broadcasting. I highly suggest to anyone who's thinking of ponying up for this "service" again to invest in the box.
(Aside: Does it sound like I could sell PVRs? I have a traditional digital box in my bedroom, and it might as well be a Betamax. The thing is useless. I've heard of people becoming addicted to TiVo in the States, and now I totally understand. I swear, one of these days I'll be out and about, and will raise my hand as if I'm holding a remote control, attempting to pause and rewind real life.)
Alright, so we all know what happened -- the game cut out with approximately four minutes left in the second period. The Senators put up a "technical difficulties" slate, and all of sudden we were on the Devils' feed. (Rob Brodie reports that Bell ExpressVu fans were even less fortunate.) We weren't privy to much of the Devils' broadcast -- the tale end of a discussion regarding Lou Lamoriello and a commercial was all that was shown, before the Sens feed returned. We caught the last bit of Roy Mlakar interview, and the 3rd period began at 19:30.
Now the Sens aren't going to think much of this, but remember that moment in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy stepped out of her tornado-blown home, and into that magical land? That's what the Devils' feed was like to me. Colour...clarity...legible words...it was fantastic. And then it was gone. I'm not kidding -- I was crestfallen.
For the record, we also received a moment of foreshadowing in the 2nd when the feed suddenly switched to a screen listing the channels for an MLB preview. I sent a friend an SMS when the first glitch occurred. Here's what he sent back:
"Consider that an upgrade. Expect an extra $5 on your next cable bill."
Cut to this morning when the major fallout obviously began. The cable companies allegedly won't take the blame, because they state the problem had nothing to do with their end of the broadcast (in other words, the delivery of the feed to customers) -- it should be noted however, that some have been handing out full or partial refunds. During an interview with J.R and Garry Galley on the Team 1200 yesterday aft, Jim Steel, the Sens' V.P. of broadcasting, made a feeble attempt to smooth things over. The reason the Sens are offering (via Steel) is that the company providing many franchises and sports (MLB, NHL etc.) with the routing of the feeds, had a major glitch. Hence the loss of the feed -- hence the loss of many other feeds from other games. Long story short, don't blame the Sens.
Hmmm. I guess the Devils don't use said company to route their broadcasting. Funny that.
However, the highlight of the interview came when J.R. brought up the clarity of the broadcasts themselves. The reason Steel gave (and I'm paraphrasing because I was listening in the car) was that the Sens played most of the PPV games on the road in older buildings (i.e. Mellon Arena, MSG etc.). These buildings have poor angles for cameras to use, which accounted for the disappointing quality of the feed.
Mr. Steel, two questions: 1) Did the Penguins and Rangers supply the Sens with that subpar camera lens we're all forced to view the broadcast through; 2) What possible reason do the Senators have for the equally poor feed from Scotiabank Place itself, during a PPV game on March 8th? Granted I wasn't here during construction, but if the Sens' arena was built in the Precambrian Era, that's news to me.
The interview wrapped up with the perpetual dangling carrot known as HD PPV being thrown out once more ("at least two years away...definitely not next year, but we're seriously looking into it"), and I was left rolling my eyes in frustration.
The Sens can claim that there will be growing pains, and all teams had them when they made their initial foray into PPV. As a paying customer, I've earned the right to be impatient, and to expect more. I don't really care if someone is feeling their way through a process -- I'm spending my money on a service that this team is providing. Nearly everyone expects better for their $10.95, and the last thing they want to hear after a decidedly subpar attempt at five PPV games, are a multitude of excuses about remote cards and decrepit arenas.
They can dangle the carrot, but let me state right now that I won't be taking a nibble until it's within biting reach. To put it plainly: I have absolutely no intention of purchasing any other PPV games until the Sens broadcast the games in HD. End of story. They threw down the gauntlet -- let's see if they actually have it in them to pony up. This might mean that on weeks next year when games are on PPV, certain columns will not be Sens-related. I don't think many readers would have a problem with that.
Finally, let's finish this ramble off with an email from reader Mike, who made the unfortuate error of experiencing his first PPV game on Tuesday night. Think things are better at the bars? Think again.
Don't know if you're collecting PPV thoughts from readers this time,
but I thought I'd send along my first experience with the Sens PPV.
After listening to the first 4 PPV games on the radio, my wife and I
decided at the last minute to meet friends at the pub for a beer and
the game. That's where we ran into our first problem. We live in
Barrhaven and our usual spot when we go out for Sens games is
Greenfields. However, we got there and discovered that they hadn't
ordered the game. We moved on to the Barley Mow and discovered the
same thing. Finally we moved on the Broadway B&G which we knew would
have the game and just barely snagged the last table in the place (in
a less than primo location obviously) just as the anthems were ending.
So our first discovery was that uptake of the the PPV, at least in
Barrhaven, was less than stellar. Only one of the 3 main bars in
B'haven had. Not that B'haven is a typical bar scene, but in one of
the largest suburbs, we had a tough time finding the game. I don't
know if uptake is similar elsewhere.
We couldn't really hear the audio, so I can't comment much on the
broadcast itself. I will sadly never know what Chris Phillips had to
say about his shed, nor will I know the answer to "Who is funnier Dean
or Gord". One thing I did notice (and annoyed me) was that on the two
screens I could see, there was no sign of the game clock or score. I
think this might have just been Broadway's set-up though. The
"technical difficulties" apology message was cut off on one screen but
visible on the other.
At one point during the game the menu for MLB Extra Innings popped up
for about 30 seconds. I'm not sure if this was a mistake by someone at
the bar, or if it was the feed but I assume the former.
Of course the topper was the outage late in the second period.
I can't imagine having paid for PPV. I know I'd be among those calling
Rogers this morning if I had, and I wouldn't be a repeat customer.
Grade for Tuesday night's broadcast: D
Final PPV Grade: Honestly, I'm hovering between a C- and D. I get a twinge of sympathy approximately once a fortnight, and I seem to be coming down with it at present. If you have seen some (or all) of the games, send in your grades and I'll post them later.
(Alternate title: Better Late Than Never)