Saturday, August 3, 2013

Don't Blame Networks for Scant LPGA Broadcasts

I've noticed quite a bit of chatter on Twitter this morning and yesterday complaining about the TV coverage of the Women's British Open. Specifically, that the first two days of ESPN's coverage was "only" three hours long. Obviously, men's majors are given much longer coverage. Three hours seems to be the maximum for an LPGA tournament, even majors.

And also, this morning ESPN aired a re-run of last night's NFL Live and the network's golf broadcast began an hour later. Rather than starting at the same time, going one hour later, and providing an extra hour of coverage, ESPN chose to go one hour later but also start one hour later, inserting a re-run ahead of the WBO.

So the network is getting bashed on Twitter for not treating a women's major the same as it would a men's major, for not helping women's golf to grow and attract new fans.

Hey, I wish every LPGA tournament got six hours of coverage a day on a major network. But ESPN doesn't deserve any criticism for its broadcast schedule at the WBO, nor does any other TV network deserve criticism for the way it broadcasts LPGA.

TV networks aren't charities. It's not their responsibility to subsidize the LPGA or women's golf. That's getting it backwards. It's the tour's job grow the LPGA and widen the appeal of women's golf.

It's the network's job to put programming on the air that will attract advertisers willing to pay high enough fees to make that broadcast profitable for the network. Period.

Unfortunately, that leads to some pretty awful stuff winding up on TV - monster and ghost shows on the History Channel, for example (is there a more mis-named network on the air today than the History Channel?) - and some pretty good stuff either not being broadcast at all, or getting less airtime that its fans believe it deserves.

So if ESPN believes a re-run of NFL Live will be more-watched than the Women's British Open in that timeslot, will be more appealing to advertisers; or if the Golf Channel thinks a re-run of a PGA Tour tournament (or a teaching show) will get higher ratings than live LPGA tournaments; it's because that's what their market research tells them. They are protecting the bottom line, not doing charity work.

If you're mad about the poor TV coverage that women's golf generally receives, then go out and talk to your golf buddies and to your friends and co-workers and convince them that they need to get interested in the LPGA. Convince them that women's golf and LPGA golfers are worth getting interested in. Go out and convert some naysayers, go out and recruit new fans. That's what the LPGA needs. Not rote whining directed at the networks.

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