AFN makes a promise: No more early ends to NCAA coverage
Stars and Stripes March 18, 2006
WASHINGTON — Did you catch the end of the Marquette-Alabama game last night? Neither did the rest of the American Forces Network viewers.
With 4:44 left in the opening round NCAA basketball tournament game Thursday, Marquette went on a 7-0 run to close the gap to 81-77. But instead of the late scoring run, AFN viewers saw “Pardon the Interruption” on AFN Sports, and “The Hot List” on AFN Xtra, as the network cut away from the live action.
Officials promise it won’t happen again.
“We’re telling our operators now that if CBS is still showing games, don’t switch over,” said Mary Carnes, spokeswoman for the American Forces Network Broadcast Center. “In the future, during live coverage, AFN will stay with CBS as long as they are in tournament coverage.”
The problem Thursday, she said, was due in part to the bomb scare at San Diego State University earlier in the day, which pushed tip-off times for games at Cox Arena back 70 minutes.
Most viewers barely noticed the delay because CBS switched to coverage of other games. But, at 11:30 p.m. Central Europe Time, when CBS primary coverage feed was scheduled to break for several hours, the Marquette-Alabama contest was still a few minutes from completion.
Since the games being aired were considered “bonus coverage” at that point, Carnes said, AFN operators switched over to the regularly scheduled programming. So viewers missed Alabama hanging on for a 90-85 upset.
Carnes said the game — including its final minutes — was rebroadcast Friday morning as part of AFN’s plans to show tape-delayed games at more convenient time slots. The network will continue that second-day coverage through the tournament as well.
But viewers, like those in the United States, still won’t see every match-up; on Thursday, CBS decided to cut away from the Nevada-Montana contest on Thursday after it turned into a blowout.
Those kinds of programming decisions aren’t made by AFN, Carnes said, so video is not available for those games.
On Saturday, the network will show 22 hours of live and taped NCAA coverage on AFN Prime, AFN Sports and AFN Xtra. Live broadcasts resume at 7 p.m. CET.
Stars and Stripes reporter Geoff Ziezulewicz contributed to this story.