The 2014 Vizio BCS National Championship on TSN


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Last week I watched the 2014 Vizio BCS National Championship on TSN. As some of you might know, it was a very exciting game. Unfortunately the team I liked did not win. But that’s not the reason I’m recording this.

Since I don’t know when, watching a sporting event on a Canadian television station has always been a drag. I always figured it was because of the endless repetition of commercials. In another life, I follow NASCAR. There is a NASCAR blog that has fascinated me for a while. It’s called Cawsnjaws and one of the things that they regularly do is provide a breakdown of all the commercials during a race.

As he 2014 Vizio BCS National Championship on TSN was about to start, I figured I would try to do something similar. I quickly found out that it wasn’t so easy…

First off, I was surprised to discover that there wasn’t as much duplication of actual commercials as I had thought. However what was deadly, was the amount of duplication of promo spots for other shows/games on TSN.

But now to the stats:
There were 22 commercial breaks. A total of 130 commercials or promo spots. For an average of 5.9 commercials per commercial break). I didn’t have a stopwatch, and as I was wanting to pay more attention to the game than the commercials, I have no idea how many were 30 second ads, and how many were one minute ads (or any other length for that matter).

The most different commercials during a break were eight, and the fewest was four, which kind of makes sense when you think about it.

Of the 130 commercials, 84 were what I would classify as paid. ie they were for some product or service that did not have any affiliation or connection to TSN or Bell, the company that owns TSN. Of those 84, 57 were different and 27 were duplicates, which calculates out to an average of each ad being played 1.5 times. As I said, I was surprised at the lack of duplication.

On the other hand, there were 21 separate promo (or what I would call “non-paying) ads for something on TSN or some other property owned by Bell. Those 21 ads were played a total of 44 times. Each promo spot being duplicated almost 40% more than each ad. And let me point out that the promo spots for the curling skins game and the hockey triple bill were repeated 5 times, each, and that there were three others that were repeated 4 times.

That’s just way way too much. Not only is it more than sufficient to make me chose not to watch the curling skins game and the hockey triple bill just because of the surfeit of announcements about them. But it also leads me to believe that whomever is responsible for ad sales doesn’t quite know what they are doing.

Yes, promo spots are important. But using them to fill up time is counter-productive. Given that ESPN was calling the shots as to when, how long and how many commercial breaks there were. TSN is left in the position of having X amount of time to fill with ads, rather than trying to schedule the ads they got in the best manner possible.

However, this ends up creating a situation where fully a third of TSN’s ad inventory during the game went unsold.

I doubt that the price of the ad time is too high because there were some very questionable advertisers during the game. Do Special K, Dawn, Dayquil, Febreze, iams, Mr. Clean, and Slimband strike you as products that are likely to be purchased by the fine folk who are watching a bunch of adolescent Americans try to beat each other up? I’ve put tham all on my grocery list so that the next time I go shopping, I don’t forget to purchase lots and lots of Special K, Dawn, Dayquil, Febreze, iams, Mr. Clean, and especially Slimband. And what’s with all the matchmaking ads? Both Lifemates and decided to try and convince me that I should join. But sadly, I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon.

Because of the questionable ads, I suspect that whomever does the ad buying for Special K, Dawn, Dayquil, Febreze, iams, Mr. Clean, and Slimband was not paying top dollar. In fact I guess that they in fact were more likely paying a bargain basement rate. So that can’t be why there is so much unsold inventory as there was.

For the record, there were exactly two ads for beer, and neither one was repeated. One of them wasn’t even completely for beer, as it was a combined ad for Carlsberg and the Premier League of Soccer. Which is kind of ridiculous, as beer and football go together almost as good as baseball and beer, or basketball and beer, or baseball and beer, or hockey and beer, or, you get the picture.

So what could be the major reason why there was so much unsold ad inventor? Most probably because nobody above the 49th parallel gets a good rat’s ass about the 2014 Vizio BCS National Championship (and as long as we’re at it, since I am above the 49th parallel, what or who is Vizio? – insert sound of Google search for the Vizio Wikipedia page – oh! That’s who they are. And it has nothing to do with where I am geographically and everything to do with not having ever contemplated purchasing a TV).

In the good old US of A, about 26 million people watched the game which apparently is a 9.4 share. Here in Canada, I would guess that maybe 9.4 people watched the game.

So, if no one gives a good rat’s ass about the 2014 Vizio BCS National Championship, why did TSN broadcast it? In this day and age, 70 thousand gazillion different TV stations. Where borders are only used as objects of convenience in order to make more money. Why didn’t TSN show something else?

There were four hockey games that night, two Spanish soccer games, seven Italian soccer games, and without even looking I’m certain that there were numerous poker games and other “not quite” sports that could have been used to fill the space either cheaper, thereby enabling TSN to make more money with their ad inventory by running even more cheap ads.

Those other hockey games, soccer games and poker tournaments are also quite likely more popular than the 2014 Vizio BCS National Championship, thereby enabling them to increase demand for their ad inventory and/or increase the price of their ad inventory. Both of which would have made them more money. I would have gone and found myself some TV someplace that did have access to ESPN (remember I have never purchased a TV in my life, I wasn’t watching the game at home) and everyone would have been happy.

Or if the suits at TSN and Bell somehow think that broadcasting the 2014 Vizio BCS National Championship with a full one third of the ad inventory unsold is a viable business model. Then they should hire a couple more creative folk and voice people to do their promo stuff. That way they would be able to show a larger variety of promo ads and/or all the promo ads wouldn’t look exactly the same. Both of which would go a very long way towards making TSN not look so rinky-dink.

There’s a reason why when you type “TSN promo” into YouTube, the resulting videos have two digit views. They are horrible, almost as horrible as watching an American sporting event on TSN.