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dcawrey
dcawrey
1/14/2017 10:04:11 PM
User Rank
Platinum
Re: A modest proposal
I think one thing we are seeing is that people don't want games to be as long as they are these days. 

Take the college football championship. It was four hours long! It's hard to want to sit through that entire game, even though I have to admit it was a pretty good one. 

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JohnBarnes
JohnBarnes
1/13/2017 2:38:16 PM
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Returning to a suspicion
DMendyk, Binge watching isn't really "just the highlights" or the "good parts version." That's what click watching is. Binge watching is a way of enjoying complexity and volume of material -- there's a whole huge world/universe to get to know and remember -- but the causal connections (if any, anymore) between all those events are downplayed by the creators and generally ignored by the audience. Big moments tend more to reveals and less toward reversals; endings are less "game over/winners/losers" and much more either "returns to rest" or "here is what it was all about." The problem for sports coverage is that much of the set up is dull -- the clock ticking down as a team tries to get into position for one last score is often ticking down through a series of routine plays (eg basketball, American football, or soccer). The whole pathway to bases loaded, 2 out, 3-2 count can be dull as dishwater visually, and then the situation itself might resolve with a phhhht instead of a ker-POW! And if the decisive moments ar included in a highlight show, all they do is convince the casual watcher that a game is dull!

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dmendyk
dmendyk
1/13/2017 9:53:02 AM
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Returning to a suspicion
Hi, John -- It's clear that our brains (individual and collective) adapt to our environment a lot faster than other parts of our bodies. Ultrabroadband networks, smartphones, and other technology developments have already had a noticeable effect on brain function, and this stimulus-driven adaptation is certain to continue. It's an obvious point, but one that we tend not to think too much about. But plus ca change, in a way. Instead of burrowing into War and Peace (or even the latest bodice-ripper), the kids are binge-watching stuff for hours on end. To your point about moments vs. stories, you're right -- just show us the highlights. The rest is noise.

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JohnBarnes
JohnBarnes
1/12/2017 11:18:40 PM
User Rank
Platinum
Returning to a suspicion
I'll mention here again that movies, TV, books, and other "story" media have seen a steady decline in the last 40 years in  the number of people who appear to watch/read for plot; for whatever reason, of Aristotle's "big six" from the Poetics, character and theme seem to be ascendant, spectacle holding its own, and plot and diction taking a long slide. Bestselling thrillers, both books and movies, are noticeably less complex than they were in the 1940-70 era (it's hard to imagine The Third Man, (3 or 6*) Days of the Condor, Day of the Jackal, or The Ipcress File being hits now). Teachers report kids have much more problems with plot summaries (and some of the complicated YA classics like I Am The Cheese or The Chocolate War are becoming less readable to the YAs themselves).  Mystery, historicals, suspense-horror, and hard science fiction, all complex-plot genres, are declining in readership among 20-somethings (whereas things with complicated details but simple plots like much of fantasy, gross-out horror, and crime thrillers are rising).

So maybe it's just part of the general trend that as attention spans shrink, moments are popular and stories aren't.  And watching a whole game is watching a story unfold; much of the meaning of the 4th quarter is found in what happened in the 1st-3rd.

 

*They changed the number from the book title for the movie title.

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JohnBarnes
JohnBarnes
1/12/2017 11:04:39 PM
User Rank
Platinum
Re: A modest proposal
adi, dmendyk,

A classic problem with changing any game to improve audience draw is that people's objections are not necessarily the reasons they don't watch, and often the real reasons are at the core of the game. Tennis experimented with Van Allen Simplified Scoring for a couple of decades (1 set=31 points, win by 2, sudden death point if tied at 39). Turned out that the "purists" hated the complete erasure of everything they knew about strategy and tactics, and though casual watchers had complained for years that you never knew how long a tennis match would last, knowing within 5 minutes didn't make them any more likely to watch.

Similarly, casual fans generally like to see more hits and runs in baseball, but higher scoring games don't pull them in to watch, and the core audience wants to occasionally see a "pitcher's duel" eventually won 1-0.

The US experiment with the Major Indoor Soccer League relied on polls of American sports fans who said the constant restarts slowed the game too much, and came up with the idea of replacing the touch lines with a reboundable wall. This turned out to once again take away things that interested the purists without even slightly improving turnout of the casuals.

Ultimately why anyone digs a sport is a mystery, even to the peope who do. As Louis Armstrong was supposed to have said about jazz, if you gotta ask, you're never gonna know.

 

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dmendyk
dmendyk
1/12/2017 5:30:04 PM
User Rank
Platinum
Re: A modest proposal
Funny thing -- today the commissioner of the NBA announced that the league is looking into ways to streamline the endings of games. In one recent game, the last 30 or so seconds took more than 9 minutes to play.

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Ariella
Ariella
1/12/2017 12:54:04 PM
User Rank
Author
Re: A modest proposal
@Adi sounds pretty exhausting. BTW if you have any interest in the American parallel of baseball, I just found this, which has a lot of fun with data visualizations pertaining to Babe Ruth. My favorite is the one that compares his record to the #12.

This is right on point with what I've written about misleading visualizations  

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Adi
Adi
1/12/2017 12:21:27 PM
User Rank
Author
Re: A modest proposal
@Ariella - they still do. The format is still used and is still very popular. It has four innings - two for each side. But in cricket, three outs don't make an inning. You have to get 10 "batters" out in each inning.

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Ariella
Ariella
1/12/2017 12:01:15 PM
User Rank
Author
Re: A modest proposal
@Adi hard to believe there was a time when people had the attention span and patience to follow a 5 day game.  How many innings would that be?

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dmendyk
dmendyk
1/12/2017 11:12:21 AM
User Rank
Platinum
Re: A modest proposal
Over the past 20 years, U.S. sports leagues have done some time-shaving tweaks, but the end-to-end duration of games has not shrunk accordingly. "Purists" don't mind longer contests, but the time commitment just doesn't sit well with more casual viewers. It's hard -- but not impossible -- to imagine sports programming to move more into the nonlinear world. But if that does start to accelerate, the value of live broadcasts will erode even more.

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