April 8 - My Incredible Shrinking Television
To commemorate our move from Georgia State to DePaul in 1994, my wife and I purchased a 19"
We've never been the 'big tv' couple as we've always lived modestly, but now I'm beginning to
understand why people buy these monster-size, wall-fitting televisions. We still have that 19"er, but
I'm seeing less and less of what I want to watch. ESPN's original 28/58 ticker gave me a chance to
catch up on news/scores twice an hour, which I thought was fine. I don't bet on games so I didn't
need instant score updates or "Priority Score" updates (who decides what games get in the Priority
category, anyway?), so 28/58 was fine.
But have you been watching sports on television lately? We get the score of the game we're watching
on top, then one or sometimes two scrolls across the bottom 100% of the time now. If you want me to
watch the game, just let me do so!
The absolute worst culprits, though, are our highlights/recap shows. Watching SportsCenter now is
like watching a video game. I'm trying to watch the anchor's report on whatever story/game they are
covering, but I also have the bottom of the screen scroll and now a pop-up which tells me which
story/game is being covered next.
I thought I was getting this triple exposure under control, but then I found something called The Last
Word or The Final Score on Fox SportsNet. This show is like the master's level on some video games
I have seen. We have the anchor going through the usual recap/highlights. Then, along the bottom,
there are several scrolls, NBA, NHL, College basketball, etc. That would be challenging enough, but
on the right is a ladder-like thing which tells me what stories/highlights are coming up. I must admit I
am not at the level where I can watch, much less remember, anything I've seen, when involved with
this show, just can't do it. When I watch this show, only 40% of my screen is actually the show itself,
with 60% being absorbed by all the other info that is available.
I'm going to place some of the blame for this on the television news networks. After 9/11,
CNN/Headline News and Fox News kept their scrolls along the bottom going 100% of the time,
feeding off the MSNBCs and Financial Networks, who REALLY needed the scroll for instant business
decisions as the days' transactions occurred. The sports networks have picked up the ball (nice
metaphor, huh?) and now innundate us with scores/stats, etc.
How many times has this happened- you're watching SportsCenter in the morning and the game you
couldn't stay up late to watch gets its turn in the spotlight. So you're watching the first half highlights,
as the anchors start building the drama ("....led by 7 at the half...") and then, oops, the final score
comes rolling across the bottom. Hey, it's only a little bit of drama that I'm missing, but let me have
that, please. Maybe there is a solution down the road.You know how our cable systems have the
ability to block certain programs from children watching them? How about a Ticker Blocker that
prevents the ticker from showing up and I can get my full screen back? Or give me a button on my
remote that allows me to access the Ticker on the screen when I want it? I'm going to hold out for
another year and hope that Comcast/Time Warner can come up with this innovation (I'll throw in a
buck a month for this service).
Otherwise, next year's tax refund might have to mean goodbye for the old 19"er.
Final thought: How excited are you today about buying season tickets for the Knicks next year?