Let's make two points. First, it's time for the National Football League (and for that matter, every professional sports league) to allow Spanish-language TV coverage from opening day through the Super Bowl.
Second, the world of English-language NFL TV coverage (and for that matter, every professional sports league) will not collapse along the way.
At CBS' pre-Super Bowl media day in New York two weeks ago, one reporter asked CBS Sports chief Sean McManus why there's no separate Spanish-language TV coverage of the big game. To their credit, CBS this season instituted Spanish audio of all its NFL games using SAP, and will do so again with the Super Bowl Feb. 3. As for why no separate Super Bowl video, not much of an answer.
Upon further review, as in following up with McManus and other CBS executives about when Spanish TV coverage will accompany all their games, the sense you came away with is that the NFL must make the call. Why don't they? Perhaps the league still holds a fear that their huge English-language ratings will be cannibalized if they move for full Spanish coverage.
To use football terminology, the NFL already penalizes Latino viewers for coverage interference. The penalty remains despite circumstances clearly to the contrary. They've let ESPN Deportes do their own Monday Night Football thing for several years--increasing that network's viewership. No one at ESPN is challenging that call with a red flag. They get the added coverage (with dedicated Spanish-speaking commentators and graphics) gives them a broader, diverse audience and ad revenue.
Telemundo experimented with a few NBC Sunday Night Football games this past autumn on a number of its stations. Same result--good audience and no one at NBC or their affiliates crying for lost yardage.
And for people who maintain that big sports events will lose audience in a big way under this new proposed order, let's remind them that for most of the last decade, Fox Deportes has carried live Spanish coverage of the World Series and League Championship games. Any defecting calls from Fox or parent News Corp? Not a one. Indeed, Fox allowed Fox Deportes to simulcast their Pac-12/Big 12 Saturday night college football games this fall, and will simulcast the Daytona 500 auto race next month.
Penalty time is over, NFL. Make the necessary deals to have all your games live on Spanish-language networks, playoffs and Super Bowl included. Ditto the National Hockey League and NBA. The growing multicultural TV audience will thank you for scoring a touchdown with them.
Until the next time, stay well and stay tuned!
Simon Applebaum is host/producer of Tomorrow Will Be Televised, the Internet radio-distributed program all about TV, running live Mondays and Fridays on BlogTalk Radio--and soon to premiere as a weekly series on the new UBC-TV (UB for Urban Broadcasting) network. Replays of recent episodes are available at www.blogtalkradio.com/simonapple04. Have a question or comment? Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org, or the new Twitter hashtag @UBCSimonTWBT.
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