There’s always been plenty of discussion about reducing commercial loads, but eliminating in-game ads entirely is highly unusual outside of soccer. That’s what Fox Sports is going to do with a women’s basketball broadcast, though. Their Dec. 30 broadcast of St. John’s-Seton Hall on FS2 will have no commercials, and will also feature both head coaches miked-up. Here’s more on that from Fox’s release:
FOX Sports offers viewers an unprecedented all-access pass to the St. John’s at Seton Hall women’s basketball game Friday, Dec. 30, (7:00 PM ET), as both head coaches wear live microphones during a commercial-free presentation on FS2. This first-of-its-kind telecast allows viewers to hear what the coaches say live on the sidelines, in the huddles and in the locker rooms.
Lisa Byington and LaChina Robinson call the game courtside with live audio from St. John’s head coach Joe Tartamella and Seton Hall head coach Anthony Bozzella. FS2 is also inside the team huddles live during timeouts and between quarters, going to break just once, at the start of halftime, to allow crews to be in place in the team locker rooms to listen in live to both coaches’ speeches.
Miking up players and coaches has been done in a few other sports, but this is an interesting level of access Fox has here. As MediaPost’s Wayne Friedman writes, though, it’s the commercial-free experiment that’s particularly notable:
New TV business formulas are being mulled all the time. Perhaps a new sports league — or one based on an existing sport — might find reason to offer some commercial-free telecast or nearly commercial-free sports viewing.
All that means grousing new TV consumers — in the future — might be looking for new ways to cut down on other TV advertising time. In turn, they might not mind paying subscribers fees in lieu of watching free TV programming (which, of course isn’t totally free, coming from a pay TV provider and/or internet provider).
This is a pretty low-risk gamble for Fox, as one women’s college basketball game on FS2 isn’t exactly something that would have been pulling in killer ad rates in the first place. This will certainly spark some discussion about the game and perhaps increase the audience, and it’s an interesting experiment. Commercial-free broadcasts in general probably are a long way off, but it’s notable to see a broadcaster trying this, and it will be worth watching how it goes over. If it’s a success, this idea may wind up spreading further.