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Friday’s Virginia-Maryland broadcast on FS1 is not a game that you would expect to make a lot of headlines. However, FS1’s coverage of the game was so disheveled in so many different ways that it was the talk of sports fans on Friday night. And it was for one reason and one reason only – it was a remote broadcast.
FS1 missed important information about players who might be sitting or playing the game, penalties that changed the context of the game, and more. It was a bewildering event that sold viewers well short of what should be expected of a major network and a nationally televised game.
Remote broadcasts became the norm during the COVID pandemic and with good reason. But nowadays they are being done for the sole purpose of cutting costs at networks. They’ve been used frequently for college basketball and other sports, but college football is the second most popular sport in the country only behind the NFL. Doing remote broadcasts makes it look like a second-rate event.
It’s one thing to do a remote broadcast when there’s a limited number of players on a basketball court or even a tennis match. College football rosters have 85 scholarship athletes. There are 22 players on the field at a time. And there are 8 officials on the field. There is so much that announcers are going to miss by not being at the stadium and only calling a game off a monitor. FS1’s Eric Collins and Devin Gardner seem like a fun, energetic, capable duo. But FS1 is putting them in a terrible position by making them guess at what’s happening in the stadium.
Furthermore, FS1 doubles and quadruples down on remote telecasts. After calling Virginia-Maryland late Friday night, Collins and Gardner turned around and called Boise State-North Dakota at 12:30 PM ET on Saturday. Incredibly, Alex Faust and Petros Papadakis have called two games on Saturdays in the early afternoon and late night for FS1. How can these broadcast teams be at their best calling two games within 24 or even 12 hours?
What’s even worse is the camera shots Fox used on Friday night to make it appear as though they sent the announcers to the stadium when they clearly did not. Folks at home can tell the difference in quality between a remote college football broadcast and ones where the announcers are actually at the stadium. The drop off in quality is like going from the Georgia Bulldogs to a Division II squad.
When it comes to remote broadcasts, the facts are obvious – the announcers don’t win, the broadcast doesn’t win, the fans definitely don’t win. The only thing that benefits is the network bottom line. Everyone else has to pay the price.