When the Portland Trail Blazers go on the road during the 2022-23 season, their announcers will not go with them. They'll broadcast remotely. When the Portland Trail Blazers go on the road during the 2022-23 season, their announcers will not go with them. They’ll broadcast remotely.

Less than one week after it was reported the Portland Trail Blazers were going to have their TV broadcasters call road games remotely this season, the team has already reversed course on the decision.

Team president Dewayne Hankins joined Portland’s Rip City Radio 620 to discuss the decision with hosts Chad Doing and Dwight Jaynes on Monday. And during the interview, Hankins quickly acknowledged the Trail Blazers heard the backlash and responded accordingly.

“I wanted to just kind of set the record straight on the broadcast piece,” Hankins said. “And just say we’ve heard you guys in the media, we’ve heard all the fans. We’re always trying to improve, we’re always trying to be that next-generation broadcast. We think we have some really good ideas which I’m excited to talk to you guys about it.

“But first and foremost, just want to say, yeah, we’re going to put the team on the road. We’re going to travel the broadcasters, and we’re just excited to make sure fans have that experience, that our broadcasters to have that experience. We would never want to do anything that is viewed, as this was, as something that was negative to the fan experience.”

Credit Hankins and the Trail Blazers for realizing the mistake and adjusting quickly. They responded to the fan backlash and course corrected immediately rather than waiting for a brutal broadcasting gaffe to occur midseason.

But attempting to spin the decision to have announcers call road games remotely as being innovative or an example of an improved broadcast is comical. Clearly, the decision was a cost-savings attempt and one they eventually thought wasn’t worth it after seeing and hearing the negative response.

If the Blazers truly believed this was about innovation and improving their broadcast, then stick with the decision through the backlash and show the fans why it helps to create a “next-generation” broadcast. The problem, however, is that we just witnessed an era where announcers in all sports called games remotely. For more than a year, announcers called road games remotely to reduce traveling parties during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. As COVID restrictions lessened, announcers slowly began traveling again because it creates a better viewing and listening product.

Announcers calling games remotely was fine, but it’s not the same as having them on location. There were technical issues on occasion and there were some brutal gaffes caused by announcers being confined to watching the game on a monitor instead of having the action in front of them. And the teams that have continued to broadcast remotely are still experiencing similar issues.

We spent more than a year watching examples of why broadcasters should travel to road games, the Trail Blazers can’t now claim keeping announcers at home will improve the product as if it’s never been tried before. They attempted to make a cost-cutting move, but the fans and media were not happy about it and the franchise did the right thing by quickly reneging on the controversial decision.

[Rip City Radio 620]

About Brandon Contes

Brandon Contes is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously helped carve the sports vertical for Mediaite and spent more than three years with Barrett Sports Media. Send tips/comments/complaints to bcontes@thecomeback.com