When compared to the rest of the league, Portland Trail Blazers road broadcasts will have a noticeably different feel to them during the 2022-23 NBA season. It was announced on Thursday that the Blazers will not be sending either their television or radio announce teams on road trips, instead opting to have them announce the games remotely.
During his show on 620 Rip City Radio in Portland, host Chad Doing mentioned that he had heard that the announcers would not go on the road with the Blazers. His co-host, Dwight Jaynes, then confirmed the report.
“I have confirmed from several sources that that is the plan for the Trail Blazers,” Jaynes said. “That they will not be sending radio or television on the road with their team. Also, what I’ve heard and I’ve tried to check this out, I have not found any other team in the league that’s doing this. I believe they may be the only team in the league doing it — when they’re on the road. And I just think that’s really unfortunate and difficult.”
Jones added that “although all the broadcasters will enjoy more time at home, they did not ask for this.”
I have been told that although all the broadcasters will enjoy more time at home, they did not ask for this. https://t.co/7cYkEzmXvB
— Dwight Jaynes (@dwightjaynes) August 18, 2022
This was common during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. There was concern about keeping numbers in traveling parties down. So, announcers didn’t make road trips. Temporarily, it worked OK. But there’s a reason that as restrictions begin to lift, teams started to send full crews on road trips. Logistically speaking, it’s a much better broadcast.
In a game during the 2021 MLB season, New York Yankees announcer John Sterling called a home run that was, in fact, a replay from a previous game. And while Sterling is known for making the occasional gaffe, this one wasn’t his fault. He wasn’t in the stadium and was completely at the mercy of what was being shown on his monitor. Since what was on his monitor was the same two teams in the same stadium as the game he was calling live, he had no reason to think it was a replay.
Additionally, if broadcasters aren’t on location when calling games, they don’t get a full picture of what’s happening. They can see a player drive to the hoop. They can’t necessarily see his teammate sneaking out to the three-point line as the play develops.
Furthermore, a remote crew is at the mercy of the home team’s director and cameramen. An audience in Portland might prefer to see shots of the Blazers bench during a time-out. The crew in Los Angeles, though, would naturally be more focused on LeBron James and company.
The sole advantage here is that it cuts costs. But given the value of the franchise, that shouldn’t be such a necessity. The goal should be to provide the best broadcast possible — as long as it can be done in a safe way. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the objective with this move.