If you were one of the roughly 2% of households tuning into to ESPN’s Sunday final round coverage of The Open Championship you were witness to history. No not Rory McIlroy becoming only the 3rd golfer ever to win three major championships by the age of 25 (move over Jack and Tiger). An impressive feat but not the kind of accomplishment sports fans will be talking about years from now. No, what Sunday, and Saturday for that matter as well, proved is that major sporting events are much better when served in the morning as opposed to their traditional afternoon or evening time slots.
As the entire state of California shakes their collective head in agreement, it is not often that us folks on the East Coast are privileged to such an enjoyable viewing experience. Outside of The Open Championship what other major sporting events can be seen in the morning on the East Coast? Wimbledon? Premier League Soccer? An occasional Olympics? The point being, watching sports in the morning is a much more enjoyable experience for viewers because you don’t have to wait and when it’s over you still have an entire day in front of you.
What needs to happen now is for television networks and sports leagues to get together and agree to broadcast more of their weekend games in the early morning on the East Coast. And we’re not talking about just sporting events that occur across the pond in Europe and Asia but big time college and pro basketball, baseball and football.
But why would television networks and leagues agree to such an absurd change when they’re already making obscene amounts of money? What’s in it for them? Fair point. Television networks are motivated by two things: eyeballs and advertisers. But is it the time of day the games air that make them so attractive/lucrative or is it the games themselves?
For the sake of logic, let’s just say that major sporting events will be popular regardless of what time they air. By moving big games away from the evening/afternoon East Coast time slot to the morning the audience should follow. And if there is an audience then it’s only a matter of time before companies like Proctor & Gamble and Pfizer will rush to showcase their latest elixir for low “T”.
But what about the West Coast? Why would networks essentially sacrifice half their audience? Two reasons:
1) California has been spoiled for years now what with NFL games on at 10am so they can keep quiet. Plus people who live in Los Angeles are all vampires anyway who can subsist without much sleep and as long as they’re fed plenty of fresh squeezed pomegranate juice and e-cigarettes they should be able to catch the 6am start of most games.
2) Currently since networks like to start the really big games at 9pm EST most of the entire audience on the Eastern seaboard is asleep before the game is halfway done. Unless these people are falling asleep with their tv’s on this inactivity has to affect ratings. Also, why would advertisers continue to market their really popular products late at night if they know that a good portion of potential consumers are snoring on the couch?
Clearly the networks and advertisers will agree to move games to an early morning start on the East Coast but what about the athletes, the ultimate creatures of habit? Well since these professional are being paid ludicrous amounts of money to play a game they will eventually do as they’re told. And before player’s unions begin threatening any grievances they better check with their night owl members who will love this new schedule because no night games on the weekends means they’re now free to hit the clubs or read their Bibles much much earlier in the evening.
The big winner in all these changes are going to be fans on the East Coast who will now be able to wake up and watch all of their favorite sporting events in the morning instead of wasting all day waiting for the games to begin. Parenting will improve significantly because no true fan can focus on being a mom or dad when their favorite team is scheduled to play that night. And the counter programming in the morning is much more educational than what’s on in the afternoon so real progressive parents can watch the games in peace knowing that their kids are staring at a screen that may have some minor intellectual value.
Changing this system will be a massive undertaking involving television networks, professional sports leagues, athletes and fans but if enough of us sports addicts on the East Coast stand united, a revolution will follow and it will be televised. In the morning.