commercial breaks during the Tour?
Yesterday’s exciting Tour de France stage saw popular racer Thomas Voeckler (who won many fans for his courageous defense of the Yellow Jersey in 2004). Voeckler pounced on his breakaway companions and rolled into Perpignan alone for his first-ever stage win.
But for many Portlanders — who were watching the action unfold live on their televisions via the Versus sports channel — all they saw was a commercial (and ironically, one person reported it was an ad for Comcast).
The inopportune break really peeved 47 year-old Lewis & Clark law professor Dan Rohlf. “This morning the break occurred just seconds before the end of the race,” he wrote, “Viewers missed all the riders finishing.”
And Rohlf wasn’t the only one miffed by not being able to see the finale unfold.
“Having a commercial wipe out the last two minutes of two and a half hours of race coverage had me and my teen-age daughter yelling and screaming at the TV.”
— Dan Rohlf, Tour fan
Scott Fitzwater wrote on the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association email list that he “freaking can’t believe that Comcast stuffed in another ad right at the finish… That is just incredibly unbelievable!” Fitzwater had already called Comcast to complain about the irritating ads “and they pleaded ignorance.” Now, Fitzwater wrote, “I’m ready to move to another carrier.”
Rohlf said that he and several of his friends purchased cable TV specifically to watch the Tour and that he watches the live morning broadcast to hear the legendary announcer duo of Paul Sherwen and Phil Liggett.
Rohlf suspects the abrupt, mid-sentence commercial break might be the result of corporate shenanigans; “There have been lots of weird commercial interruptions when the network announcers have been in mid-sentence, leading me to wonder whether some entity below the Versus network level is sneaking in extra commercials in an effort to squeeze more money out of the broadcasts.”
The Versus coverage is being carried locally by Comcast Cable and neither we nor Rohlf could get a hold of a representative to ask them about the poorly timed break.
Other readers of the OBRA list chimed in to say it’s not Comcast’s fault and that the commercial breaks are established by providers.
Regardless of who’s to blame, local Tour fan George Schreck thinks that the ads don’t work. “Comcast is not doing any of their advertisers any favors,” he wrote on the OBRA list, “because the ads only serve to enrage the viewer rather than make the viewer more likely to buy the product.”
Rohlf agrees. He said watching the Tour is a family affair at his house and that, “having a commercial wipe out the last two minutes of two and a half hours of race coverage had me and my teen-age daughter yelling and screaming at the TV.”
Wondering where to watch the Tour locally? Check out this entry on the Everyday Athlete blog and stay tuned for our local viewing roundup coming soon.