26 January 2010
Heidi does Australia (Tennis in Melbourne Park)
What is the role of an exectuive anyway? Isn't it to execute, to choose, to make tough choices? So where were the television Channel 7 executives at 5:55 pm today Sydney time? I know, it's Australia Day, and I'm celebrating with my family. I enjoy the barbie and the lamb (thanks, Sam, good recommendation). We had a lovely day. The weathermen were dead wrong calling for rain, and I felt confident in their wrongness so we did the laundry and hung it out this morning.
Speaking of wrong calls, back to Channel 7. You see, Channel 7 rides the back of the Australian Open (tennis) each year this time. It's a good partnership, almost as good as the Woodies.
So what did the executives do or not do? In the fourth set of the match between Marin Cilic of Croatia and Andy Roddick, with everything on the line, Channel 7 said, 'we'll be back at 7:30, with the match between Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray.' That's it. No apologies, no "you can see the entire match in its entirety..." nothing. Wow, if it had been Lleyton Hewitt or Sam Stosur in the match, would the Aussies have pulled out for ...get this...local news! Following that in the next hour would be a feature news magazine program and a soap opera. But no more coverage of the crucial match.
Shame, shame executives. What were you (not) thinking?
Wikipedia reminds us about this similar event, four decades ago, from the US and the mistake the network executives made that day. "In American football, the Heidi Game (often referred to, facetiously, as the "Heidi Bowl") refers to a famous American Football League (AFL) game between the New York Jets and the Oakland Raiders, played on November 17, 1968 in Oakland, California. This game is memorable largely because the NBC television network terminated the broadcast in the Eastern and Central time zones with 65 seconds left to play in the game in favor of broadcasting a pre-scheduled two-hour airing of Heidi, a new made-for-TV version of the classic children's story. (The telecast included commercial breaks; the actual film ran 104 minutes.)
With the Jets leading 32-29 with only 65 seconds left in the game, NBC executives attempted to reach their broadcast operations unit to extend coverage of the game but were unable to reach them in time to delay the cutover or reinstate coverage before the game ended. In the meantime, the Raiders came back and scored 14 points, winning 43-32. As a result, no fan following the game on TV was able to see Oakland's comeback live. The complaints to the network indicated a new height of popularity for the game in the United States."
And today, Heidi does Australia. To be sure, Cilic ran the table in the fifth set and beat Roddick. OK, fair enough and they won't have to eat any crow with their lamb. But wait, maybe they should?
Think about the effect of carrying afternoon matches, Channel 7. They may well run long, and you have an obligation to carry them to the finish, don't you?