Sunday, July 22, 2018

Shot chart from NBC Sunday Open Championship telecast - 2018

I monitored the strokes televised by NBC during the final round of the Open Championship. I started tracking at 9am ET to provide a comparable time period to the other majors I have tracked. NBC televised 383 strokes during the tracking period. This total includes 30 shots that NBC aired as part of its Playing Through feature during 10 of the commercial breaks. With the final putt dropping at 1:57pm, the rate worked out to 1.29 strokes per minute.

NBC showed strokes from 21 different players during the tracking period with seven golfers being covered for at least 22 strokes. Those seven accounted for 84% of the televised shots. NBC televised 45 strokes from winner Francesco Molinari which was only the fourth highest total. NBC devoted air time to 65 strokes from Tiger Woods and spotlighted the final pairing of Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele for 58 and 55 shots respectively. The highest finishers not shown during this period were three of the players who were part of a tie for 12th.

I also recorded the number of televised strokes by hole during the tracking period. The 18th was featured most frequently (39 strokes) followed by hole #1 (35 shots). On the other extreme, the 9th hole received only nine televised shots.

This is the fifth year that I have compiled these televised shot charts. For comparison to prior majors, see this summary table which contains links to all such shot charts since 2014.

Here is the complete shot chart (including the highest finishers not shown during the tracking period) followed by the hole-by-hole breakdown:

PlayerShots shownFinishPairing
Tiger Woods65 (of 71)T63
Jordan Spieth58T91
Xander Schauffele55T21
Francesco Molinari4513
Kevin Kisner40T22
Rory McIlroy35T25
Kevin Chappell22T62
Tommy Fleetwood10T126
Justin Rose9T27
Matt Kuchar7T95
Phil Mickelson7T2419
Eddie Pepperell5T619
Tony Finau4T99
Webb Simpson4T124
Alex Noren4T174
Zach Johnson4T176
Erik Van Rooyen4T1710
Jason Day2T1727
Bernhard Langer1T2418
Julian Suri1T2823
Sean Crocker1T4715

Note: The Pairing column reflects the tee time groupings in reverse order, so 1 = final pairing, 2 = next-to-last, etc.

Hole numberTelevised shots

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Shot chart from Fox Sunday US Open telecast - 2018

I tracked the shots televised by Fox during the Sunday round of the US Open. The final pairing teed off at 2:24pm ET, so I started the tracking at 2:00 to provide a fair comparison to the other majors I have monitored.

Fox showed 345 shots during the tracking period. Play concluded at 6:39 which worked out to a rate of 1.24 strokes per minute. This was down from the 1.30 shown by Fox during the 2017 US Open.

Fox showed 65 strokes from Dustin Johnson and 64 by winner Brooks Koepka. Patrick Reed was featured for 58 strokes. The final pairing of Tony Finau and Daniel Berger checked in at 44 and 29 respectively. Runner-up Tommy Fleetwood (who was already on the 10th hole when the tracking period started) was covered for 25. Fox showed only 18 golfers playing strokes during this period with eight players getting coverage for at least 12 shots. The highest finisher not shown during the period was Zach Johnson who tied for 12th.

A few notes on the TV coverage:

  • Fox went commercial-free for the final 52 minutes of play.
  • I noticed two different occasions when the Fox on-screen scoreboard gave away a result of a shot that Fox was about to show. With D Johnson facing a rather short par putt on 7, Fox cut to show Fleetwood at 18. While there, the on-screen leaderboard updated to show Johnson dropping a shot on 7 and sliding down the board. Then Fox cut back to 7 and aired Johnson missing the putt. Similarly, Fox showed Fitzpatrick's approach to 18, but before it went back there to televise his birdie putt, the on-screen scroll showed Fitzpatrick's final score, again giving away the result.
  • When D Johnson was hitting a layup shot on 16, Fox was showing Koepka standing in the fairway. You could hear the club strike the ball and then a camera picked up the ball and showed it land. I chose to count this as a televised stroke.

I also tracked the number of televised strokes by hole during the tracking period. The 18th was featured the most (39 strokes) by a wide margin. Hole 7 received the fewest televised shots (12).

This is the fifth year that I have compiled these televised shot charts. For comparison to prior majors, see this summary table which contains links to all shot charts since 2014.

Here is the complete shot chart (including the highest finisher not shown during the tracking period) followed by the hole-by-hole breakdown:

PlayerShots shownFinishPairing
Dustin Johnson65 (of 70)32
Brooks Koepka64 (of 68)12
Patrick Reed5844
Tony Finau4451
Daniel Berger29T61
Tommy Fleetwood25214
Justin Rose20T103
Henrik Stenson12T63
Matthew Fitzpatrick9T1211
Webb Simpson6T109
Kiradech Aphinbarnrat3154
Xander Schauffele3T610
Matt Parziale2T4818
Tyrell Hatton1T66
Russell Knox1T1213
Brian Gay1T205
Ian Poulter1T257
Luis Gagne1T4823
Zach Johnson0T129

Note: The Pairing column reflects the tee time groupings in reverse order, so 1 =  final pairing, 2 = next-to-last, etc.

Hole numberTelevised shots

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Shot chart from CBS Sunday Masters telecast - 2018

I tracked the number of strokes that CBS aired per player during the Sunday round of the Masters. The telecast began at 2pm ET and I counted a total of 387 televised strokes. The final putt dropped at 6:38 which worked out to an average of 1.39 strokes per minute, a slight decrease over the rate from the 2017 Masters, but still the second highest of all major tournaments I have tracked since 2014.

CBS covered all 71 strokes from winner Patrick Reed. Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy were spotlighted for 58 shots each. Runner-up Rickie Fowler and third place finisher Jordan Spieth also received significant coverage. Overall those five players accounted for over 74% of the televised shots. Early in the telecast, CBS went overboard on the well out-of-contention Tiger Woods who was shown for 18 strokes (two of which were taped highlights from prior to airtime) which wound up being the sixth most of any player. CBS also included a 3-stroke highlight package of Phil Mickelson who had already completed his round.

The highest finisher not shown by CBS was Marc Leishman who wound up 9th (after being featured prominently on Saturday). CBS televised strokes from just 22 players during the Sunday round.

I also tracked the number of televised strokes by hole. The 18th was featured the most (36 strokes). I was a bit surprised at a few other results from this tracking. Hole #1 was seen second most often (29 strokes). And the iconic par-3 12th received the fewest televised stokes as CBS only showed 10 shots from that hole.

This is the fifth year that I have compiled these televised shot charts. For comparison to prior majors, see this summary table which contains links to all shot charts since 2014.

Here is the complete shot chart (including the highest finisher not shown on the telecast) followed by the hole-by-hole breakdown:

PlayerShots shownFinishPairing
Patrick Reed71 (of 71)11
Jon Rahm5842
Rory McIlroy58T51
Rickie Fowler5422
Jordan Spieth4835
Tiger Woods18T3220
Henrik Stenson17T53
Paul Casey17T1515
Justin Thomas11T175
Bubba Watson8T54
Webb Simpson5T2018
Cameron Smith4T56
Dustin Johnson4T106
Tony Finau3T1010
Phil Mickelson3T3625
Fred Couples2T3819
Justin Rose1T127
Charley Hoffman1T1210
Jimmy Walker 1T209
Jason Day1T208
Branden Grace1T2421
Doug Ghim1T5024
Marc Leishman094

Note: The Pairing column reflects the tee time groupings in reverse order, so 1 =  final pairing, 2 = next-to-last, etc.

Hole numberTelevised shots

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Howard Cosell - Black Hat in the Booth

If you are searching for a villain in the world of sports TV broadcasting, one figure jumps quickly to mind. That would be the man who wrote the following in his 1973 self-titled autobiography:
Arrogant, pompous, obnoxious, vain, cruel, verbose, a show-off. I have been called all of these. Of course, I am.
The writer was none other than Howard Cosell.

When ABC launched the Monday Night Football package in 1970, executive producer Roone Arledge unveiled a unique three-man booth. Arledge inserted Cosell into the mix to supplement the traditional roles of a play-by-announcer (Keith Jackson) and analyst (Don Meredith). And the pivotal member of that commentary team was clearly Cosell.

Meredith, who was new to broadcasting, was so apprehensive as the season opener approached that he considered backing out of his contract to call the games. Cosell told Meredith: You'll wear the white hat, I'll wear the black hat. By casting himself in such a role and exhibiting all of the characteristics he outlined in the above book quote, Cosell turned Meredith into a hero to viewers who loved the way that Dandy Don would needle Humble Howard. Ratings surged as fans were drawn to the weekly banter between Meredith and Cosell. Meredith even earned an Emmy Award from that first season.

After the first game, Cosell became a villain in the minds of advertisers, most notably Henry Ford II of the Ford Motor Company who felt that Cosell detracted from his enjoyment of the telecast. He threatened to withdraw the Ford sponsorship of the prime time series unless ABC removed Cosell from the booth. After early season ratings proved stronger than expected, Ford backed off from the threat and Cosell remained a prominent member of the ABC NFL package for its first 14 years.

A key feature of this prime-time series was the halftime highlights segment which was narrated by Cosell. ABC would show select plays from subset of the Sunday games using NFL Films footage. Here, Cosell became the villain to many fans who would blame him if their favorite team wasn't shown on the highlight package. A bar in Denver actually conducted a weekly drawing with the winner getting to throw a brick at an old black & white TV when Cosell appeared on the screen.

Cosell always seemed to relish his role as the announcer that viewers loved to hate. He took the same approach in the way he portrayed himself in movies and guest appearances on sitcoms such as The Odd Couple.

In 1978, TV Guide conducted a survey to determine which TV sports announcers were the most liked and least liked by viewers. Cosell famously finished first in both categories! Of course, in the polling for least liked, the margin was overwhelming.

Cosell surfaced as a prominent villain in other sports as well. ABC acquired Major League Baseball rights in 1976, but suffered disappointing ratings for its first season of Monday Night Baseball and received poor reviews for its initial lead announcer team. As the postseason approached, the network performed a major overhaul of its broadcasters and unveiled plans to install Cosell for the ALCS. MLB commissioner Bowie Kuhn strongly objected because of comments by Cosell in recent years about how dull baseball had become. But Arledge held the trump card as the contract he had signed with MLB gave ABC the final say over announcers. So Cosell worked the playoffs and became a regular member of Monday Night Baseball the next season.

When ABC first bid for the TV rights to the 1976 Summer Olympics, the Montreal Olympic Committee tried to make the bid conditional on ABC not using Cosell on the telecasts. Again, Arledge won out as ABC got the rights and Cosell was ringside at the boxing venue.

Cosell called most of the key boxing matches on ABC during the 1970s. In 1982, he was at the mic for the Larry Holmes title fight against Randall "Tex" Cobb. The bout was extremely one-sided and Cosell, via his on-air commentary, implored the referee to stop the fight and expressed disgust that the match was allowed to go the distance.

Soon afterwards, Cosell declared that he was done with professional boxing and called for its abolition. Of course, he was lambasted by many in the press who viewed his stance as hypocritical since boxing was the sport where he first rose to prominence in the 1960s. He never worked another pro fight (although he did call amateur bouts during the 1984 Olympics).

Being a villain to the print media was nothing new for Cosell. He had a longstanding feud with sportswriter Dick Young of the New York Daily News who frequently attacked Cosell in his columns. He was also harshly criticized by Sports Illustrated for an interview he conducted with USA track coach Stan Wright during the 1972 Munich Olympics after a time schedule foulup caused two top USA sprinters to be disqualified.

In 1983, Cosell became a villain to the press once again when he used the phrase "little monkey" while praising Redskins wide receiver Alvin Garrett during a MNF telecast - which some perceived as racist. Later in that game, Cosell made the situation worse by issuing an on-air denial that he had used such a term. Despite the fact that Cosell had been a longtime supporter of civil rights, he was the subject of countless negative newspaper headlines over this incident.

Cosell was notorious for consuming alcohol before and during his telecasts. He famously left a Monday Night Football  telecast mid-game in Philadephia in 1970 after being drunk on the air and vomiting on Meredith's boots. His heavy drinking during the 1984 baseball playoffs also caused a major rift with Al Michaels.

Cosell became the villain yet again, this time to his entire industry, with the publication of I Never Played The Game in 1985. In the book, he blasted several of his former TV colleagues including Frank Gifford, OJ Simpson, and Meredith. Less than two weeks before the start of the 1985 World Series, ABC removed Cosell from its planned Fall Classic telecast team.

Also, in that book, Cosell wrote that in 1984, he received a call from Vince McMahon, chairman of the World Wrestling Federation. It turned out that McMahon wanted to hire Cosell to be the primary announcer for WWF wrestling telecasts. Cosell turned him down, but I find it intriguing to envision Cosell (the ultimate villain announcer) calling staged matches for McMahon's company at a time when professional wrestling was about to boom in popularity. McMahon went on to successfully feature many villain announcers of his own such as Bobby "The Brain" Heenan and Jesse "The Body" Ventura.

Howard Cosell was an absolute giant in the sportscasting industry. He dominated virtually any telecast in which he appeared and had the ability to elevate the perceived importance of each event. But, throughout his career, Cosell was seen as a villain by numerous entities - viewers, advertisers, league commissioners, sportswriters, and broadcasting colleagues - a true black hat in the booth.

This post is part of a Classic TV Villain Blogathon hosted by Classic Film and TV Cafe. Please check out the complete schedule of blog posts for this event.