Super Sunday provided a hell of a spectacle for the 200,000 spectators and hundreds of boats as San Francisco bid farewell to the America’s Cup World Series. By all accounts it was a great day to watch sailboat racing, with plenty of breeze and almost constant lead changes giving everyone something to cheer for, including ‘homers’ Oracle Team USA pulling the come-from-behind victory over a much more consistently fast (over the full week) Ben Ainslie. While the in-person action was awesome by all accounts, the broadcast was far less so.
Thankfully, those watching on coast-to-coast live network TV weren’t subjected to a snoozer of a match race Final, with Spithill buying, owning, and selling Dean Barker’s ass on the start line and then racing away to an uncontested win. The final fleet race was far better, and some of the best camera shots yet combined with the great action and good conditions should have made it a home run for the home audience. And maybe in other countries running the feed on TV it was – but here in the US and worldwide via Youtube, we were subjected to by far the worst commentary team we’ve yet seen, and it sucked the life right out of the broadcast.
We’ve spent plenty of time explaining just why Gary Jobson, an icon from another era, is completely out of his comfort zone in today’s America’s Cup, and with all of you calling for his head, we don’t need to dig too deep into it here; suffice to say that he simply has no idea what he is talking about, and he clearly is unable or unwilling to do the kind of reboot necessary to bring his game up to a remotely acceptable level. To make matters far worse, ACTV replaced the excitable and compelling John Rawling and the knowledgable and accurate Mitch Booth with IndyCar and Extreme Games announcer Todd Harris, ensuring that current and potential fans heard not only lousy expert commentary from Jobson, but completely clueless rap from Harris. He seemed to think he could make up with clichés and misplaced enthusiasm what he lacked in knowledge, and it was embarrassing, even to those with little previous knowledge of ACWS racing. You’d think he would pick up a few books or spend a few days trying to learn the ropes before picking up the microphone; then again, in more than a year of tryouts and trials and hirings and firings, ACTV still can’t get this incredibly important formula right so we aren’t too surprised. Remember a few weeks ago when ‘independent’ AC CEO Stephen Barclay told us that Gary and Todd’s “voices, as well as the live onboard audio from the sailors, will immerse our viewers in the Cup experience as the teams compete on the challenging San Francisco Bay race course”? We are still waiting for the punchline.
While the Nielsen numbers aren’t in yet for TV, the Youtube numbers are pretty ugly, and we simply don’t see how the fan base can grow when such a big part of the package is of such an impossibly low standard. What we really don’t understand is how in the hell Ellison/Coutts/Ehman don’t see something that is so frightfully obvious to the rest of us.
You can watch the entire final race below to see if you agree, and check in on the Jobson thread here to add your opinion; note that we’ve set the starting point to after the match race; we don’t recommend clicking anything before that point unless you are looking to cure your insomnia. We’re still waiting for a single opinion (outside ACEA) that Jobson/Harris would be better on the mike than a pair of Optimist sailors. Oh, and if you haven’t seen the best clip from the entire month in Frisco, click here.