Seen & Heard – Friday, March 1, 2013

by Rob G

I was going to title this “From my parent’s basement”, in honour of one of Bob McCown’s favourite sayings, but thought that some might not get the joke. So, we’ll keep it as Seen and Heard, and today, I’m concentrating on the presentation of TSN Drive, as I have some thoughts a few weeks into the show’s incarnation.

First, I think it’s a great alternative to Prime Time Sports. As it stands, there’s a clear choice between the tried and true McCown vehicle and the new show on the block. Dave Naylor is an excellent host from a journalistic credibility perspective in comparison to Cybulski & Co., and it will be interesting to see how the show grows organically. In its current state, TSN Drive is a show one can lean on to deliver a no-nonsense approach to the stories of the day.

Of course there is a “but”. Nothing huge, but a few things to call out. First, a few of the camera angles on television are not good. Particularly atrocious is the main front shot of the host and co-host. There are two heads mostly peering above the microphones, with no less than 5 TV screens behind them, and for lack of a better expression, 2 rectangular TSN signs in front of the laptops on the desk. This has to change.

Sportsnet does a better job of presenting the radio show on television, and while I get that TSN might not want to mimic Sportsnet, the desk in their studio has far too much in camera view. You’ll note on Sportsnet that McCown and the co-host have very little on the desk. The computer screen and keyboard are recessed underneath a glass top that is tinted dark. Not wanting to copy the competition is one thing, however, the current look of the main desk on TSN Drive is too busy, let along the multiple screens behind the host and co-hosts heads. Another thing that Sportsnet does a good job of – the camera angle is shot from slightly above as opposed to straight on. As a result, the microphones on Sportsnet are not in front of the host(s) faces. That, coupled with the cleaner look of the desk, makes a much better presentation. TSN, with multiple screens behind the host(s) heads, and the desk full of what we’ll call paraphernalia (a call out to the legendary Montreal Canadien play by play voice Danny Gallivan), needs to clean it up.

Not all is bad at TSN’s presentation of TSN Drive. They do a good job of shifting through their different camera angles to keep the presentation alive. I’m sure part of that is driven by the lousy main front angle, but I digress. TSN also does an excellent job of integrating various information on screen to the side that is related to the subject of the interview being conducted. They also show more video during an interview than Sportsnet does. Finally, they do a good job of calling out what is on schedule during the evening on their station(s) while the show is on.

Prime Time Sports has had much more time to hone its presentation on television. What PTS does have that all shows whould aspire to is a rhythm. The show, driven partially by the radio’s 20/20 updates, has a cadence that experienced viewers/listeners can depend on. There’s much to be said for that. TSN Drive has had a good start, and it is a work in progress. If I was going to suggest anything, it would be to work on developing a pace and rhythm that is as dependable as what Prime Time Sports delivers.

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