F1 Malaysia: TSN’s Coverage Improves…

… But that improvement didn’t come through anything that they did.  TSN lucked into the fact that yesterday’s Malaysian Grand Prix turned out as it did, otherwise it would have been as big a train wreck as last week’s.

TSN’s race coverage started at about 4:55 with the Formula One intro logo which is provided on the world broadcast video feed.  No TSN can’t be bothered to broadcast their own intro anymore or have one of their hosts give an introduction because when that ended, Johnathan Legard came on.  Fortunately his line of “It never rains, it pours in Malaysia” was the perfect way to introduce the race.  From there we had BBC commentary audio featuring Legard and Brundle until the eventual red flag.

I don’t want this to turn into a critique of the BBC crew because I was busy paying attention to the race but after two races I’m already comfortable with Legard.  He starts talking and I feel as though he belongs unlike James Allen who I never really considered a proper F1 voice (to use subjective announcer speak).  Legard is always with the action but never overshadows it.  He never makes anything sound any more important than it actually is.  He is almost perfect at his job and is already a joy to listen to.

Meanwhile, TSN introduced split-screen commercial breaks into their coverage.  I was wondering how long it would take them to do this because this is standard practise for soccer matches without commercial breaks so logic would have dictated that this was the next step.  Unfortunately, they managed to botch this royally.  First, they cut off the commentary and in the process managed to make the audio sound like it was skipping as they went into split-screen mode.  Second, the breaks seemed excessively long.  Fortunately they were few and far between so that might have been why this happened.  By my count, there were only two breaks during racing and another two during the red flag.  Next, they didn’t cut out of split-screen when anything important happened.  Because the BBC carried on doing their own thing, we had to wait for a bit to find out what the deal with the red flag was.  Mind you, the torrential downpour made the red flag self-explanatory.  We did miss cars spinning off all over the track because of the split-screen as well as some pit stops in the dry.  And the TSN racing graphic kept flickering in the background every now and then which was annoying but not broadcast ruining.

I did say off the top that I thought TSN did better this week but through nothing they did.  Last time, they were made to look stupid when the BBC did their own thing while the podium drivers press conference being shown on TSN.  My recording cut off after Button’s champagne bottle hit the ground so I don’t know if TSN screwed that up again.  However, the world feed visual combined with the BBC audio worked out perfectly this week (with the noted exception).  The BBC commentary team, pit lane reporters and analyst crew gelled together with the world feed so it all looked and sounded like it was going according to plan.  I’m sure that TSN was quite glad that things worked out this way because if the race was declared over sooner, it would have gotten ugly for Canada’s sports leader.  They got lucky this week.  The next time a race doesn’t push up to the time limit, TSN will once again be exposed as not caring about racing fans.  So a final plea to TSN’s executives: Don’t make the cable companies black-out Speed Channel so we can watch proper F1 coverage by people who are fans of F1 and not those that see it as a loss leader.

UPDATE: The F1 season rolls on so I look again at F1 on TSN.

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