Sunday, May 20, 2012


After a rather 'heavy' day yesterday, I was gratified to learn that StarSports Asia was to be screening a full 'as live' re-run of yesterday's Champions League Final between Chelsea and Bayern Munich at 9am the next day. This was a far more practical option than trying to stay up all night or trying to grab a few hours' sleep while hoping the alarm clock would go off properly at 2am.

Of course, I had to avoid checking my phone for messages which might give away the result or the major incidents of the match. And refrain from going online. And tiptoe my way through the minefield of Chinese news and sports channels while locating StarSports on my TV (Chinese coverage fairly regularly displays the final score continuously during highlights!).

But I made it. I was out of bed and feeling nicely refreshed an hour before "kick-off", all set for the game.

And the bastards started EARLY. 

In fact, I initially ignored the coverage. I'd begun trying to locate the station just after 8.30pm (I have about 90 channels on my TV, in no kind of logical order, and with no 'quick jump' facility), but when I found the game already being shown, I assumed that this was just a news roundup, and hastily looked away, changed channels again. Giving away the result of a major event immediately prior to showing it in full I had thought to be a uniquely Chinese piece of TV stupidity, but perhaps this vice is more widely prevalent in Asia.

Daft scheduling I had thought to be a uniquely Chinese piece of TV stupidity, but perhaps this vice too is more widely prevalent in Asia - although I had hoped for better from Mr Murdoch's Star empire.

You have to be aware that a major sporting event can overrun, and make allowance for that by having easily cancellable items in the schedule immediately following. It's not just football. You can never tell if the Men's Final at Wimbledon is going to last 2 hours or 4. You don't know if the US Masters at Augusta is going to go to a sudden-death playoff. (I've seen China's execrable CCTV5 sports channel cut off matches half-way through, to honour the scheduling of some routine magazine programme.) Allowing for overrun shouldn't have been too challenging for StarSports Asia, since their schedule is woefully thin (ESPN has all the good stuff; StarSports just a little of their overspill); this was about the only major sporting event they have on all week.

You should also keep in mind that - for such a big event - the start time is pretty f***ing important. Particularly for the first re-run, only hours after the event, at a time when most viewers in your region are likely to be hoping to enjoy the game 'as live'.

Changing to an earlier start time not only guarantees that fans are going to miss the first twenty or thirty minutes, it also signals pretty clearly that the game must have gone to extra time and penalties.

Congratulations, StarSports! Way to ruin the experience for everyone!

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