Recently, I found myself in a pub in Edinburgh, Scotland called Tron. It was here that I would actually experience media in the U.K. as my friends and I gathered in around a table to watch the Six Nations Rugby game between Scotland and Ireland.
Now, I should begin by saying that I don’t quite understand how rugby works. I barely understand how American football, soccer, basketball or nearly any other sport works for that matter, so watching them on television is normally not exciting for me. However, instead of spending my time trying to figure out the rules for rugby, I focused my efforts on watching how the BBC presented the sport in relation to how American networks present sports.
Close up shots of the players on the field, wide shots that followed the action and the graphics that explained scores were something that were common place and remarkably similar to those seen on any American sports coverage. The big difference that I found was actually the commercials, or lack thereof. With American coverage it seems that every five minutes networks are cutting to a commercial, but this was not the case at all with the game. During time outs instead of getting a commercial, you got a few shots of the crowd (which were actually much rarer than in American sports coverage) and then went back to the action. The only commercials that happened at all during the game were during half time and they were actually to promote the upcoming games.
The differences in coverage actually made me wonder and eventually conclude that the lack of commercials was most likely due to the game being broadcast on public television instead of a private network. There is no need for advertising when the public pays for the service and honestly I found that watching the game without the interruption of advertisements to be extremely enjoyable. Even though I wasn’t quite sure what was going on, my annoyance at being interrupted was nonexistent. I wonder if I would feel the same way without commercials with American sports?
(The photo is by jessica of Ottawa, Canada via Flickr, using a Creative Commons license.)