BBC vs. ESPN/ABC Wimbledon Coverage

I watched the Wimbledon final live via a feed provided by ESPN.com.  Oddly, this feed was not ESPN’s broadcast feed.  Instead ESPN’s website linked to a stream from the BBC broadcast.  Later in the day, ABC broadcast an edited match on free television in the USA.  Rebroadcasting the match in a format suited to time concerns made a lot of sense to me, but I would prefer that the Grand Slams be available on free television here in the US rather than going almost exclusively to cable broadcasts.

There were differences between the ESPN and BBC approach to the final match.  The BBC showed the match and talked about the match, but the BBC did no cutaways to other venues.  The ESPN broadcast would cut to Henman Hill, to Andy Murray’s hometown, and to various locations in London to show people reacting to various events during the match.  The cutaways did give a sense to the viewer that this was a momentous occasion or would be if Murray won (and he did).

My conclusion was that the US approach to broadcasting sports is to always frame the athletic event as part of a narrative.  Somehow and someway an athlete will be placed within the context of his or her life story and the story of his or her region in order to make the athletic achievement or near miss have greater emotional impact to the viewer.  The BBC seemed to say the sport is enough to sell itself.  I am a US citizen and did find the cutaways to be quite interesting from a sociological perspective.  Still, part of me was taken by the less is more approach of the BBC.

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