Video above is from the FSN Kings-Blues “Rinkside” telecast from last Saturday at Staples Center
They call it “Rinkside View.” You’ve called it “Stinkside View.” That’s when you’re being nice.
The Fox Sports Net’s L.A. offices have heard your
constructive criticism astute suggestions, and in Friday’s media column, they’ll explain some changes to their approach, starting with Sunday’s Kings-Ducks telecast on FSN Prime.
Then they expect to hear more feedback as to how it can work spinning forward.
We’d assumed that “Rinkside” this season would be done in the way it has been in the past — as an alternative feed to the “traditional” NHL telecast. For next Tuesday’s Lakers-Chicago Bulls telecast, for example, FSN West will carry the tradition telecast with Joel Meyers and Stu Lantz, while FSN Prime will do the “Courtside View” coverage — low camera angles, boom mikes in crazy places, no broadcasters, and Bill Macdonald running all over the place behind the scenes.
That’s a nice compromise. But it’s not practical, especially financially, on the hockey side of the ledger.
Southern California hockey fans who’ve already seen this “Rinkside View” hybrid version for the last month complain most about how it makes them dizzy, restricts seeing plays develop and, some aren’t willing to watch — even boycott. A few have resorted to calling Fox Sports chief David Hill to lodge protests.
Oh, and they’ve filled our comments slots on the Kings blog in remarkable numbers. The passion is evident. A few even more off the deep end after FSN executive producer Tom Feuer offered his “let them eat cake” edict in the OC Register this week. Have to say, that didn’t go over too well. (see link here). Even if this seems to be the future of NHL telecasts.
We caught up this morning at the morning skate in Dallas by phone with Kings broadcasters Bob Miller and Jim Fox for their take so far on “Rinkside View,” which they will be part of again when the Kings host the Washington Caps next week.
“When I’m doing the broadcast, I don’t watch the monitor because it’s too restrictive of a view, whether it’s ‘Rinkside’ or not. But I did record a few ‘Rinkside’ games and watched them. I’m aware of the negative reaction from fans, and I’ve heard a lot of it, too. There are certain things I do like about it, but my feeling was that the low shots from next to the glass weren’t bad when a team comes out of a defensive zone to center ice. But once they’re across the blue line to the center zone, you need a higher view. It’s almost like watching a football game from the sidelines, and the players all start to run to the other side of the field and you can’t see the play develop.
“I really liked the robotic cameras above the goal, especially to see plays in the corner. You can see the players’ faces really well. But other times, you need a higher view in that offensive zone as well.
“My other opinion about those high camera angles that I see is that sometimes they’re actually too wide and too far and you don’t get close enough.
“I can see how some sports may lend itself to better viewing on a ‘Rinkside’ approach. In basketball, where the ball is bigger, there are fewer people on the court and it’s a smaller space, not as spread out and now always fast, there’s a chance it works better. You can also watch some sports without announcers for a time, like baseball and football, if there are graphics. But hockey isn’t so easy without broadcasters — and maybe I’m partial — or with tigher shots.
“Overall, there are parts I don’t mind and others I see needing some change. There’s no problem with trying something to see if it works. But you’ve got to listen to the fans’ reaction and maybe change things. We can’t alienate the fans. For that matter, I’d also like to see every game in high definition as well — hockey is the best sport to watch on high def, if only to see the puck better.”
“I’ve honestly not seen (a ‘Rinkside’) full telecast since I’m busy doing it and only watch the monitor for replays. I understand there’s an issue with it, the ability to follow the puck and the way things flow. It’s a difficult game to cut.
“The only changes I have to make when we do ‘Rinkside’ versus a ‘normal’ game is the perspective. Instead of concentration on formations, it’s more the hand-to-hand battles.
“We’ve heard hockey is the most difficult sprot to televise so why do it the same way every year? An important part it listening to the viewers and getting feedback and getting adjustments. If the people are saying it’s tough to watch, then we should be looking for new ways. I applaud people for looking for new ways to televise the game. Then if it works, great. I remember when the Fox Box first came into the NFL. And people reacted to it. Now, if it’s not on the TV for a few minutes, you’re yelling: What’s the score? What’s the time. You get used to it.
“I can see certain elements being part of the regular telecast. And that’s only trying to make the TV product better. From a replay standpoint, I think you hit the home run with ‘Rinkside.’ It can produce the perfect replay. But again, that’s just a replay, not a live shot. I go back to the first ‘Rinkside’ game against Anaheim, when Dustin Brown laid out Sammy Pahlsson. That was the best replay I’d ever seen. It was spectacular. You got right down there inside Brown’s shoulder pads. And the only way we got that was because of the ‘Rinkside’ setup. In a ‘normal’ game, maybe you get that if you isolate Brown for a shift. Here we had a 100 percent tight view. So you gotta pick and choose.
“When you have to make live cuts (during ‘Rinkside’) that’s very difficult. If you could do it like a movie, where you take all the footage and edit it and discuss it and then put it together, then you’d have a perfect hockey game coverage. But that’s not practical.”