Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Networks Take Bold Steps to Offer All-Access Viewing

from Michael McCarthy at USA TODAY

Over the last two nights, we've seen Fox contributor Eric Byrnes and ESPN's Kenny Mayne paddle around McCovey Cove in kayaks in search of home run balls at Major League Baseball's Home Run Derby and 78th All-Star Game from San Francisco.

In the future, ESPN would like to have one of its reporters ride along during an actual NASCAR race. NBC wants to put a cameraman in skates on the ice during NHL shootouts. It also wants to add tracking devices to horses in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes so viewers can better gauge their speed and position in the race.

The suddenly gonzo correspondents of TV sports are showing up with their mics and cameras in unexpected places. It's a smart idea. In a world of 24/7 sports coverage, networks have to provide viewers with access to areas that used to be off-limits. Or get left behind.