This is going to be something of a long-winded post, which serves no real purpose. Other than me getting some thoughts down. The reason this post is a bit pointless will become apparent.
I have now booked the UK Championship off work, I was in two minds about this. I haven't booked the televised portion off since 2017. Partly because I don't feel it's as good a televised spectacle as The Masters and The World Championship. And this has nothing to do with the length of the matches.
Here's some of the problems for me.
1. Not all matches get televised.
Now, this has been the case for most of the time the UK Championship has existed. There was a short period where the BBC televised every match of the rounds they televised. (If that makes sense.) There were still pre-televised matches, but once the TV stages kicked in you didn't miss match.
I always think it is a shame that most matches aren't televised, because in the last 64 you've got six matches per session which you have no way of watching. In the last 32, they only televise 2 of every 4 matches.
Now I know the BBC aren't going to change this. They want nine days of coverage, so nine days is what you're going to get. A lot of the other tournaments don't televise every match either. So why the big deal? Well the BBC, one of the main channels in the UK, continually describe this tournament as 'a major'. But there's loads of matches that aren't even being filmed. That doesn't feel very major. The Home Nations are like this as well, but they aren't being put above other tournaments by the channel that shows them.
2. The BBC's insistence on fitting the last-64 matches through to the final into 9 days of TV coverage.
(Sub-problem; Their insistence on putting higher ranked players/more popular players on over what could be better matches.)
In the old days, TV coverage kicked in at the last 32. Now it's the last 64. That's not a problem per se. As "a major", it should have as many of the matches on TV as possible. But the BBC have a terrible track record for picking the wrong matches. They basically chose the two higher ranked player's matches, unless Ronnie is playing and they automatically pick him. I get that they have to think about their viewers, and I understand Ronnie is by far the most popular player among those who pay their license fee. So I'm not saying don't show Ronnie. What I am saying though is, in the last 64, the higher ranked players are often playing people comparatively lower in the rankings. So you're still getting a fair amount of one-sided matches. Especially if you're picking the top guys all the time. There are some years where it feels like Tuesday or Wednesday before you're seeing decent matches on TV.
I mentioned 2017, which I was off work for. (Though busy for the opening weekend.) I remember Ronnie and Murphy were in the final, and it seemed to be they got on TV almost every day. That's probably an exaggeration, but I remember seeing a lot of them. Now, I probably have myself to blame a bit for being away for the opening weekend. And of course, the further a player gets in a tournament, the more of them you'll see play. Somehow though, I did feel like I was seeing the same players over and over again. Very little variety there.
Was is better when televised coverage kicked in for the last 32? At least the qualifiers then had already won two games, so we were watching a point where the lower names were more likely to make a match of it against the big boys. Would it be better if they kept it as it is now, but allowed you to watch a higher selection of matches? That way if there were players that the BBC weren't as bothered showing, but might be in a good match, you could at least watch it on the I-Player or something.
To slightly answer my own question, the BBC is never going to open it up to show more matches, or add extra days to the tournament length. That'd cost more money. And Hearn is never going to change the format. So this thread is next to pointless. But am I alone in thinking that if this is a major, like the BBC claim it is, their coverage doesn't reflect that?
The Masters and The Crucible there is television coverage for every second of every match, or I-Player coverage at least. That makes every match feel like it's important. And if a qualifier goes on a run in The Crucible, it promotes them a bit because we know they're doing something meaningful. Sometimes at the UK, a player can be in the quarter or semi before they're on TV.
Like I say, it's nothing that'll change. But somehow the TV Coverage doesn't fit with it's description as a major somehow. Though I have booked it off now, so it can't be that bad.
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