Remote broadcasting has been a thing for awhile, but truly became prevalent with the onset of the pandemic in 2020. At first, it was a safety issue for networks and broadcasters. Now, nearly three years after the sports world shut down in March of 2020, some announcers are still calling games remotely, but it’s less about safety these days and more about cost savings.
On Thursday, FS1 aired a highly anticipated basketball game between UCLA and Arizona State. But game broadcasters Aaron Goldsmith and Casey Jacobsen weren’t at the game in person – they were calling it remotely. And the Pac-12 isn’t thrilled with that decision, per John Canzano.
The Pac-12 isn’t happy that FOX’s broadcast team wasn’t on site Thursday night to see the No. 5 Bruins face second-place Arizona State. A source said the Pac-12 was “disappointed” and the conference let FOX know this at the highest levels.
Observers noted during the broadcast that Goldsmith and Jacobsen made comments on-air such as “from where we’re at” and talked about the “energy in the building.” Muscle memory is hard to overcome, I suppose. But the broadcasters were nowhere near the ASU-UCLA game on Thursday night.
Arizona State senior associate athletic director Doug Tammaro said he was “bummed out” by Fox’s decision, adding that remote broadcasters can’t accurately reflect the environment inside the building during a big game.
“When I saw they weren’t coming on an email, I was bummed,” said Doug Tammaro, ASU’s senior associate athletic director. “You’re just bummed out.”
“We all understood the need to be remote during Covid,” Tammaro said. “I’ll be honest, we all got it. But I don’t see how that energy, that environment could be captured by someone in a studio far away.
“Human beings needed to be in the building.”
Tammaro also noted that despite the broadcasters calling the game remotely, FS1 still needed 18 credentials for other on-site personnel.
Tammaro, ASU’s associate AD, told me that FS1 requested 18 media credentials for Thursday’s event. He lamented that the network still had to hire staff to lay wire, operate cameras, and produce the event.
Why not send the broadcasters, too?
“I don’t know how much money they save,” Tammaro said. “But I think we’re getting too comfortable with it. We’re losing something when they’re not in the house, especially for a game like that.”
This isn’t the first time that remote broadcasts have caused an issue between the Pac-12 and Fox. In the fall, FS1’s broadcast crew was remote during a Utah-Washington State game, and when Utah quarterback Cam Rising didn’t play (as he was expected to), Fox had egg on their face after heavily promoting Rising in the game’s introduction. Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham specifically cited the remote broadcast as a reason for Fox not being informed about Rising not playing.
Remote broadcasts aren’t going anywhere. Networks are saving too much money to completely end them. But in future rights deals, I wouldn’t be surprised if leagues and college conferences requested caps for the amount of remote broadcasts, especially when it comes to college football and basketball conference games. With the Pac-12’s media rights now on the open market, I’d assume that would be a significant part of their next contract, given the public issues the conference has had with remote broadcasts since the fall.