Monday, December 22, 2008

The stadium audience

Ever been in the audience for a TV show? Maybe Letterman or Conan or Regis and Kelly?

What was the price of admission? You know the answer to that: Tickets for TV shows are free. The producers want you there. Your laughter and applause are part of the fabric of the program. Without the studio audience buzz, a show could fall flat.

Which is why I propose the following:

Whenever a TV network decides to move a previously scheduled afternoon sporting event (football and baseball are the prime targets), all those who paid for tickets should get their money back. Open the gates and invite people to be in the "stadium audience," free.

After all, the shift to prime time for games like last night's Giants vs. Panthers is all about TV and ratings. They don't care about the ticket-buyers. There are only about 80,000 of you. They want the home viewers.

Of course, the networks and the leagues know people will attend, even pay their way into a game on a frigid Sunday night in December on the East Coast. So they have no reason not to inconvenience you by changing the schedule.

It's not just the weather, either. Take your summertime scheduling shifts in baseball.

Suppose you buy tickets for you and your family to see a Yankees game on a Sunday afternoon in August. Maybe it's your child's birthday. You have a big day planned, perhaps including dinner after the game. But then TV moves your afternoon game to 8 o'clock (or later) at night. Weather may not be a problem, but this isn't what you had in mind. You wanted a summer's day at the ballpark, not a late night game that may not conclude until around midnight, following by the ride home. Heck, it may be 2 a.m. before you're in bed. And you have to be up at 6 the next morning to go to work. (If the game time is changed in June or September, the kids have school the next day.) That's not what you expected when you shelled out a lot of money for your tickets.

The least you should get for your trouble of being in the "stadium audience" is your money back.

I know: Keep dreaming, you say. Of course it will never happen ... unless, particularly in this bad economy, enough fans stand up like Howard Beale in "Network" and declare, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!"
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