It became a running joke among my friends for the rest of the day.
"Can you make sure we get the Michigan game?"
With about three and a half minutes remaining in the Kansas-Missouri game on Saturday, which was aired on KCTV5, the local CBS affiliate, the game was...gone. The feed switched to the Michigan State-Michigan game at 1:00 p.m. but there was still time left in the Missouri game.
(Ugh. Being forced to watch Big Ten basketball. Anything worse?)
I know my TV switched to the Michigan game causing us to miss the end of the Kansas-Missouri game. I missed Gus Johnson's "Got it!!" on Marcus Denmon's three with about a minute and a half to go and I missed the Tigers 11-0 run that was eventually stopped in KU's 70-66 victory.
According to the KC Star, Kansas City, Columbia and Springfield missed the rest of the game. St. Louis, Wichita and Topeka had a brief interruption and got the game back.
We didn't know what happened to the feed but shortly after the game -- during the Michigan game -- KCTV5 posted a statement crawling across the bottom of the screen indicating the decision to switch from the KU/MU game was a network decision. KCTV5 also apologized for CBS's decision to pull away. In short, KCTV5 wanted its local viewers to be crystal clear -- this was not KCTV5's fault.
Later, KCTV5's GM Bobby Totsch posted a statement on their website explaining the decision:
We want to make sure everyone is aware of what actually happened. Sun spots always create blackout issues on satellite feeds. The network and local stations both prepare for those and adjust accordingly. What happened today started as a sun spot blackout. CBS crossed up the signals and sent us a backup feed that was clearly not the correct feed --it was the alternate signal with another regional game. The network simply made a mistake. Over the next several minutes, many stations did get their feed back and showed the final minutes of the game. Unfortunately, KCTV5 got the wrong backup feed from CBS. We tried to compensate, but were unable to get the correct feed back in time for the end of the game.
OK, a few thoughts on this:
1. Everyone knows this is an awful mistake. This is the one game a year that affects this many people in Kansas City and you simply can not mess it up. No matter the reason, this makes you look bad.
2. Shortly after the game ended, we had a statement crawling across the screen apologizing for the decision. Considering the situation, that's the most we could ask for. KCTV5 was quick to apologize. It didn't make me feel much better at the time but that's what they could control and they did a good job with it.
3. By that evening, I had seen an apology from KCTV5 crawling across the screen, a general apology posted on the home page of their website, and then a statement from the GM. They did a good job, I think, of admitting the screwup and trying to explain the situation.
4. I'm OK with KCTV5's response to what happened but what happened was really, really awful.
5. KCTV5 also replayed the second half of the game later that night but by then I had already pulled up a clip online and seen the rest of the game. Nice effort from them to try to make it up, though.