March Madness viewers in Ohio took to social media with their frustration after CBS affiliate 10TV cut to a black screen during the final seconds of the tied North Carolina-Kentucky game. The station was giving a weather update of a tornado warning issued in the area in a scrolling bar at the top of the screen. Angry viewers tweeted their frustrations dealing with the black screen, saying the station could have reported the tornado warning in the scroll bar without having cut out the game.
The station has responded to the viewer frustration with a very simple response.
Overall, I think 10TV did a good job by offering a solution to their viewers. If I led a crisis management team for 10TV, I would have first acknowledged and apologized for (or explained, if it wasn’t their fault) the blackout. While offering a solution to the problem is the key to stopping the frustration from continuing, just offering this solution still leaves a nasty taste in viewers mouths. I also would have offered to play the entire game again, not just the last two minutes. People DVR these games and would have been missing just that portion.
Clearly 10TV is not a major TV station (some of the viewer tweets got the same numbers in retweets and likes as the station’s twee), but as a CBS affiliate, they do have a reputation to uphold. March Madness, and similar sporting event package are also a big income for TV stations. Retaining that income means making fans happy. To that, I would also be making a recommendation to the station. I am not sure their current policy for reporting severe weather, but, in my experience, a good way to report severe weather while only mildly interrupting programs is to leave the visuals running but change the audio to a severe weather report. This report starts and ends with the same tone, so it is identifiable as a severe weather report, and is played over television and radio stations.