Gremlins make PRIME's NFL cover a test for fans
By DONAL SCULLY
SOMETHING being better than nothing, the philosophy of the fatalist, is the best way to approach PRIME Sports' NFL coverage.
In the opening week of the season they had the chance to show the Oakland Raiders' first game back in that city after their move from LA. Instead, after hyping their NFL package to exhaustion in the preceding weeks, they elected to stay with an over-running US Open tennis match, only catching up with the Raiders at half-time. Two weeks ago they hid their light under a bushel, publicising Green Bay v Detroit as the main game, only to actually show the far more interesting Dallas v Atlanta game which marked Deion Sanders' first game as a Cowboy. Only fans blessed with serendipity or clairvoyance would have been able to see the game.
Then last week they encountered technical difficulties which meant we missed the first 15 minutes of the excellent pre-game show by Fox Sports. Luckily the game itself, in which Minnesota beat Green Bay with a last-second field goal, was thrilling and shown in its entirety. Obviously technical difficulties are acts of God and PRIME can't be held responsible, but it seemed to be becoming part of an unwelcome trend and was most unfortunate as the pre-game show is often better than the games that follow. On the other hand the games themselves can contain some eye-opening humour.
In last week's encounter Green Bay got through three quarterbacks. Starter Brett Favre was sacked four times before departing which led colour commentator Matt Millen to observe: 'Favre is getting the snot beat out of him today!' Now that's what I call colour commentary. THE 'something being better than nothing' attitude was severely put to the test last week with the seemingly gratuitous showing of the New Zealand v Papua New Guinea match from last month's Rugby League World Cup. That was the lone herald to a burst of games from that competition to be shown next week.
PRIME has established itself as the premier rugby channel in Hong Kong so it was more than a mite disappointing at the time when none of the World Cup games were shown live. The question is, will diehard fans see these belated screenings as better than nothing or as a kick in the teeth. Sticking to rugger, and on the brighter side of PRIME's obvious commitment to the game, they will be showing the much-anticipated union Test between England and South Africa from Twickenham on Saturday. Europe's best against the world champions.
And as an appetiser they will repeat the summer's World Cup final where the Springboks beat New Zealand (whoops gave away the ending) on Friday night. PRIME'S undoubted speciality is motorsport. With recent coverage of the Zhuhai International races and a season of highly successful Formula One, 500 cc and Superbike coverage under their belts, Jonathan Green, Matthew Marsh & Co take their infectious enthusiasm and outspoken opinions to the centre-piece of the local racing calendar - the Macau Grand Prix.
PRIME bring the major races live on Saturday and Sunday (ATV World chip in with live coverage on Sunday, too). A must for petrol heads.
LIVE HIGHLIGHTS THIS WEEKATV World Wednesday 15th, 8 pm: Racing Night Live. Sunday 19th, 1.30 pm: Motor racing - Macau Grand Prix. ESPN (Wharf) Monday 13th, 9 am: NFL - Denver Broncos v Philadelphia Eagles. Tuesday 14th, 10 am: NFL - Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers. Wednesday 15th, 9 am: NBA - Chicago Bulls v Orlando Magic Saturday 18th, 9 am: NBA - Utah Jazz v Detroit Pistons. Wharf Cable Sports Thursday 16th, 3.15 am: Soccer - European Championship qualifier, Holland v Norway.
PRIME (STAR) Monday 13th, 1 am: NFL - Green Bay packers v Chicago Bears. 5 am: NFL - San Francisco 49ers v Dallas Cowboys. Saturday 18th, 8.30 am: Motor racing - Macau Grand Prix. 10 pm: Rugby union - England v South Africa. Sunday 19th, 9.30 am: Motor racing - Macau Grand Prix. 6 pm: Soccer - Chinese National League, Shanghai v Tianjin. Monday 20th, 2 am: NFL - New York Giants v Philadelphia Eagles.