Congrats to pinball in general for making it to a televised broadcast, and Zach for all the work he must have put in. Any details on how it will play out? Are the games already picked? Is anything being done to make it more viewer friendly for casual fans or people just flipping through channels?

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It’s only scheduled for a half hour segment so it’ll be heavily edited.

I’m looking forward to what they put out, I know it’ll be decent and hope it’ll be spectacular.

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The way I read it I think it will just be a 30 minute feature/highlight reel from the Stern Pro Circuit final.

As most sports programs are… and rightfully so.

I was shocked more people weren’t talking about this here. This is huge… and finally we get to see what pinball really looks like in a highly produced tv format. Really looking forward to the outcome and excited to hear what josh and Zach have pulled together to make this happen.

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Let me fix that for you :slight_smile:

“excited to hear what Zach has pulled together to make this happen”

All the Z-train on this one . . .


I’m mostly curious if they’re going to actually focus on the games or if it’s going to be more about the personalities. I would very much prefer they focus on the games, but frankly I’m just happy it’s going to be on TV.

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Seems like the perfect time to toss a DE Monday Night Football in the bank!


My favorite game over music in all of pinball.

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I could imagine them cherry-picking a couple folks with a story angle, like Escher (youngest world champ), Robert (Wizard Mode & HBO Real Sports) or Jeff Teolis (ginger). Probably depends on who makes it to the ladder or final four.

(j/k, love you Jeff)


Here’s a Sportsnight segment with Keith Olbermann from 25 years ago. Turns out Zach and ESPN go way back.


The formula is to profile and build up stories about the competitors. You have to build a case of why the viewer cares about this competitor at all. It’s why you see programs cut to pre-recorded background pieces on the competitors, talk about who/why/history/etc. It’s how you get people that really aren’t super passionate about the sport itself, interested in watching a competition about it. Look at any olympics coverage… it’s usually one of the more blatant examples of this ‘hero building’ idea that you use to get your viewers to want to root for someone to do well, etc.

Tons of people who don’t care about sking at all… know characters like Lindsey Von… Shaun White… etc. And that’s not just because of their medals… it’s the production. Every TV sport tries to do that. Only the sports that have the big entrenched audiences become live and all about the competition itself. Everyone else has to make it ‘human drama/struggle’ as well to widen their viewership to make it sticky with casual viewers.


Guess I’m an atypical viewer. I’ve watched shows on lots of non-mainstream sports, from extreme mountain biking to drone racing to billiards, and I tune out the people profiles and just watch the action. I want to see skill exhibited, I don’t need to know the players’ backgrounds.


Outside of pinball, do you have any favorite athletes? That’s what I need. If not a team to root for, a player to root for. I watched the Miami Dolphins lose for a lot of years because you never knew when Dan Marino might come up with yet another fourth quarter come from behind win.

OTOH, I watched the Warriors lose for years because the coach, Don Nelson, played an up tempo game. They’d score 120 many nights, but the other team would score 135. That was more entertainment than a serious rooting interest. Globetrotters vs the Generals. Entertain me or give me an athlete I can root for.


I think @flynnibus is exactly right on this one… it’s why Lindsey Vonn has remained popular even as she’s battled through career-ending injuries… why Tiger Woods has remained a crowd favorite even though he hasn’t done much in the past 5 years. The big stories don’t always have to be about the best players, but they tend to be about the players with the best stories.

Certainly the epic and enduring strength of someone like @sk8ball is noteworthy and will be celebrated – rightfully so – but some people will be thrilled to root for someone who might be an underdog due to age (old or young), gender, disability, or just because they’ve had an unexpected hot streak. That’s really human nature. Let the producers skillfully present a tale of adversity, and let the audience see how the story unfolds.

Look, I love Keith Elwin. He’s arguably the best competitive pinball player ever. He’s a gentleman, now an accomplished game designer, and a generally cool dude. But if I’m in the booth calling the finals of a major tournament where he’s playing – as I’ve been fortunate enough to do – a little part of me is rooting against him. No offense, Keith. It’s basically a David vs Goliath thing. In this role, I know that if Keith sweeps to an insurmountable lead, it’s a crappy story. Of course Keith is winning. Maybe he doesn’t even have to play the last game. Blah. But if there’s some chance for an outsider? Hell yeah, I’m taking that for all it’s worth. And the spectators are too. This is the situation we should embrace, just as many NFL fans root for whoever is battling the New England Patriots in next year’s Super Bowl. Let’s build a story that everyone loves.


No offense, by American Olympics coverage (NBC) is the worst. They focus on the American athletes to the point of forgetting to actually show the events and the best in the world. Yes Canadian coverage highlights Canadians, and country pride is part of the Olympics, but our coverage is much more balanced on highlighting the sport and the demonstration of skill, regardless of who is competing.


I think what they really need is to follow a local legend player from his home to the event. Now since it’s in Chicago that player should really be taking the train, even if they don’t actually take the train in real life.

@sk8ball . . . make this happen! If only so you can let all of us know how awkward it is to step on the red line with a camera crew following you around :slight_smile:


In some cases, yes, but more based on their attitude and play style rather than their “story.”

Pretty much why I’ve not watched a lick of olympics coverage in decades. Too much ancilliary garbage, too much advertising, too little sport.


They are on TV for entertainment… and that’s what they are pushing. 99.99% of the population don’t get a hoot about the biathlon, what it takes to compete or be successful there. Dedicating a lot of time to it and praising it won’t really keep the viewers engaged. They spend enough time on it so people understand WTF is going on, what is expected, and then focus on the story of competition.

Maybe you don’t like it… but that’s what producing entertainment is about. And maybe the American producers know that more than the Canadian ones do…

It’s not that you need to know their backgrounds - but its a tactic used to build some level of compassion or interest in the outcome besides "athelete Joe who Ive never heard of before beats Bob… who I’ll never see again and I have no idea what so ever if that was a good things, hard thing, or just a normal ass kicking by Joe’.

You need context to make the thing engaging… especially to an audience that may have no immediate attachment to the sport itself. They use things like the player’s past performance… player’s recent struggles or not… past h2h… a heart-strings story about what level of sacrafice maybe the competitor went through to be here… yadda yadda yadda.

These are all production techniques used to get the audience to ‘care’ or at least have an INTEREST in the outcome in some way.

People don’t want to watch 20mins of boring… for 30 seconds of climatic conclusion – Especially when they have no pre-existing interest in the subject matter or people. You won’t have anyone ‘do their homework’ before the show either. So the TV production packages all that knowledge, association, and ‘why should I care’ into how the competition is presented… so the audience DOES stay engaged and does get satisfaction in some way for the final result.