A very, VERY belated sports graphics roundup.

I probably should have done this before the baseball playoffs started. I definitely should have done this before basketball season started, I certainly should have done this before the NHL lockout ended, and I sure as hell should have done this before the Daytona 500. I probably should do this before spring training really gets going.

It was only a few months after going logo-only on its baseball graphic that Fox pulled a surprising and disappointing about-face, debuting a football graphic that hearkens back to the very earliest incarnation of the Fox Box. Fox went from being a pioneer of the logo-only approach to the only NFL partner not to use logos at all, at least on the constant version of the graphic, and from having perhaps the best integration of timeout indicators to the worst.

I guess this is part of Fox’s preparation for the launch of Fox Sports 1 – the same graphic also appeared on FX’s and FSN’s college football coverage, introducing more NFL-college consistency than existed last year, and a similar graphic debuted during Fox’s coverage of the NLCS, complete with pitch count (once a pitcher has thrown about 40 or so, that is, which leaves an odd space below the diamond before that). But if that’s the case, it surprises me that FSN’s basketball and certainly hockey coverage continues to use the old graphic. Hockey in particular seems perfectly suited to this new graphic.

Fox’s move looks especially bad in the wake of what CBS trotted out during the Super Bowl. In the past, I might have thought this graphic was a one-time deal because of the Super Bowl, but not only do I expect it to start taking over CBS’ other sports full-time, I’d actually prefer if this was the basis for the graphic used during the NCAA Tournament, instead of the abomination CBS and Turner trotted out last year (and was still present on truTV during the Coaches v. Cancer Classic).

CBS adopts the same font ESPN and several other places have been using, and should make Fox the only major sports entity not to use the two-line box for player information in some sport. Furthermore, its use of timeout indicators goes from worst in the league to at least on par with the primetime partners.

I trust Turner to improve on last year regardless, judging by their new NBA graphics. It’s a bit bulky (especially in SD widescreen), and I could do without the massive tab showing whether a team is in the bonus, but even that is miles better than what Turner graced us with during the Tournament.

Although maybe Time Warner Cable SportsNet managed to come up with what TNT’s graphics should really look like, with one of the best implementations of not only timeout indicators, but even the bonus indicator, I’ve yet seen.

Now let’s take a quick trip through the league-owned networks, shall we? Sticking with basketball, NBATV seems desperate to suggest their games aren’t just ripped from local broadcast partners with their own graphics slapped on, but the end result ends up playing distracting animations a bit too often, though it is a more professional graphic otherwise. Though I do have to ask what those extensions below the team names are for; unlike NBC with Sunday Night Football, NBATV doesn’t have the excuse that timeout indicators haven’t come along yet.

It’s not quite as professional, though, as the NHL Network, which manages to almost completely hide its ripped-from-the-RSN nature. Unfortunately, I can’t find a video of it…

NFL Network, meanwhile, moved to a more conventional banner, and as always there’s not much I have to say about it.

And of course, we have a new player in the sports network landscape, the Pac-12 Networks, and with it a new graphics package. It’s a serviceable package that you can tell really stresses the Pac-12 logo shape. It’s very good considering the Pac-12 was launching a new network from scratch without a partner.

The basketball version, though, is oddly asymmetric, with the team names always on the left side of the score despite the graphic itself being centered. The result is that the bonus indicator is under the team name for the road team but under the score for the home team. The fact that it’s italicized for the double bonus only only adds to the distraction.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention NBC’s Olympics graphics, as well as the new graphics introduced for the world feed, which I don’t particularly like. I see what they’re trying to do, but the slant on the flags seems too cutesy for something that’s going to be seen all over the world, the font is surprisingly generic, and graphics for showing scores for head-to-head sports just look ugly:

Meanwhile, NBC decided to make only minor changes to its new post-NBCSN graphics package for the Olympics.

Michael Phelps Talks With Bob Costas (July, 1… by ananula
Comcast SportsNet has been updating its own graphics packages to match that of the rest of the NBC Sports family… but the actual score graphics are basically straight template swaps of the old ones, with a slight exception for baseball I’ll get to next time (hint: CSN has adopted pitch count).

Of course, I’d much prefer NBC itself adopt these instead of the bulky numbers they have now, but I’m not feeling how it looks for a box on basketball.

Root Sports has added logos to its Penguins hockey coverage.

Finally, in the middle of last year NESN changed graphics again, to something not entirely unlike ESPN’s baseball graphics. It might be the best graphics package in baseball right now.

Hopefully the next roundup will come in less than half a year’s time!

One Comment

  1. Cedric Baker
    Posted March 10, 2013 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    I think the simplified Fox Box is one of the best sports graphics currently in use. The lack of logos is unusual but welcome given that logos in sports graphics are often condensed or partially obscured to save space, which I think defeats the purpose of using logos to identify teams in said graphics. I agree that the timeout indicators on the football version are kind of forced into their position.

    Also, NESN changed their baseball scorebox again as of the start of spring training. Here’s what it looks like now: http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=25702691&topic_id=&c_id=bos&tcid=vpp_copy_25702691&v=3

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