Delay of game; five yard penalty. And forward progress toward the goal of getting new NFL fans in China is stalled indefinitely.
All the news reports said that Mayday’s NFL show would start on October 29, but looking at the CCTV-5 viewing schedule, the evening was filled with professional snooker (seriously, who watches billiards on t.v.?) and reruns of past gymnastics competitions. The NFL might have had great confidence in their ability to sell the sport in China with Mayday on board, but they were not confident enough to buy primetime airtime. Instead, the only NFL-related program started at midnight – technically on the 30th, really.
Dutiful fans of the band
planed planned* to stay up. If the baidu “tieba” threads are any indication, the timing knocked out a huge chunk of the audience – lots of college dorms shut off power by 11:30 to save energy, and younger fans had parents who balked at letting kids stay up that late on a school night… and have it not be for homework. But for the people who could watch, they waited with excitement (I confess that I only caught it because I was still up at 11:50 and thought “might as well stay up.” I had planned to go to bed and just watch it online the next day).
The program started with a roundup of the Week 6 game highlights, complete with explanations of why plays were important, how they worked, and slow-motion reruns showing how they came together. Lots of commentary. About fifteen minutes into the half-hour show, I noticed that music in the background was switching between Mayday’s “Jump!” “Sun Wu Kong,” and “Stubbornness.” (The last of which might not sound to you like a good football soundtrack, but the lyrics certainly capture the attitudes of fans sticking with their teams through tough times. Needless to say, as a Vikings fan I relate to it, but “stubbornness” has to pretty much sum up those who still support Detroit after they became the first team in NFL history to go a whole season without winning a game last year.)
After about a half hour of game highlights backed by Mayday music… it was over. On to tennis. “What…..?” asked Mayday fans all across China. “Wait… what?” their friends replied.
Looking at the Baidu thread for the program, which lit up with activity after it was over, I’d have to conclude that if NFL China was trying to use Mayday to convert music fans into football fans, the whole project just took a giant step back. “Without Mayday in the program, who would watch this?” one person wondered. Another promised never to forgive the NFL/CCTV-5 for forcing fans to wait up for a program that didn’t deliver the promised goods. Many frustrated remarks that the organizers were trying to trick them into watching the program – because who else would bother to watch such a program at such an hour? Not a lot of nice things to say about the NFL there. (Now to be fair, some who woke up this morning, having missed the excitement, will not go seek out the program to hear the background music, with decidedly lowered expectations.)
I actually enjoyed watching the highlights, even though I already knew how the games came out, because there was some nice footage of the Vikings against the Ravens (a game we almost lost – a missed field goal in the last 2 seconds ensured our victory). But I do have to admit I could have done without the extended slow-motion replay explaining how the Baltimore player got through not one, not two, but three Vikings defensive backs without any of the Vikings managing to touch him. *shakes head* No wonder the Vikings lost this past Sunday. Defense!
So, when will the program that Mayday recorded in September be airing? Dunno. Your guess is as good as mine at this point. And having been faked out once, any defensive line worth its salt won’t fall for the same trick on the very next play (right, Minnesota? RIGHT?!?), so don’t expect there to be a lot of Mayday fans watching next week to see if it’s any different. NFL China, your season is off to a shaky start.
[Edit: *Lol, Smokey - no, no late night woodworking for me, anyway.]