Every single network that airs football had new graphics this year. CBS and FOX added some fancy new graphics. ESPN created a package unique to Monday Night Football. And NBC had to start from scratch for Sunday Night Football. At first glance, they all look pretty decent:
Not terrible, right? Well, here’s the problem: the designers of these graphics don’t seem to understand how so many people watch football. I watch football in a bar on Sundays. I’ve got six screens laid out in front of me, and I’ve probably a got a nice beer buzz going. But if I want to see what the score is on the TV that’s six feet to my right, I’m screwed. My vision is blurry, and the graphics are just too damn small. This is how I would see those screens from a distance:
Now, ESPN’s Monday Night Football has gotten a lot of flack for their new “score widget” and its awkward placement:
1. The graphics are at the bottom of the screen, which make them closer to your eyes when you’re looking up at a TV.
2. The graphics make it abundantly clear who has possession of the ball, who got penalized, and who just scored.
3. The score is remarkably visible, even from a distance. In fact, even the clock is easy to read from a distance. ESPN’s new graphics are like the large-print edition of Reader’s Digest.
Of course, ESPN has no need for these graphics: when they’re airing an NFL game, there’s no other game to watch, so you’re much more likely to be close to the screen. Not to mention that their game is in primetime, when elderly football viewers like Mike Ditka, Don Shula, Jimmy Johnson, and my dad are already asleep. But thanks, ESPN, for leading the way in bar-friendly sports graphics.