Deep Inside The Comcast/TV Guide Sports Listing ConspiracyS

I've been hard on Comcast, because well....they're an evil cable company and they deserve it. But we're received a flood of emails proving that the wacky game descriptions we've been spotting are not their fault. It's like a peeling onion.

A lot of people wrote in about this, and like vandalism, whippits, and underage drinking, it's all a by-product of some bored kids looking to have a good time. For starters, Comcast wants it known that they are not responsible for providing the descriptions themselves. The data for their on-screen guide is compiled by a company called Rovi, formerly Macrovision, which is a remnant of the listings division of the old TV Guide. (They still own the trademark, which is why you see the TV Guide logo on Comcast and other cable systems.) In some instances, all the program data is submitted by the channel itself, but the rest is compiled and edited by Rovi's schedulers and editors. Editors who must do something make their lives meaningful.

I just spoke to a secret Rovi employee who confirmed what I suspected all along—boredom. The editors who write game descriptions are constrained by a stylebook and a character limit (it has to fit on the cable system's screen, after all) and the fact there are only so many ways you can say, "The Clippers are playing the Warriors tonight." You would go slightly mad, too, if you had to do that for 40 hours a week.

Just for the record, we're not criticizing them for their choices. It's actually quite amusing and we'd would like to see them take their writing to greater heights. (And we'd still like to hear from an actual editor.) Try to work a plus/minus reference in there, will ya? (Also, they're hiring! Scheduling reporters don't get to write the descriptions, but it's a foot in the door!)

Finally, while a Comcast employee wanted to make it perfectly clear that they don't write the descriptions for NBA games, the Rovi employee wanted to make it perfectly clear that they don't write the descriptions for the cable company's On Demand service, because ... whoo-boy ... those are pretty bad.