World Cup viewers deserve start-time honesty from Fox

Memo to Fox Sports: Tell us the right start times for the World Cup games.

Fox is disrespecting its audience by promoting its World Cup games an hour earlier than they actually kick off. It’s a bad-faith TV practice that most, if not all, of the networks perpetrate, but it is particularly egregious for the World Cup from Russia.

Most fans who want to watch the games on a work day, like Friday, have to make special arrangements to see it, between a job, child care or whatever else is going on in life. So Fox promotes, on screen, its marquee Friday matchup of Spain-Portugal by listing its coverage starting at 1 p.m., when the game is scheduled for 2.

On Saturday, it has the nerve to say that France-Australia is at 5 a.m. when it actually begins at 6 a.m.

Fox Sports declined an on-the-record comment when asked to defend the practice, but officials said that they try to build up to kickoff. Among the examples they used, the officials compared it to a movie in which you go to see previews. We countered that previews run, like, 15 minutes.

The other point the officials made is that it is the industry standard to not say the exact start time.

The everyone-does-it defense doesn’t fly, especially since the World Cup is from Russia. The time difference makes it difficult for people to know when games actually begin. Fox doesn’t make it easier, while just annoying viewers who plan an hour before kickoff.

What is so frustrating about the whole practice by all networks, not just Fox, is that they could just say: Pregame coverage begins at 1 p.m., while the kickoff is at 2.

It is easy and builds trust with your audience. The idea that networks will somehow get more viewers by telling people wrong information is inane. TV people, you are just annoying your most loyal audience members!

Quick Clicks: When ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel and Sen. Ted Cruz settle their feud at Texas Southern University by playing basketball against each other Saturday, they will have a special play-by-play announcer: Gus Johnson.

Johnson, known for his excitable calls, will call the matchup, according to Fox Sports spokesman Eddie Motl.

Kimmel and Cruz have sparred on Twitter after, among other things, Kimmel compared Cruz’s looks to a blobfish. The segment is expected to be on Kimmel’s ABC show next week.

— Incidentally, this was the World Cup on which Johnson was supposed to be Fox’s lead play-by-player, but, smartly, everyone involved realized it wasn’t a good idea considering his inexperience with the sport and the passion of the game’s fans.

— Fox’s “Brownie Points” on its US Open coverage is a winner. Course reporter Ken Brown hits the right notes, giving viewers a good feel of how a hole will play with creative demonstration methods, such as using a basketball to more easily show how a golf ball will roll. Brown’s passion for the segments comes through.

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