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The Haney Project: Despite tiny Nielsen ratings, it's compelling television

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Written By

March 29th, 2009

barkley1

Last Thursday night, I saw that all (currently, four) of the episodes of The Haney Project, a reality show on the Golf Channel where Tiger Wood's coach Hank Haney attempts to fix Charles Barkley's golf swing, were available via Comcast's on-demand.  They weren't available in HD, but sadly, there is much more content available on-demand in standard definition. 

This is annoying for me primarily because my TV has a pretty big screen (61") and as a rule, the bigger your TV, the worse lower quality stuff looks.  In other words, something compressed to look good on an iPhone won't look good even on a 24" monitor, and will be unwatchable in full screen mode on a 42" screen.  And look much, much worse on a 61" screen.

Fortunately the standard definition available via on-demand isn't made to look good on an iPhone screen, so it looks OK even at 61" (not great, but OK, it looks very good on a 24" screen and I imagine looks just fine on a 42" screen).

But I sure wish Comcast would make more of its on-demand offerings available in HD, especially when things are originally broadcast in HD.  The Haney Project is broadcast in HD when it airs, but so are Battlestar Galactica, Burn Notice and Saving Grace - and those shows are only available via on-demand in standard definition versions as well.  Come on Comcast hook me up with more HD on-demand!!

Anyway...

Back to Barkley.  I meant to write about this the other day and saw that our pal and my favorite mogul Ted Leonsis linked to a video of the improvements to Barkley's swing.  Having watched all four episodes, I know that while that video is accurate, it is misleading.  But linking to it is probably a more productive use than complaining on Twitter about bad officiating and getting fined (another!) $25,000.

Here is the video Ted linked to:

Ted's video link prompted me to send him the following:

Ted, I've actually been watching this show - it's about 20 minutes per episode and while not particularly good, it's the proverbial train wreck and you just can't avert your eyes.

Haney is amazing, but that video you link to is very misleading even though there is nothing doctored about it at all.  The very first time they went out on the golf course AFTER that appearance on TNT (like the very next day, in Atlanta at a course owned by Dr. J) Barkley reverted to his old swing :-(

How it ends, up, I don't know yet.    Haney is amazing and there are a couple of things about Barkley that make it very interesting.  One, he used to have (circa 1994) a decent swing and was ~12 handicap.  He still has a very decent short game.  It does seem to be all in his head, and it's interesting the pressure points for people - he was pretty steady shooting free throws in front of 20,000 In The Arena and millions more on television with the game on the line, but golf really gets in his head.

There's real human drama, and at some level it's tragically gut-wrenching.  One of his colleagues at TNT said, "If he can't enjoy golf, all he really has is food and gambling."

Here's hoping he finds a way to be able to enjoy golf.

-

I really feel that way, too.  Barkley is human and has all the more than his fair share of foibles that come with Being Human, and like professional golfer John Daly, lives his life, foibles and all, right in the public eye.  For me, Barkley is the more entertaining, even if his golf game isn't as good, and I don't think Barkley is in quite as much denial as Daly, but before The Haney Project even aired the news came that Barkley had been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol on New Year's Eve.

Barkley has already served his jail time for this, and ever the honest man, it is no surprise that he was perhaps excessively honest while under the influence.  That couldn't have occurred more than a couple of weeks after the most recent episode of The Haney Project took place and since only four episodes have aired so far, I'm not sure if and how the DUI will be worked in.

In one of the episodes someone says, that the swing is so awful it's mesmerizing and that no matter how many times you see it, you must look at it again.    Whether it's the train wreck of the swing, or the train wreck of the man, or both combined, I couldn't avert my eyes.

While I can't give the show high marks in terms of production values and there's an awful lot of repetition (you get to see the swing over and over, as well as people trash talking it over and over), I couldn't avert my eyes and watched all of the first four episodes in one sitting.  If you don't have that kind of time, but do have it available via on-demand, and are any kind of a golf or Barkley fan, I recommend looking at at least the most recent episode.

New episodes of The Haney Project air on Mondays at 9pm.  Here are the Nielsen average audience numbers for the initial airing of the first 3 episodes (I won't see the data for the fourth until this coming Tuesday, 3/31).

Show Date Time Net Live+SD Viewers
The Haney Project 3/2/2009 9:00pm GOLF 435,000
The Haney Project 3/9/2009 9:00pm GOLF 360,000
The Haney Project 3/16/2009 9:00pm GOLF 418,000

The episodes air (literally) over 20 times a week, so many more people see it than the initial airings on Mondays, and this of course doesn't count in on-demand viewing.  Also, despite the seemingly small numbers, for the week ending 3/22, the airing above from 3/16 was the most-watched program on the Golf channel for the week.

 
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