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Tim Arsenault: Ya blew it, TSN

Jay Onrait (left) and Dan O’Toole mug for the camera upon arriving in Korea in this photo from Onrait's Facebook page.
Jay Onrait (left) and Dan O’Toole mug for the camera upon arriving in Korea in this photo from Onrait's Facebook page. - Submitted

Sending people halfway around the world to lead off their sportscast with NHL and NBA highlights seems like a bit of a waste.

But that’s what’s happening on SportsCentre with Jay and Dan every weekday morning on TSN during the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole have been back at the Toronto-based sports channel since September, following a close to four-year foray in the States. Fox Sports 1 poached them in a bid to challenge ESPN, the entrenched leader in sports TV down there.

After Fox Sports had a change in leadership and direction last year, the Jay and Dan brand was welcomed back home. Given the multi-channel nature of TSN now, the pair’s mix of highlights and humour is offered as an alternative to a more staid version of what happened in the sports world any given day.

Enjoy all the Armchair athleticism, follow the Games here.

But they seem to be flying under the radar at these Games. If there’s been much promotion of their assignment, I’ve missed it. On the other hand, it would probably be different if CTV, TSN’s big network sibling, was the main Olympics rights holder for Canada. But that’s CBC, which does dole out a few hours of coverage to TSN and Sportsnet.

Tim Arsenault
Tim Arsenault

Jay and Dan would have to do some pretty outstanding work to compete. Well, based on a couple samplings, the first block of the show is pretty much hockey highlights from North America, delivered from a rooftop set, with our hosts decked out in winter jackets and mountain scenery as a backdrop. The second segment has bona fide Olympics action.

But Jay and Dan fans can get that anywhere. It’s not until the back half of the show that you find The Adventures of Jay and Dan in South Korea, a travelogue-type segment that has featured a trip to the demilitarized zone and a street that has nothing but coffee shops. There’s also a regular bit that has O’Toole attempting to taste-test various unorthodox Korean delicacies. Better are casual on-set interviews with Canadian Olympians like medal-winning lugers Sam Edney and Alex Gough.

But aside from accumulating air miles, it’s hard to see what the overall goal was.

There’s a regular Jay and Dan segment called Ya Blew It! Whoever drew up the coverage plan for them in South Korea might be in the running for a future episode.

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