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Media Meltdowns

That Stupid Fucking Dragon Ad Is Just The Start

Dragon CGI
Image via TBS

Upon returning from a pitching change break in Tuesday night’s Guardians-Yankees game, TBS play-by-play announcer Bob Costas introduced an ad for a TV show about a dragon with the same tone of voice he’d use if a first-base coach had been hit by a line drive. Briefly misleading viewers into thinking that there was some reason why this playoff game was almost canceled, he then threw to Turner Sports personality Lauren Shehadi, who gave a phony report about said dragon hanging out at the ballpark, complete with crappy mixed-reality animation.

This sucks, obviously. No one liked it. It’s embarrassing that Costas and Shehadi would actively try and trick baseball fans into paying attention to an advertisement, sacrificing the future credibility of all their back-from-break intros and sideline reporting on the altar of corporate synergy. What a stupid tradeoff to make, especially for a product that doesn’t even need this extra push to pull a massive audience.

But if you’ve been following the Warner Bros. Discovery mess over the last few months, this doesn’t come as much of a surprise, and it’s near certain that TBS and TNT (which has NBA and NHL rights) will pull more of these cheap stunts going forward. The newly formed WBD, which was birthed earlier this year from the unholy marriage of Warner Media and Discovery Inc., has its tentacles in such wide-ranging media properties as DC Comics, HBO, CNN, MLB Network, and NBA TV. It also seems like an absolutely awful place to work, with layoffs coming constantly as president and CEO David Zaslav tries to trim a whopping $3 billion from the company’s books.

His cost-cutting is most easily seen in what viewers have lost: nearly finished projects shelved for tax write-offs, movies disappeared from HBO Max, new scripted programming development stopped at TNT and TBS. But the attempts to wring every last dollar of profit out of this media empire before the collapse of cable television are also apparent in the changes to what’s been allowed to continue. The MLB playoff dragon has a clear forebear in a goofy cross-promotional main event from a July AEW Dynamite episode, also on TBS, in which the company was asked by higher-ups to create a “Shark Week tie-in match,” and as a result placed several wrestlers in a shark cage.

Does this mean we should expect Wayne Gretzky in Joker makeup during one of TNT’s NHL games this year? Maybe not, but also maybe. As the country’s most famous sports personalities continue to cross the line dividing reporter or analyst from shill, it’s safe to expect more of these half-baked ideas to emerge from the WBD swamp. The dragon that nearly delayed the ALDS will not be an aberration.


I have one other point to make real quick. The TBS misdirect, and its use of a somber introduction for complete nonsense, particularly troubled me and the rest of the Defector staff, because we’re going through some uncertain times right now that have put a real strain on our mental health. We actually weren’t even sure we were going to be able to bring you any blogs at all today, due to a shocking, wild development at the company.

You see, Defector’s Chief Metaverse Officer, Devin the Mixed-Reality Dugong, has been causing all kinds of havoc in the Defector offices, disrupting our work and turning our shared space into his own personal House of the Dugong.

We will keep you posted on all of Devin the Mixed-Reality Dugong’s activities. In the meantime, please like, subscribe, and follow Devin the Dugong on all social media accounts.