Too many panelists

Bill Simmons over at has been obsessed with the growing number of panelists on NFL pre-game studio shows in recent years.

It used to be that you could have a pretty effective show with a studio host and a 2-3 man supporting crew. Then, over the past couple years, CBS and Fox upped the ante and added a fourth member, crowding an already tight picture. This, of course, paled in comparison to the complete clusterfuck that NBC put together for their pre-game show, where no less than seven different analysts make their appearance during the 75 minute show.

Why am I mentioning this? Check out the video of this week's roundtable on ABC's This Week (ABC does not provide an embed code, so you have to click the link and then get 0:16 into the video):

Yep, you're seeing that right. Five separate panelists in addition to George Stephanopoulos. The set is so crowded that they have to seat Matt Cooper with his back to the camera, thus also blocking the view of Chrystia Freeland.

What's the benefit of this? Are we really gaining something by having a fifth member on the panel (and I would argue that Matthew Dowd brings pretty much nothing to the table)?

No, what this ends up doing is cutting down the amount of time that each panelist gets to make his/her points. Not only does it keep those who actually have expertise in a certain area from really getting to discuss them in depth, but it encourages each member to make more extreme and forceful comments to get their point across. After all, there's no real consequence to getting a bit out there or misstating facts, since there's no time to refute them.

If the morning shows really wanted to be more informative, they could cut down on the number of panelists and have a more in-depth discussion about the issues of the week. Instead, they've just decided that more is better, though all it really does is produce louder conversations, rather than better.

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