Well, today's Indiana / Wisconsin game, the CBS NCAA feed on local channel 17.1, proved me, um,... optimistic? about the 5.1 sound on broadcast sports feeds.
I was hearing something odd in the crowd sound, so finally just dropped the center channel out. The remaining 4.1 sound was... interesting. But not in a good way. The crowd sound was amazingly compressed, and using a poorly set up compressor. The result made the crowd sound seem to "breath" up and down. It was especially odd when the home team made a basket -- the crowd sound would jump up with lots of clapping and shouting -- which the compressor dutifully stomped the crap out of, but only after half a second or so -- so you got a wave of clapping that suddenly dropped off, and by that I mean way off, close to silence.
This wasn't easy to hear with the center channel active since they had the arena sound so low in the mix, but it did manage to make a sell-out sound like a bunch of empty seats. The crowd sounds were actually down around the level of the sneaker squeeks and ball bounce sounds, and underneath what happens when the ball hits the rim, which was ridiculously loud in comparison to the other sounds in the mix.
And today's game was a marked improvement over the sound from the Pitt / Duke game on... Thursday? The "take the arena PA announcer out" trick just destroyed the crowd sound there. Yucko. I've been to games at Cameron, it's small and loud, nothing like what they gave us.
Ah well. I upgraded to 5.1 for blu-rays and Netfilx, not for broadcast. I shouldn't be so disappointed. But the broadcasters should be -- they can do a lot better.