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Broken System: A critical look at the current DBS Tournament System

 Raphael Majida, Staff Contributor

The Distribution & Broadcast Tournament System challenges the top Film and Television franchises but many seem to think the current system needs a complete overhaul.

FILM TOURNAMENT SYSTEM                                                                                                                            DBS 2019

Since its inception the DBS has faced criticism for its structure in governing both the competing Box Office releases (MPS-Motion Picture Standard) and how it regulates the winning value of broadcast and cable television shows (ESS-Entertainment Series Standard). Critics have sounded off vehemently that scheduling is the main point of contention and that some films and television shows benefit more than others due to the time of year of their releases, the release time of year of course for the most part determines which shows will compete on any particular schedule. If you’re familiar with the DBS system then you’d might be able to agree, if however you’re a novice to the system then let us catch you up to date.


The DBS (Distribution & Broadcast Tournament System) divides into two portions: MPS for feature length box office films in competition and the ESS - any scripted series on TV and Cable, see above for the long definition. The problem is this, generally, say a series like Fear The Walking Dead starts its series run in June and airs every Sunday, then according to ESS rules Fear The Walking Dead will only compete against other series airing the same day or in some circumstances if its played out everyone who usually airs on Sunday more than twice then the series would be given what is called a “Carry Over” that means it can compete against a series that airs on Saturday or Monday but never anything more than a day before or after.

Scheduling seems to be the issue that everyone is complaining about, scheduling in the sense that some shows may compete only against weaker caliber and build a stellar record as a result, maybe even going undefeated so does that mean that show is technically a winning caliber program? The same can be said of the MPS at the box office, a film released during August or September during the industry’s not so Award caliber season can ease its way to DBS Qualification vs say December or January when the industry wants to disperse its best for FYC season. Since this is the case then yes the DBS is a broken system however its the best a system can get for this type of competition and regulation. It’s for these reasons we have a playoff system where we take those who may have had cake walk schedules and achieved a Division Title and we put them against the iron from other divisions, what doesn’t come out in the wash will come out in the rinse, the best will eventually emerge above those who may have skated their way through the season. It’s not a perfect system at face value granted but its far more palatable and exciting than what the Academy has to offer and it definitely voids politics on all levels.

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