Billy Joel Viewers Furious as CBS Cancels MSG 'Piano Man' Broadcast: 'Major Blunder'

Broadcast blunder disrupts Billy Joel's milestone MSG concert.

by Nouman Rasool
Billy Joel Viewers Furious as CBS Cancels MSG 'Piano Man' Broadcast: 'Major Blunder'
© Jason Koerner/Getty Images

The fans went wild at his 100th concert at Madison Square Garden after CBS, in the middle of a song, cut off the broadcast to the local news. The Sunday night interruption has sparked a round of CBS bashing, with critics ranging from fans to even employees of the network, who have taken to venting their frustration in public.

The concert, which featured Billy Joel performing a series of hits from his decades-long career, was slightly delayed due to CBS’s extended coverage of the Masters golf tournament. This delay set the stage for the later disruption.

As Joel, aged 74, reached the climactic moments of "Piano Man"—with the audience at MSG passionately singing along—the broadcast was unexpectedly cut off. In numerous cities, screens went black, only to return with the start of the local news.

Fans, Anchors React

Fans took to social media, however, expressing their frustration. One viewer tweeted: "Hey @CBS wtf is this?! You cut off @billyjoel during 'Piano Man' of all songs?! And then didn't come back to it?!?!

Now wonder network TV is a mess. Not ballin', not ballin' at all." Another lamented the overall production, criticizing the excessive commercial breaks, the omission of some of Joel's best songs, a disorderly set list, and the abrupt jump to the news.

The frustration was palpable even among CBS affiliates. Rex Smith, an anchor at CBS affiliate WANE 15 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, expressed his apologies online: "I apologize to the people who were enjoying Billy Joel singing on TV then all of a sudden had to see my face.

I’d have picked Billy Joel over me, too." Similarly, Evan Closky, sports director of 10 Tampa Bay in Florida, reflected on the incident, “As a man who grew up right next to Billy Joel’s hometown, who went to The Last Play at Shea, it was my duty to apologize to everyone about cutting off our telecast of Billy Joel tonight." CBS has been heavily promoting the Billy Joel concert special for weeks, making the timing of the cut-off even more jarring for fans.

The network's decision to preempt the concert for a half-hour before severing it during one of Joel's most beloved tracks has left many questioning the coordination and decision-making of CBS's broadcast schedule. The incident underscores a broader issue with network television's handling of live events, where commercial imperatives often undermine the viewing experience.