Category Archives: ESPN Is The Devil

Politics and the art of broadcast consolidation

81Dog emailed me about this Wall Street Journal article, provocatively titled “How a weakened ESPN became consumed by politics”.  It begins with this:

John Skipper was furious.

One of his star anchors, Jemele Hill, had sent a tweet calling President Donald Trump a “white supremacist.” Mr. Trump’s supporters called for her to be fired. Prominent black athletes defended the anchor, who is African-American.

Sitting in his office last September, Mr. Skipper, then ESPN’s president, lit into Ms. Hill, according to people familiar with the meeting. If I punish you, he told her, I’d open us up to protests and come off as racist. If I do nothing, that will fuel a narrative among conservatives—and a faction within ESPN—that the network had become too liberal.

Mr. Skipper chose to spare Ms. Hill. Mr. Trump weighed in on Twitter: “ESPN is paying a really big price for its politics (and bad programming). People are dumping it in RECORD numbers.”

The president’s tweet was hyperbolic, but it tapped into real anxiety at ESPN. What was the way forward for a company shaken to its foundations by the cord-cutting revolution?

Ooh, Mickey’s doomed!  Is there anything Disney can do?

Before some of you snowflakes get too carried away with the narrative here, it’s worth remembering that the WSJ is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who’s not exactly anti-politics himself.  Murdoch, I doubt you need to be reminded, owns Fox.  And Fox just so happens to be a significant competitor in the sports broadcasting world to ESPN.  Let Andy Staples give you an example of that:

This all seems to suggest that broadcast networks NBC, CBS and Fox may be even more interested in college sports than they already were. Meanwhile, ESPN will continue to attempt to dominate the sport. (And games purchased by ESPN are actually being purchased by Disney, which also runs games on ABC using ESPN personnel and branding.) The Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC could use their own cable networks as leverage as well by threatening to put the best games on those networks and demanding a higher subscription fee. (The ACC, which will launch its own network next year, won’t have this option because all its rights are owned by Disney/ESPN until 2036.) If even one streaming service such as Amazon Prime or YouTube Red decided to jump into the fray, the bidding could be frenzied. Dean Jordan, who has helped the ACC launch its channel with ESPN and who has worked with the Big Ten and College Football Playoff on media rights deals, believes the competition for rights could be fairly diverse in the next round.

I only see one entity referred to there as dominating.  As the Journal piece grudgingly admits about the WWL, “They have some enormous challenges but they have by far the best brand in sports…”  So what’s a little snotty political questioning between two rivals?

It’s even better than that.  The Murdoch empire is looking to sell a piece of Fox Sports and the front-runner for the purchase is Comcast.  However, there is another interested party.  Who might that be?  You guessed it.

The alternative to a Comcast/Fox deal is Disney buying the Fox properties, which would also boost the size of a TV sports empire by joining Fox’s sports properties with Disney’s national sports channels. The Disney-owned ESPN and ABC have TV contracts for the NFL, college football and basketball, MLB, the NBA, various soccer leagues, and other sports.

ESPN and the Fox regional sports networks “together would account for 30 percent of all affiliate fees for basic cable networks and RSNs and a massive 58 percent of affiliate fees for basic cable sports networks and RSNs,” S&P Global Market Intelligence said in a recent report that Comcast pointed out to Ars.

Either way, a Fox deal would produce a bigger programming giant that could demand higher fees from cable and satellite TV providers that buy access to sports channels.

Wrinkles, wrinkles everywhere.

The only politics any of these assholes are consumed with are the ones that make them the most money.  Buy into the nonsense narratives pushed by the likes of Clay Travis if you want, but realize you’re being played.

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101 Comments

Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, Fox Sports Numbs My Brain, Political Wankery

David Pollack’s rules for success

Evidently, making it on ESPN is easier than we might think.

Pollack was hurt playing linebacker in his second season in the NFL, suffering a career-ending neck injury. It wasn’t until months later that he realized he had what it took, he thought, to be a college football analyst.

“While I was injured and recovering,” he said, “I would sit at home and watch ESPN and think to myself, ‘I can do that.’ I’m loud and I’m opinionated, that’s what they want, right?”

Since taking his job with ESPN, Pollack has worked hard to avoid being “a homer,” as he called it, for his former university. In his time as an analyst, Pollack has often picked against his old school in an effort to be honest in his analysis.

“I hear about (picking against Georgia) everywhere I go,” Pollack said. “But I remember when I was injured and studying broadcasting stuff, I vividly remember watching (former Notre Dame head coach) Lou Holtz on TV. I watched him pick Notre Dame every single time. I said, when I started my career on television, that I would never be a homer.

Works for me.  LOL.

41 Comments

Filed under ESPN Is The Devil

One thing ESPN is good at

Is there anything more quintessentially Mickey than this pot-stirring piece on the totally irrelevant (at least for 99% of the sports-viewing world) Alabama-Central Florida national title “debate”?

The sad thing is that I doubt it’ll be the last time the WWL touches on it.

24 Comments

Filed under ESPN Is The Devil

This is not the legacy we’re looking for.

Mike Slive, who passed away yesterday, by all accounts appears to have been a genuinely admired fellow who certainly played a significant role in college sports over the last two decades.  So I’m not trying to crap on his grave here, but damn, this ain’t right.

Leave it to an ESPN pundit to (1) patronize the South — “perceived” regional product, really? — and (2) praise Slive for turning the conference in a national direction.  I’m sure Mickey is thrilled by that, but if you don’t mind, I think I’ll cling to my fading perception as long as I can.  Those CFP brackets will be here soon enough.

59 Comments

Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, SEC Football

Today, in eyeballs

The next time somebody tells you an all SEC national title game would be a complete ratings disaster, set ’em straight.

The 2018 College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship Presented by AT&T between Georgia and Alabama on ESPN delivered the second biggest audience in cable television history, solidifying the College Football Playoff’s place in history as a ratings juggernaut with the four biggest TV audiences in cable history and seven of the top 10.  This year’s game produced a total live audience* of 29,932,000 viewers. The inaugural CFP game on ESPN in 2015 between Ohio State and Oregon remains No. 1 with 33,395,000 viewers.

And the next time somebody complains about there being too many bowl games…

The 39 postseason college bowl games on ABC, CBS, ESPN, ESPN2, FOX and FS1 at the conclusion of the 2017 season averaged 5,308,000 viewers per game (representing an 8 percent increase over last season and a 3 percent increase from two years ago) while reaching 122 million unique fans† on television. (The figures include the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl, which was played at the FCS level, but not the AutoNation Cure Bowl and the Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl, both telecast on CBSSN, which is not rated by Nielsen Media.)

Mickey’s certainly getting his money’s worth.

(h/t, believe it or not)

18 Comments

Filed under College Football, ESPN Is The Devil

“It’s a trade-off for our marketing partners.”

I am truly amazed NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was able to pull this off.

From last season to this one, based in large part on the data we gathered, we changed the format of our game. We went from a possible 18 time-outs to 14 time-outs, we standardized the length of the time-outs, and we shortened halftime by a few minutes. And we made additional changes to the commercial format, because we were able to see exactly where we were losing fans.

S+B: Where were you losing them?

SILVER: Not surprisingly, we lose the highest number of fans when we move off live action, especially at halftime. And we lose fans at every commercial break. So we’re experimenting, with Turner and ESPN, with not leaving the arena completely during commercial breaks, and instead having a split screen, where we stay with the huddle at the same time we show an ad.

That’s right, he was able to convince the networks to shear off some commercial breaks.  How?

… On the one hand, they’d like the full attention of a viewer. On the other hand, they might prefer to keep all of the viewers and find ways to create connections with their products and engage directly with the game.

Our games are roughly two hours and 15 minutes, but the average viewer is watching for approximately 50 minutes. We know that the most efficient way to increase our ratings is not to find someone who isn’t watching at all, but to take those people who are watching an average of 50 minutes and get them to watch 55 minutes. And that’s where changes in the presentations — finding other ways to engage fans, creating other data fields for our viewers, or using different audio experiences like player mics, or different camera angles — can help increase our ratings.

He had a persuasive argument and sufficient clout to sell this.  Again, color me amazed.

And, yeah, I get Jason Kirk’s point that every sport could learn a little something here, but can you think of a single person running a conference or the NCAA who has both the sense and the confidence to walk into CBS, Fox or ESPN and sell something like it?  Sadly, I can’t… at least not without laughing first.

13 Comments

Filed under College Football, ESPN Is The Devil, It's Just Bidness

College football’s most pointless “tradition” returns.

ESPN is thrilled.

Tuesday nights in November have meaning again.

9 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, ESPN Is The Devil