Category Archives: ESPN Is The Devil

“We’ve started a new tradition and we don’t want to back away from it now.”

I see Bill Hancock is moving his lips again.  The CFP is facing some pretty formidable pressure.

The College Football Playoff is under pressure on two fronts to adjust future schedules for its semifinals and championship games, sources say, but the CFP is standing firm on its original dates.

On one of those fronts, top ESPN executives are lobbying CFP officials to move next season’s semifinals off of New Year’s Eve where it would compete with highly rated star-filled countdown shows on several networks…

Sources say that senior network executives as high up as ESPN President John Skipper are pushing for the change as a way to get better television ratings, but the CFP is unwilling to make such a move because it is committed to the original plan to hold tripleheader bowl games, including the semifinals, on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day…

Meanwhile, the CFP is facing pressure on another front. The NFL is considering expanding its playoffs and moving one of the new games to Monday night when it would compete directly with the CFP championship.

Sources say NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell initiated a series of high-level meetings with some of the CFP’s most influential commissioners, including the SEC’s Mike Slive and the Big Ten’s Jim Delany. Goodell approached the commissioners to discuss the potential impact an NFL playoff expansion would have on the CFP championship game.

The 10 FBS commissioners and Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick make up the management council that oversees the College Football Playoff.

If the NFL ends up expanding the number of teams that make its postseason, the league would need two more TV windows to account for the new games. In separate meetings, Goodell told the college commissioners that any playoff expansion likely would put a wild-card game on Monday night, sources said.

The CFP’s 12-year contract with ESPN calls for the title game to be played on a Monday night, typically the second Monday in January.

Standing firm against ESPN and the NFL?  Yeah, suuurrre.

Hancock said his office has voiced its opposition to putting an NFL playoff game against the CFP championship on Monday night.

“We picked Monday night because it was open and it was the best night for our game. We announced that in June 2012,” Hancock said. “We established that our game was going to be on Monday night for 12 years.”

Given what we’ve seen of Hancock’s bluffing ability from past pronouncements, I have no doubt that Mickey will take his line in the sand with all the seriousness it deserves.  I doubt anyone’s quaking in his or her boots yet.

Adding fuel to the fire is that ESPN would be caught in the middle of any conflict between the CFP and NFL playoff expansion.

ESPN’s CFP contract mandates that the games are carried on ESPN — not ESPN2 or ESPNU, sources say. Plus, cable sources say that some of ESPN’s affiliate deals contain language that would prohibit the network from putting either the CFP championship or an NFL playoff game on ABC.

The NFL almost certainly would not allow one of its playoff games to move to ESPN2.

Still, the NFL could sell a Monday night playoff game to another network. A media industry source suggested that the NFL could look into packaging the new wild-card playoff games with its “Thursday Night Football” package beginning with the 2016 season. CBS last week signed a deal to keep that package for 2015.

Right.  The WWL could just give up an incredibly valuable franchise without a fight.

That’s not all that’s at stake here for the WWL.

The CFP semifinals on New Year’s Day already proved their ability to attract viewers. The semifinals — played at the Allstate Sugar Bowl and the Rose Bowl presented by Northwestern Mutual — each drew more than 28 million viewers. At the time, they were the two most-viewed programs in cable TV history.

The CFP championship game on Jan. 12 averaged 33.4 million viewers, becoming the first show in cable TV history to top 30 million viewers. Privately, ESPN insiders say they are prepared for double-digit drops in viewership if the semifinals remain on New Year’s Eve.

Get ready to hear about CFP’s new, new tradition, which is really about the only tradition college football cherishes these days – keeping the checks rolling in.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, ESPN Is The Devil, The NFL Is Your Friend.

Thursday morning buffet

There’s always something to spoon onto your plate.

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Filed under Coach O Needs Another Red Bull, ESPN Is The Devil, Georgia Football, It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major, Notre Dame's Faint Echoes, Political Wankery, Recruiting, Strategery And Mechanics, The Evil Genius, The NCAA, You Can't Put A Price Tag On Joe Paterno's Legacy

“I think we focus too much on [bowl] attendance.”

Football Bowl Association executive director Wright Waters said that because, as you can probably guess, overall bowl attendance is down for the fifth straight year.  And Waters thinks that really shouldn’t matter too much in the vast scheme of things.

“I’m not saying it’s not important. But some of our bowl games exist purely for the experience, and I think that’s where we probably need to focus as much as anything.

“I don’t think you can have a discussion about the health of bowls and limit it to attendance and payouts and ratings. If the attendance is down 4 percent and that’s the same as the regular season, I think it just speaks to the larger issue that we’ve got to get our arms around as an industry.”

He’s right, but not for any of those reasons.  He’s right because of this:

Even though ticket demand remained relatively low for many bowls, millions of viewers keep watching them. ESPN’s New Year’s Eve audience averaged 7.1 million viewers, up from 4.6 million the date in 2013 with far less-attractive games.

Even ESPN has some tinkering around the edges to do, though.

However, the Fiesta’s audience of 7.4 million was its lowest in Nielsen records and the Orange’s 8.9 million viewership was one of its lowest on record. The Peach dropped 43 percent by moving from primetime to an afternoon kickoff on Dec. 31.

So much for that Boise State national audience.  Or Georgia Tech’s, for that matter.

This is just so much wishful thinking on Waters’ part.

This postseason marked the first time many conferences had more control over bowl matchups. Ticket allotments that schools are required to purchase from bowls were significantly reduced in new contracts.

“I think we got into a situation where the bowls were largely dependent on the teams for ticket sales,” Waters said. “I think you’ve got to see bowls getting back in the business of selling the two conferences in their game and go back to the old way of really marketing it locally.”

Good luck with that, fellas.  The conferences and Mickey ain’t going for that anymore.

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

Wednesday morning buffet

As you’ll see, it’s never too early to assess the 2015 season.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, ESPN Is The Devil, It's Just Bidness, Political Wankery, Recruiting, The Body Is A Temple, The NCAA

“How do you turn over the rocks in the Southeastern Conference, for instance, while owning the SEC Network?”

Admittedly, that’s a good question asked by ESPN’s former ombudsman in his farewell column (and at least ESPN had the decency to publish it).  A better question, though, would be to ask why anyone would expect the WWL to do so.  You can tell even Lipsyte knows it’s something of a pipe dream.

ESPN’s primary job has always been, as Lipsyte describes it, “putting up those pretty pictures, buying rights, promoting games … selling the spectacular.” ESPN is relatively young and has grown quickly “without any kind of traditional journalism heritage,” Lipsyte says. It has used its considerable piles of money to “buy some really good journalists,” but the network, he believes, “is still trying to figure out how to use them properly.” He calls ESPN a vast empire, and points to the SEC Network as the most mind-blowing part of that empire. “Extensive investigative reporting into the exploitation of college athletes, and the legal battles around that, would seem to conflict with ESPN’s business model,” he writes in his final ombudsman column.

It’s not just that ESPN isn’t a traditional journalist.  Or even that it’s been far more invested in the entertainment side than the journalism side.  It’s that with these joint venture networks and outright ownership of bowl games, it’s now vertically integrated into the product it’s selling us.  And Business 101 tells you that you never crap on the product you’re pushing.  (A lesson it took baseball owners, for example, the better part of two decades to learn after the advent of free agency.)

For ESPN, real journalism is bad for business.  And that’s why you won’t see Mickey turning over any rocks.

(h/t James Joyner)

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Filed under ESPN Is The Devil

Emerging bowl season meme number one

Mr. Conventional Wisdom, as we all know, bows to no man in his love and admiration for all things SEC.  And, yes, he’s a little stung right now by his 12-0 prediction for the SEC’s bowl season.  So you can roll your eyes a bit as he’s working the “they’ll be back, baby!” angle hard already.

But he’s not quite as off the mark as the good folks at Eleven Warriors make him sound.  Listening to the bowl chatter yesterday, it’s clear that plenty of ESPN’s talking heads had no problem pimping the SEC’s admittedly bad New Year’s Day as a sign of serious decline.  Since it’s ESPN, it’s pretty clear why that was so:  it’s good for business.

Expect it to gain traction in the offseason.  The P5 conferences have every reason in the world to work the refs as long as there are more conferences than playoff slots and if ESPN is willing to do some of the heavy lifting, I doubt anyone will object.

Expect Nick Saban to have time for this shit, though.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, ESPN Is The Devil, SEC Football

Why the hostility, bro?

As Georgia was in the process of thoroughly emasculating Louisville, Spencer Hall, bless his heart, had the presence of mind to dredge up this Danny Kanell gem:

Not that Kanell was averse to weighing in with some more ass-showing smack last night.

I dunno, maybe he’s jockeying for the Holtz seat opposite Mark May when Lou fades into the sunset.

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Filed under ACC Football, ESPN Is The Devil