Category Archives: ESPN Is The Devil

Wednesday morning buffet

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

65 Comments

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)

33 Comments

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.

36 Comments

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.

29 Comments

Filed under ACC Football, ESPN Is The Devil

It’s clock cocking time again.

Here’s something the Wiz of Odds posted a few years ago in the wake of 2008’s new clock rules…

… Given the lack of protest from the rest of the coaching fraternity, there is a strong possibility that the 40/25 rules could be here to stay. That would swing open the doors for more commercialization and the likelihood that in two or three years the length of games will once again be pushing the 3:20 mark.

Take notice of what’s happening. Long commercial breaks often suck the energy out of the stadium. For fans sitting at home, commercials are now being inserted after kickoffs, following the NFL blueprint.

And something I wrote in response to another post of his:

Subjectively speaking, it strikes me that coaches seem to be able to affect the pace of the game more than before, particularly in terms of how the 40-second clock is utilized.

Well, guess what?  It sounds like it’s time to take another look at the clock rules.

All that scoring caused this season’s average length of game to hit 3 hours, 23 minutes in late November, according to the NCAA. That was up from 3:17 last season. Games are, on average, 14 minutes longer than in 2008. By comparison, this season’s NFL average is 3:07.

“I think it’s trending in the wrong direction, and it is a concern,” American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco said.

Administrators are wary of turning off fans, especially young ones who crave faster action and represent future ticket buyers. They also are mindful of the risk of injury to fatigued players who are on the field longer and for more plays.

The NCAA Football Rules Committee expects to discuss the issue when it meets in February, secretary-rules editor Rogers Redding said.

“The 14-minute increase has been gradual” since 2008, he wrote in an email to The Associated Press, “but the cumulative effect has generated some concern among some stakeholders so that it is probably something that the committee will want to take a look at.”

Turning off fans?  Increased injury risk?  Nice concerns, y’all, but there are so many other things happening in college football that undercut both, you’ll have to excuse me if I’m not buying your crocodile tears act.  This, though?

Mid-American Conference commissioner Jon Steinbrecher, who chairs the College Football Officiating Board of Managers, said it’s imperative to keep the average game under 3:30. That figure coincides with the typical window TV networks allot for a game.

“A shorter game is better than a longer game. That’s painting with a broad brush,” Steinbrecher said. “If a game is exciting, I suppose it doesn’t matter how long it takes. We ought to probably be in that 3:15 to 3:20 range.”

Yeah, that’s gonna be a problem.

You know, I kid about Jim Delany being more a director of broadcast programming than a conference commissioner.  Maybe college football ought to eliminate the middleman and pick somebody from ESPN to become the first college football commissioner.  At least it would all be out in the open.  And maybe they’d quit blaming us for their problems.

Though college football attendance remains robust, administrators are always looking for ways to draw fans away from their high-definition TVs at home and to the stadium. Once there, they need to be entertained when the game is in a lull.

Some schools have hired “fan experience” directors to keep game day fun. Wifi has been enhanced at stadiums, and bigger-than-ever video boards have been installed. Still, many schools are seeing declines in student ticket sales. Those students represent the future fan base.

“People want the experience,” said Jim Kahler, executive director of Ohio University’s Center for Sports Administration, “but they want it convenient and they want it fast.”

Just go ahead and shoot me.

23 Comments

Filed under College Football, ESPN Is The Devil

“I don’t think it’s totally crazy.”

Take as a starting premise that there are more bowl games than ever because we like to watch, not because we show up.  Add to that the profitability that comes from ESPN owning or controlling many bowl games outright.

If not for ESPN, many of these games might not exist. ESPN Events, a subsidiary of ESPN, owns and operates 11 bowl games, including two new ones this year.

All but one of the 39 postseason games this season will be broadcast by ESPN or ABC networks, both owned by The Walt Disney Co.

By owning the games, Charlotte-based ESPN Events can sell tickets and sponsorships to the games and not have to pay an unaffiliated company for TV broadcast rights. It’s an investment that usually pays off with a big live TV audience attractive to sponsors.

“We’ve built a very viable business that we’re really pleased with,” said Pete Derzis, senior vice president and general manager of ESPN Events…

“They (ESPN) need live content, even mediocre live content,” Maestas told USA TODAY Sports. “Even 400,000 viewers in a sad bowl with 25,000 people in the stands is getting better (viewership) than 100 channels out there.”

Shake gently and voilà!

Sometime in the next several years, the powerful overlords of college football finally might decide they’ve seen enough.

To heck with ticket sales, they might say. Instead of struggling to draw crowds to stadiums, why not just stage some of their postseason bowl games in mammoth television studios?

Even a live studio audience would be optional. All they’d really need is a network to televise the games and sponsors to buy in.

Your idea of who “the powerful overlords of college football” are and USA Today’s may vary.  Here’s where I put my money:

“Fans are voting with their remotes and with their eyeballs,” said Ilan Ben-Hanan, ESPN’s vice president for programming and acquisitions. “I take issue with the notion of judging what’s a good idea based on how many people are in the stands. There are a lot of sports out there that would kill to have tens of thousands of people in the stands.”

It’s the coming reality.

… The average attendance for bowl games has declined each of the past six seasons, down to 49,116 last season, the lowest mark since 1978-79, when there were 15 bowls, according to the NCAA bowl record book.

At the same time, ticket sales generally have decreased in importance for bowl revenues. They accounted for $150 million – about 33% — of the $445 million in total gross receipts for all bowl games in 2012-13, according to the most recent available data on gross bowl receipts obtained by USA TODAY Sports. That percentage had decreased every year since 2008-09, when ticket sales comprised nearly 38% of all bowl revenue.

Television and media revenue, sponsorships and other sources make up the rest.

“More money in sports is starting to come from TV than from tickets,” Maestas said. “There was a day when the only thing that justified the game going on was ticket sales, because there was no TV. We are heading to the day when it’s possible to put on a college football event with no fans.”

Boy, that’s some progress you’ve got there, college football.

23 Comments

Filed under College Football, ESPN Is The Devil

Christmas bull

For some inexplicable reason, on Christmas day, the Longhorn Network will devote five commercial-free hours to a broadcast of Bevo meandering around his ranch.

Though I’d rather watch that than five hours of The Paul Finebaum Show.

32 Comments

Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, Texas Is Just Better Than You Are.