Category Archives: ESPN Is The Devil

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

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.

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Filed under College Football, ESPN Is The Devil