Category Archives: ESPN Is The Devil

Today, in broadcasting

You may have heard ESPN has breathlessly released The Next Big Thing.

ESPN+ is the most aggressive step to date by ESPN to recapture the consumers that are dropping its channels along with the rest of their pay TV subscriptions.
For $4.99 a month, the new service will give users the kind of all-you-can-watch buffet they have enjoyed on Netflix and other streaming video platforms, but with live sporting events.

Pitaro previewed ESPN+ last week at the ESPN Technology Center, where visitors are greeted by a message on the wall that reads “Where Innovation Takes The Field.” The streaming service, a top priority at the facility over the last eight months, is kicking off what Pitaro called an “era of innovation” at the company.

ESPN+ subscribers will have on-demand access to thousands of live events, including Major League Baseball, NHL hockey, collegiate sports, Major League Soccer, boxing, PGA golf, Grand Slam tennis events and even cricket. It will also offer the entire library of ESPN’s critically acclaimed “30 for 30” sports documentaries and new exclusive original programming that includes a weekly basketball analysis show hosted by retired Los Angeles Laker great Kobe Bryant.

The programs and live events will have commercials…

Such a deal.  It’s really a balancing act for Mickey.

Pitaro, who became president of ESPN last month after the sudden resignation of John Skipper, is careful to emphasize that the new service is not a replacement for the cable and satellite subscriptions that still bring in about $8 billion annually.

“We are really doing this as a service that is complementary and additive and not competitive with the pay TV business,” he said. “What you see on linear [TV] will not make its way on the subscription service. And what’s on the subscription service will not be on television.”

Therein lies the balancing act that Pitaro has to perform with ESPN+. He needs to push ESPN further into the digital TV future while preserving the traditional cable and satellite model that continues to make a substantial profit, even though it eroded.

Good luck with that, fella, because it really seems like all the big monetization is coming up front.

The first result of the marriage of a tech startup and legacy content provider is a newly updated ESPN app and the ESPN+ subscription option, which arrived nearly two years after it was originally announced. Disney hopes that consumers will pay $4.99 a month, or $50 for a year, to access a long list of games and other content to which it has the rights but is not showing on the channels for which cable subscribers pay roughly $8 or $9 a month through their cable bills.

Many of those games were already available, however, as part of a digital channel known as ESPN3 that will live on, according to the company. ESPN has long had an app, called WatchESPN, that offered live streams of all of its channels as well as many ESPN3 games it was not airing on its TV stations. ESPN+ bundles many of those streams it offered to subscribers in WatchESPN with other previously free services and some niche sports and original programming for a fee, and offers that service in the same app as streaming versions of ESPN channels available only to cable subscribers.

”Those subscribers are already paying more than $100 a year for ESPN content,” BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield said in a telephone interview. “Now, they’re being asked to pay another $60 a year for the least compelling parts of that content.”

To reiterate, such a deal.

Meanwhile, Jim Delany’s gig running a broadcast network took a hit.

Unfortunately for Big Jim, Comcast doesn’t roll over like the Sun Belt Conference.

Comcast will drop the Big Ten Network from its cable television system in states where there are no teams in the conference.

The Big Ten Network will remain available on Comcast Xfinity in Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Virginia and Washington, D.C. Comcast is not available in Nebraska and Iowa.

Note that New York is missing there — the raison d’etre for adding a pathetic Rutgers athletic program to the conference in the first place.  Nice how that’s working out.  It’s also nice to see that the Big Ten apparently couldn’t care less about making sure folks in Nebraska and Iowa who are Comcast subscribers can get Comcast to watch their teams.  Jim probably thinks if those folks want it badly enough, they can just move to New Jersey.



Filed under Big Ten Football, ESPN Is The Devil

Why so mad, bro?

The Sporting News pitches five playoff scenarios for 2018 “sure to make everyone mad“.  Here’s number one:

Alabama vs. Georgia — again

The all-SEC championship title game between Alabama and Georgia drew a lot of criticism in 2017. Here’s the bad news. It could totally happen again. The Crimson Tide and Bulldogs will be heavy favorites to win their respective divisions, and the possibility for a No. 1-vs.-No. 2 showdown in Atlanta for the SEC championship exists.

What if both teams were 12-0 or 11-1 with the drop on the rest of the Playoff field? It’s entirely possible for both to get back in. After all, this was a scenario in 2017. Georgia and Alabama were ranked No. 1 and No. 2 the first two weeks of the CFP rankings before Auburn beat both in November. The Tigers must travel to Athens and Tuscaloosa this year, too. The all-SEC championship rematch is entirely possible.

Yes, if there’s nothing else that would enrage me, it’s the thought that the two best teams in the country face off for the national championship.  That would really chap my ass, not because I’m a Georgia fan, but as a college football fan who has this charmingly deluded notion that the point to the sport’s postseason should be to have the best face the best.  Get real.

Here’s what would really happen if that matchup came to be:  the national media, goaded by ESPN, would do its collective best to stir up a feeding frenzy; those jonesing for an eight-team playoff, goaded by ESPN, would seize upon this as the lever needed to move the discussion to a more imperative level;  Bill Hancock, goaded by ESPN, would blink his eyes at the media while solemnly insisting that expansion was not in the works; the national media, goaded by ESPN, would parse the television viewership numbers searching for proof that public interest in the CFP was on the verge of waning, etc.  Sensing a pattern there?

Mad?  Nah.  More like calculating.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs, ESPN Is The Devil

ESPN’s stats never sleep.

Welp, the first edition of 2018’s Football Power Index is out and Georgia is ranked third, behind Clemson and Alabama.

Interestingly enough, while Alabama is ranked ahead in the FPI, the Dawgs are actually given a better chance of winning the SEC.  (Again!)

Alabama might be the reigning champs, but Georgia is the favorite to win the SEC. The Bulldogs have a 42 percent chance to repeat as the conference champions, edging Alabama (37 percent) and Auburn (11 percent).

FPI actually believes the Crimson Tide are the second-best team in the nation, just ahead of third-best Georgia, but because Alabama is in the SEC West and therefore has a more difficult conference schedule, the conference title odds swing toward Georgia.

FPI favors Georgia in every game on the 2018 schedule.  The closest call is against Auburn, which also happens to be the only team Georgia plays ranked in the top twenty of this edition of FPI.  Georgia does play five teams ranked between 20 and 30, though, and the overall strength of schedule is ranked a credible, if not super challenging, 43.


Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

Fun with Nick

I can’t wait to hear what PAWWWLLL!!! and Heather have to say about Alabama’s 2019 non-conference schedule.  It’s a real challenge.


Filed under Alabama, ESPN Is The Devil

(1) Clemson 28, (1) Georgia 27

I’m sure ESPN desperately hopes there’s an audience for this garbage.

Maybe they can petition the South Carolina legislature to issue “Clemson, National Champions” license plates to honor the big win.  Hey, it worked for UCF!


Filed under BCS/Playoffs, ESPN Is The Devil

Your G-Day broadcast crew

No Herbstreit (which I assume means he’ll be in Tuscaloosa).

Man, I like Blackledge.  Sure is gonna be awkward hearing him try to make the case for a quarterback controversy.


Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, Georgia Football

Heather’s hammer

Heather Dinich said it on Finebaum’s show.  Now she’s posting it at ESPN:  Georgia, you’re on notice.

1. Can Georgia overcome a weak nonconference schedule?

Austin Peay, Middle Tennessee, UMass and Georgia Tech — four teams that combined for a 24-24 record last year (including the 8-4 record from FCS Austin Peay) — give the Dawgs little to no wiggle room. Georgia Tech is the only Power 5 nonconference opponent, and the Yellow Jackets finished 5-6 last year.

The importance of strength of schedule is not up for debate within the selection committee meeting room. Alabama earned a spot in the top four last year, but in the committee’s lengthy final deliberations, its game against FCS Mercer was certainly a part of the debate against Ohio State for the fourth spot.

“If you want to be considered for a spot in the college football championship, you need to go out and schedule up,” former selection committee member Tom Jernstedt. “When the bracket is so small, there aren’t many things you can use to separate Team A from Team B, C and D, and someone that can demonstrate that they went out and made a real effort to schedule up, that’s important. If you schedule down and end up undefeated, that should not be rewarded for scheduling down. You constantly encourage people to schedule up so the committee really has something to work with as it goes through its deliberations.”

Georgia faces Florida, a road trip to LSU, and gets Auburn at home. One loss would put it in a precarious playoff position. In 2016, Washington was hammered for its strength of schedule all season. Last year, Wisconsin’s résumé was under the microscope. Now it’s Georgia’s turn.

Again, as someone who thinks our home schedule blows, I’d like to be more sympathetic.  But her case would be more honest with the inclusion of the SECCG, as well as noting that ‘Bama has a similar scheduling weakness.  In the meantime, she’s got a hammer, if anyone needs one.


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