I’m not sure why but ESPN seems to want to be more entertainment, less sports. To put it in perspective, you remember that channel that introduced us to new music and the videos that corresponded with them? The station that was all music 24/7 and wouldn’t apologize for it? The same channel that now has shows about teen pregnancy and how cool it is? Yeah, something like that.
Upon a quick walk through the lunch room, at my currently place of employment, I was stopped in my tracks by a feature ESPN was running. There he was in all of his glory, ex Jets couch, Herm Edwards ranting and raving and giving a “pep-talk” to his former team. This feature was on the famed show “Sportscenter” which has become more of a circus of touting talent than it has been of updates around the various professional leagues and breaking news.
I feel somewhat robbed of my youth.
Daily I would plop down on the couch to watch Sportcenter’s comedic approach to sports, all the while keeping a very high-brow sentimentality that made sure to let all viewers know they were serious about the content they were providing. Highlight after highlight my fandom grew deeper and deeper. I learned the art of sports, the names of players and carried a profound curiosity of how someone became a champion of log tossing, it was marvelous. With my eyes wide I took it all in, even if I watched the same episode on repeat from 6am – 3pm.
But now something has changed.
It’s no secret that of recent years advertisers have driven the content on television and, although I am a fan of the craft of advertising, it’s flat out wrong. CFOs and CMOs with their heavy research statistics proving that males ages 15-32 with an interest in attracting companionship through the use of body spray would rather watch a segment about football 3% more than the average 15-32 year old means that now we get to watch Herm Edwards speak to an empty locker room during baseball season.
I don’t get it. What happened to our highlights?
Now we get insight from ex-players speaking about what goes on in the locker room and then get a 30-second snippet of a 12 inning game where the lead changed hands 7 times, which, to most, means it was a game of epic proportion. To over-exaggerate the point, Matt Cain may get 40-seconds in which they discuss his perfect game but then ESPN needs to remind you that they love football, in June. Let’s have the guys from Sunday Gameday speak about turf toe and how it can impact the free-agency market this summer, this is brilliant.
Allowing advertisers to choose what you run is turning your back on your core audience. By neglecting the core, those who built you up to the media titan you have become, they slowly start to look for other sources for their information, which is out there, I assure you of that. ESPN give us the Sportscenter we want and not the one that gets you a few more dollars. We, the greatest fan base out there, want you to survive forever and not just for another 10 years because now the ad dollars are shifting to early adapters who are finding their sports information on whatever the flavor of the month is.
This is my plea, stop with the segments that are saturating your show to promote the other shows your station features. We know they are out there. Sportscenter was never a mechanism for promoting your own agenda, it was a quick and efficient way for sports fans to catch up on what happened the night before, ESPN 2 was always the channel that provided the content. Please stop focusing 75% of your shows during baseball season to the NFL and that Roger Goodell had a twitter conversation with TO about where they can discuss his unfair treatment on the free agency market. Mention it and move on, we don’t need to hear from Mort and Adam every time someone takes a shit and hurts their back.
ESPN, as a fan and a supporter, I love you. You have made me a sports fan and I am extremely loyal. My loyalties are being stretched, however, and I have found myself watching “The Chew” during my lunch breaks instead of watching Sportscenter. Give us highlights and smart, witty commentary and please, please, please don’t shoot over to Ed Werder because your newest host can’t do a proper lead in to the next game, that guy needs a vacation.