The 800 lb Gorilla

I read this article in the Sports Business Journal about how a PowerPoint done or at least support by other networks are taking shots at ESPN.

The long and the short of it is that ratings are down for leagues such the NBA, NFL, NASCAR and AFL (that’s Arena Football to you and me)

Their are other complaints come from ad buyers as well saying that ESPN is pushing a digital strategy and makes it hard for them to buy just one thing.

ESPN has fired back by saying in a sense "are you kidding me?" Networks that are pushing this powerpoint are dinosaurs and have no idea where this medium is or going. ESPN has made a powerpoint counter-point. x

The only two legitimate claims that other networks or sports leagues have about ESPN is 1) not covering sports that are not carried by the network and 2) not drawing the line well enough in the news vs. sports broadcaster arena.

The NHL for example pretty much got dumped by ESPN a few years ago. Now they are on VS and I would have to say that coverage of them on Sportscenter has fallen off dramatically.

Hell the MLS which is carried by the "family of networks" also has a hard time being covered. Last year during the Eastern Conference Finals the league commissioner Doug Garber threw down the gauntlet saying that Taylor Twellman’s game winning bicycle kick should be on Sportscenter ( He was on ESPN 2 at the time.)

The news vs. entertainment issue is always going to be sticky. The article says:

Leagues have been getting upset with the timing of some of ESPN’s investigative reports. The network ran several pieces on disabled retired football players at the start of the NFL season. It ran an exposé on alcoholism in baseball during the MLB playoffs.

I assume the leagues have a legit beef. On the other hand is that just good timing and promotion to capture the most amount of eyeballs?

I think that the article touches on a major point that could knock ESPN down to size…leagues staring their own networks. NFL network, NBA TV, etc. At some point I think that the leagues will just hit out on their own. The only reason they don’t right now is because there is too much money to lose by ditching those lucrative TV contracts.

It’s a decent article and if your in the industry it might be an interesting read.


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