We all know how this went the last time they promised a streamlined focus on the Football part of Monday Night Football, and now ESPN is promising so much more! According to an interview, ESPN's VP of Content John Skipper, conducted with Mediaweek, they're going to focus on "live events"....
“We have found that what sports fans really care about, and why they come to ESPN properties is to watch live games,” said Skipper, the company’s vp of content. ESPN’s Sept. 16 Monday Night Football telecast drew 18.6 million viewers, the largest cable audience ever.Well, hey now! Who would have ever thought that people watched a "Sports Network....for actual Sports?!?!?! In all seriousness, in the almost three years I've worked on this site, ESPN started to take a few positive steps forward, and then they'd take one giant leap back. While the above approach is obviously the correct one to take (and may I add....the obvious one), I just don't see it happening. Even though ESPN has made some good programming decisions and hires over the past few years, they still find it tough to get away from the yelling and random panel programs like First Take and Around the Horn.
Skipper said he will continue to pursue deals for more major college games, and will look to get additional rights to major professional tennis and golf events when they become available. Reclaiming the National Hockey League is also on his to-do list. The NHL is slated to run on Versus through the 2010-2011 season.
Skipper’s philosophy is a considerable departure from predecessor Mark Shapiro, who he succeeded in 2005. Shapiro started ESPN Original Entertainment in 2001, a unit that produced original series and movies for the network. “We are no longer in the movie business for television,” Skipper said. “We can make 10 documentaries for the same $5 million it would cost us to make one movie.”
Skipper said he wants to run more live sports on ESPN and ESPN2, and stream much of that via the Web and mobile. The network’s large number of SportsCenters, along with shows like College Game Day, will cover those live events and offer news and perspective, along with some investigative reporting.
I'm with them in theory, but until they start cutting some of the fat (ahem*Skip Bayless*ahem)....no one is really going to really care about Hockey coming back or the network acquiring the rights to the Olympics. People are obviously going to watch the games because they love Sports, but we'll continue to be unhappy with instigators, bias and hyperbole.
Skipper: Entire ESPN Franchise to Key on Live Telecasts (Mediaweek)