While most media companies' efforts to cover the Boston Marathon bombing have been overshadowed with mistakes and missteps, two media companies have stood out to me in the limited coverage I have consumed.
The first being ESPN, where Jeremy Schaap and Bob Ley outclassed the cable news networks and earned a lot of praise from our followers.
The second is a bit of surprise in Deadspin. Yes, Deadspin of Brett Favre penis sexting and Drew Magary poop stories and Lennay Kekua fame. While they've had almost a dozen of pieces that were helpful in terms of staying up to speed on the happenings in Boston, I particularly found this video extremely enjoyable and impressive. Impressive because you could EASILY mistake it for something you saw on The Daily Show or Colbert Report, perhaps a whole day later. Meanwhile, that feisty little web outfit had yet another viral piece of video that was produced and promoted very quickly.
A rather peculiar question then popped into my head: Could/should Deadspin have it's own television show?
There are a dozen tangent questions that immediately follow that thought. What would it be? What network? Who would be on it? Could they swear? How frequent would the show be?
Before sinking our teeth into all of those pressing questions, let's backtrack a bit and acknowledge 2 things.
1- Television is a hits driven business. All the money is made in the few hits that a network can procure and develop. This is where ESPN has a huge advantage with multiple brand names of original programming. Meanwhile FS1, NBC Sports Network, and CBS Sports Network have long roads in front of them there. Showtime and HBO also dabble on this front as well.
2- The concept of a web outfit producing television is nothing new. Vice just debuted on HBO, TMZ has had some crap on for years, the Onion had a show on Comedy Central that was sports focused, and Funny or Die as well as College Humor have forayed onto television as well. My former employer, Yardbarker, had a segment on Fanarchy which was on Versus and meanwhile SB Nation and Bleacher Report scaled up video production after getting $5 million advances from Youtube. While some compelling video has been made on that front, the word on the street is that neither company saw much of a business there. You wonder if they were given television distribution/promotion, whether that would change their outlook on producing original video.
Enter Deadspin, currently reaching about 5 million people a month with 35% of their audience deemed to be highly engaged as seen in the chart below from Quantcast.
That's about 1.5 million people classified as regulars or addicts. That's not too bad of a base to enter television with, in addition to whatever lead in programming audience a network might provide.
With that in mind, the major questions are as follows:
- How much money could Deadspin make off of such a venture / would it be worth their time?
- What network could they partner with and what limitations would be put on them?
- What the hell would the show be and how often?
Tough questions indeed.
The main thing is that more than any other major web brand that I am familiar with, Deadspin has defined its content voice, perspective of the world, and irreverency. Everything about it stands out and it makes it's readers stand with them with passion.
They're the cool smart kids that are too lazy to take AP classes making wise cracks during a terrible school assembly. They're the guys with a flask and a joint at a dry wedding, pehaps even a funeral. They are unwavering in their criticisms, unbeholden to the red tape and conventions of a major media company, and audacious (in a good way) in what they cover, how they cover it, and the voice (usually snarky) in which they frame a story to their audience.
But can all of what makes Deadspin great, translate to television?
Sure it can.
Between the surge of investigative reporting they do, a Daily Show/ The Soup esque recap of more mainstream shows, utilizing the best commentary on Twitter, and well founded commentary in underreported topics and stories, Deadspin has a variety of ways to fill a weekly show.
Upon tweeting the idea, the majority of feedback I got was that in all likelihood it would have to be a subscription network or at least free from the oversight of one of the major sports television brands. I'd say, that makes the most sense as swearing and the ability to crap on Joe Buck or Bob Costas or whomever without fear would be optimal.
That said there are a lot of shows on television that poke fun of their corporate overlords and bleeping swear words is always kind of fun.
Obviously it would be a BIG roll of the dice for a network and a big leap of faith for Deadspin as well. Regardless of the risk though, media companies are becoming more and more inept at reaching the core 18-34 male market they covet and original programming efforts are becoming more and more of a Hail Mary pass.
Deadspin provides a built in audience, defined voice, and a certain amount of street cred to viewers. Media executives are out of touch and racking their brains for a refreshing new voice to boost ratings. If you look at Comedy Central's rise, you'll notice that The Daily Show, Chapelle Show, and South Park all ruffled a lot of feathers as well with two of them being mainstays not only for Comedy Central but for American pop culture in general.
In a nutshell, the idea is feasible...... very feasible. It requires the folks at Deadspin to be interested in such a venture and have a vision of what it would be in addition to a network that isn't easily offended and when offended, would bite their tongues.
The likelihood of something like this coming together is very low, but after a certain amount of original programming duds you never know if someone opts to go down this path instead.
If Joe Buck and Tim McCarver both have had shows, then why not Deadspin?
I'm not sure media companies are losing track of how to reach the male 18-34 market, so much as the linear television channel itself is becoming obsolete except for live events, and they don't completely grasp the implications of that. I bet they had plenty of programs that appealed to that market but they all got DVR'd, commercial-skipped, and flopped, so what's left gives media executives a rather incoherent picture of what that demo really wants.
@awfulannouncing Fox Sports 1 needs to get on this idea quickly. Could be a weapon to battle ESPN.
@awfulannouncing Maybe pre-bleacher reported DS, but currently? Pee-yew.
@awfulannouncing not crazy just bad.
ESPN's coverage was much better then CNN's. The "wheels" started coming off the track with Jeremy Schaap solo, but as soon as the " consummate pro" Bob Ley got in the studio thier coverage was outstanding.
Most of the examples you gave of web outfits doing television have been pretty big failures. Fanarchy might have been the worst thing I've seen on a non TruTV/Spike male focused channel.
Would have to be HBO or Showtime. Maybe comedy central but I doubt it.
Schaap and Ley were fantastic. They asked the right questions, made insightful comments and projected an air of calm. I really do blast ESPN a lot, but they made the right choice to have them reporting. I could just see the honchos at the network pulling the other "talent" aside and telling them when they were on the air that they couldn't use stupid phrases or talk about the impact of the bombings on the NBA playoffs. It would have meant silent hosts. Again, great job, Jeremy and Bob.