Monday, September 28, 2009

ESPN Forgets What Made Them

As mentioned in the Game Picks post, the Fan spent the weekend at a trade show. As such, there was no opportunity to watch the games either in baseball or football. After missing the games, the Fan was hoping to catch up on the action during Baseball Tonight and then the football pregame show that used to be so good every Sunday night. What a terrible disappointment.

Pure and simple, the Fan has had a very hectic, chaotic and busy summer. So there hasn't been much time to watch ESPN and their highlight shows. So it was an awful surprise to see how terrible these shows have become. They used to be so good too. They were the best and they radicalized sports news. The Baseball Tonight formula was to have a snappy announcer in Ravy and a couple of succinct and occasionally humorous color guys and tons of highlights and late breaking highlights of games still in progress. They still have the guys in place, but the show has become about them and not about the highlights. You may actually get a highlight once every ten minutes. The rest of the time they, "tawked, tawked, tawked."

Do the producers and the leaders of this network really think we tuned in all those years to hear those guys talking? Not at all. We tuned in to WATCH THE HIGHLIGHTS! The more the better. In the good old days, the highlights took up 80 percent of the show and the talking and special features took up 20%. Us business guys like the 80/20 rule. Now it's 35/65 with the 65 percent being talking and special features. It's terrible and frustrating and sad. We still have Ravy and Gammons and Kruk and Winfield is pretty good too. But they were our guides through what we were seeing, not the mess we have now.

The Football "highlight" show was even worse. Chris Berman was the host. Some love him. Some hate him. Count the Fan in the former column. And the show started out with the end of a game whose last play was a desperation lateral-happy fiasco. Berman did some of his patented sound affects and the Fan was smiling in recognition and good humor. Then the show went into the worst pits of hell possible. For the next 25 minutes (before the Fan just got disgusted and turned it off), three games were covered from the whole day. An average of two highlights of each of those games were shown. The rest of the time was four guys talking and talking and talking. Much of them saying the same thing the other guy said. When they hadn't said enough, they switched it to some other talking head in the studio who is all by himself and he talks some more, basically repeating what the other guys just said. Who is he? Why is he there? Never seen him before and he added NOTHING. Just more talk. And he had a really bad tie.

What happened? Where did they get lost? If we want analysis, we'll go to the blogs and to the major sports sites. THIS FAN WANTS H-I-G-H-L-I-G-H-T-S!!. The Fan wants video. The Fan wants to see the exciting plays. How did the game play out? Who made great plays? Why was the pitcher effective? Instead, we get endless blather about what happened, which is about as exciting as watching a United Nations session.

Bloody awful. How can something as successful as ESPN totally lose their way? How can they not understand what got them to be so successful in the first place? They made their money with their commentators commenting on the highlights. It was fast, it was hip, it was cool. Now it is monotonous to the max. When did they get the idea that watching evasive professionals during contrived press conferences is fun to watch? It's a shame because it was once the wonder of the television world.

What just occurred to this writer is that ESPN has gone the way of MTV. MTV was cool when it was all videos with just a few special events. It was about the music. Now it's one piece of schlock after another. Totally ruined. And ESPN has followed MTV right down the same rabbit hole.

1 comment:

Josh Borenstein said...

I think the MTV comparison is fair. I always get disgusted when ESPN doesn't show enough highlights or when the majority of the shows are spent on two or three games.