NYTIMES on ESPN and College Football

Submitted by Farnn on August 26th, 2013 at 8:39 PM

Fantastic article by the NYT on the influence ESPN has had on college football.  The same thing would probably have happened without ESPN when someone realized how much money could be made from CFB, but the article doesn't make ESPN look good.



August 26th, 2013 at 8:45 PM ^

the BTN's decision to partner with Fox as opposed to ESPN have, given this article? My guess is that the B1G was paid more, but has less exposure with Fox.

NOLA Wolverine

August 26th, 2013 at 8:51 PM ^

I would agree that the article's author tried to write it in a way that did not make ESPN look good, but I don't think anything all that moving was "uncovered" there.  


August 26th, 2013 at 8:56 PM ^

FIrst, Farnn, apologies for removing the WolverineNation thread, but I was hoping you would start another one with this article because I did read it and thought it was fairly interesting.

The portion about Boise State and ESPN creating a brand, if you will, underscores just how much influence ESPN really has, I think, and how much the money preys on the mind of schools and conferences. They basically took a school that few were even barely aware of and helped pave a road that turned them into a school that everyone talks about, sort of a Division I "noveau riche", if you will. It seems to follow that BSU's sudden prominence probably did drive them away from the WAC, and I am guessing the WAC - what remains of it - doesn't necessarily want to be out of the Division I football picture.


August 26th, 2013 at 9:05 PM ^

No problem.  I had actually forgotten about the previous thread, three days is a ton of forum posts ago.  Yea, the Boise stuff is kid of chilling.  They also have another article on Loiusville's rise to prominence using ESPN exposure and money that's a good read.  ESPN can't like the heat they are taking lately for their conflicts of interest.



August 27th, 2013 at 8:56 AM ^

ESPN has done the same thing in CBB with Gonzaga as they have done with Boise in football.  Gonzaga gets a lot of late games on the network and a ton of hype as well.  Gonzaga is a perennial top-20 program that is probably moving closer to top-10 when conventional wisdom would dictate that a program in the WCC would have no chance at their type of success.


August 26th, 2013 at 9:04 PM ^

Espn took TomVH from us and then shut down the site so he could cover the Big Ten. This article only reaffirms the fact of how fucking depraved those highlight pimping bastards are. They can stick Around the horn/ all other debate shows and their gigantic magazine up Chris Berman's ass. I feel better now.

Canada loves S…

August 26th, 2013 at 10:30 PM ^

Paying for faculty raises! To me, that was fascinating. How do we make that happen here? I'm thinking that our athletic dept has a lot more cash than Louisville. Let's start with say15% raises. Don't want to be greedy!


August 27th, 2013 at 8:18 AM ^

Also interesting is ESPN's role in hyping the Manziel autographs story. Highly problematic. Not to mention their recent backing out of their partnership with Frontline for the upcoming NFL concussions documentary.

The Worldwide Leader is at a crossroads, and may not even be aware of it. They're facing actual competition on the national level for the first time -- FS1 certainly, and perhaps also NBCSN and CBSSN. NBC made a good move getting the Premier League. Especially in the age of the DVR. I sat down and watched Chelsea v. MU last night.


August 27th, 2013 at 9:49 AM ^

I don't think it will come from other networks prying programming rights away from ESPN, it will be from unbundling of cable channels.  People who don't watch sports are getting tired of paying $5+ a month to ESPN.  If people can decide not to get ESPN, they will have to raise their prices to keep revenue up which may drive away more people.  I wonder what the market will be for $15 a month ESPN.  And ESPN will have a lot of huge contracts they have to pay out over the next 10 years so I'm sure they are watching the bundling issue closely.


August 27th, 2013 at 10:08 AM ^

I think the more likely scenario than unbundling is that some cable company decides to be the cable-company-for-people-who-don't-watch-sports and offers everything but sports for a much lower cost.  It would be really interesting to the extent to which something like that caught on (or not).


August 27th, 2013 at 11:08 AM ^

It's fashionable to bash ESPN, but I gotta be honest - it was the best thing that ever happened to me as a die-hard college football fan.

This is what my college football day (singular) was like in the '80's:  

- The only real preview show was Danny Sheridan on CNN for only like a half hour in the morning.  It was more of a show for gamblers.   He picked the winners from a displayed list of matchups and . . . and that was about it.  Not even much game highlight footage.

- There were actually ESPN games you could watch at noon if there was nothing of interest on the couple of games shown by ABC or CBS.  The ESPN noon games were of the Ivy league.  

- There was seldom a night game.  When the games ended in the afternoon, it was all over until next week.  You could watch the same 15 minutes of Sports Center CFB highlights over and over, mixed in with all the other sports going on, if you wanted. 

- On Sunday, you could read a paragraph about your big win or loss in the sports page.  See you next week.


Enter ESPN's influence, direct and indirect:

- There are now as many games on TV on a regular Saturday as there used to be on New Year's day.  New Year's day used to be considered an orgy of college football.  Now there are actually less games on NYD than a regular saturday.

- A typical Saturday starts at 9:00 EST with Game Day "pre-game" on ESPNU and ends after 1:00 AM with a west coast night game.  

- Duiring that time, you can watch games from all the conferences, take a peek at "look-in" coverage of key game moments throughout the country, watch endless and various near-real time highlights of what is happening during the day, and tune in to watch analysis/discussion at several key points during the day about how the day's events impact the overall picture.

- If Saturday does not get you divorced / fired / fat / lazy, you can do much of the same Tuesday through Friday . . . too much even for me.

- A team like Michigan is on every week.  Every week.  Even for games like Akron.  I used to have to listen to games against the likes of Penn State, Washington (when they were good), and Michigan State on the radio because they were not considered worthy enough in my area to be on TV.

- ESPN Game Day brings it all together.  I really like ESPN Game Day despite the bufoonery.  It turns the whole day into a single unified CFB event.  They got smart when the brought it out to the college campuses and broadcast from there all day long.  It's my tribal campfire.

Is ESPN now too big for its britches?  Of course.  They have crossed over the line from showing what's going on to pushing an agenda.  When the Texas A&M AD says “If we were in the Big 12 (ed: instead of ESPN's own SEC) , I don’t know that Johnny Manziel would have won the Heisman”, that's shocking.  Because it's true.

Hopefully some competition will come along, like Fox Sports 1, and make them more honest.  But I doubt it.  Instead I think we will just get the equivalent of Fox News and MSNBC with each side pushing its own agenda. 

But it does not matter to me.  I am so much better off that I used to be pre-ESPN. 




August 27th, 2013 at 3:13 PM ^

More people are turning away from cable and simply getting their fill of TV programming from online streaming. 

Of course, ESPN has a built-in market within a market, not only general home consumers but a commercial market as well from bars, hotels and other revenue producing sources outside the traditonal network TV revenue model from on air adverstising. All of its competitors are late to the cable party and their online presence isn't as dynmanic as ESPN's wall-to-wall coverage, which already has hastened the day when it go more mainstream with online streaming and still make money from subscription fees. Because you still have to pay your local cable provider for internet service.

The fact that ESPN has expanded its coverage into every nook and corner of the sports marketplace, means that it had to ramp up ways to create new markets and interest, which meant that it had to play both sides against the middle: i.e. create investigative units that look into the seamier side of sports while then promoting the same athletes, coaches and programs it investigates. Its coverage expands to feed audience and market share based on market requirements and bottom line needs. But it always has an edge because it's business is subscription based. Residual monthly payments regardless of content provided. But more is more. 

Newspapers used to operate like ESPN. But ESPN helped put newspapers and traditional sports news coverage out of business. Now the internet threatens cable news business in the same way as the news cycle shrinks and audience share gets measured in cost per action and clicks rather than overnight ratings and share points. 

ESPN is a completely integrated conglomerate. We used to have laws on the books that prevented that, but they set up their business with distributors whose own business are ulitimate monopolies, whose contracts with municipalities and cities ensure their future until the market changes the big picture. And ESPN has already planned for that.