ESPN To Unveil Its Own Walk Of Fame In Bristol

Big news today, as ESPN announces that as part of its 30th anniversary, it will honor long-time employees with a Walk of Fame at their Bristol campus. Just slightly less prestigious than the one in Hollywood, this Walk of Fame will feature a freshman class of 43 staffers, all of whom have been with the network since its first year. Except for that poor guy who Berman screamed at that time; he’s living in the jungle in the Philippines.

We wonder, will new ESPN employees be hazed for stepping on Bob Ley’s star? Who will clean the spit and vegetable matter from Dick Vitale’s? And what other commemorative attraction ideas were considered before the Walk of Fame was approved? Top rejected ESPN 30th anniversary ideas: Read more…

Mystery Solved: Why ESPN Really Ditched Twitter

Eight days ago, I predicted that pro athletes would soon be banned from taking part in Twitter. And thanks to more than one Twitter-related reprimand during the first week of NFL training camp, some sort of formal embargo appears to be right around the corner.

George Bodenheimer - The Man Who Killed Twitter At ESPN

(’Guys, would you be cool with putting a washing machine on the desk?’)

But the draconian policy ESPN recently dropped on its staff, forbidding them all from Tweeting anything sports-related, surprised even the cynic in me.

But then I remembered 1998.

It was in 1998 that George Bodenheimer, a career ESPN ad sales guy, began overseeing all  programming at Bristol. Not coincidentally, Disney gave Bodenheimer the reins after Fox Sports launched a rival national sports network that same year - the first (and only) true competition ever lodged against ESPN.

Previously, ESPN had exploded in popularity under the guidance of Steve Bornstein, whose background was in programming. So why did Bodenheimer suddenly take over from Bornstein, who to that point had steered ESPN to wild success? Disney saw that Fox Sports Net was coming after ESPN’s advertisers, and wanted to have a salesman running the entire operation in order to best protect profits.

If you’ve ever worked in media, you know of the eternal battle between sales and programming. Sales wants to dumb down content to make it a more palatable commodity for advertisers, while programming wants to produce provocative content that will draw viewers/listeners/readers. I worked at innumerable radio and TV stations doing sports over 16 years, and I saw this fight play out at every single one of my stops.

So what does that all have to do with Twitter? A whole lot. Read more…

Real Power In College Sports? It’s Not With NCAA

Quick qualifier before we get started here: let’s be clear that we’re talking about Myles Brand professionally and not personally. He is, lest you forget, struggling with pancreatic cancer, which is ferociously deadly. We can disagree with his decisions while still empathizing with him and his family during an unimaginably difficult time.

George Bodenheimer
(The man in charge. Hey wait a second, that’s not Myles…)

With that out of the way, it’s safe to say that the NCAA is barely in control of itself anymore. Oh, sure, they can hand out probations and declare ineligibilities and craft arcane and confusing rules, but this is all amateur-status enforcement; the direction of big-money college athletics comes from outside, not from within.

Read more…

Monopoly Alert: ESPN Now Wants March Madness

It’s probably not the biggest shock in the world, but ESPN really wants the NCAA men’s basketball tournament rights. You can’t blame them; it’s one of the most-watched TV spectacles every year, it stretches across three weeks and draws viewers & advertisers like nothing else outside of the Super Bowl. Still, CBS has owned the rights to the annual hoops escapade for so long that it’s hard to imagine a cable network breaking in to steal it away.

espn headquarters

(And the 2018 Final Four goes to, drum roll please … Bristol, CT!)

Well, prepare yourself folks. ESPN is going to to get it at some point, at least if ESPN President George Bodenheimer has anything to do with it. When asked by COLLEGE HOOPS JOURNAL whether or not his network would get back to covering the tournament, Bodenheimer’s answer was pretty unequivocal: “We would love to get back into the men’s tournament.”

Read more…

Did ESPN McCain Supporter Spike Obama Visits?

Rush & Molloy of the NEW YORK DAILY NEWS report that a Friday ESPN podcast appearance by Barry Obama with Bill Simmons has been spiked by the Bristol suits.

Barry Obama Bling Bling

(Maybe it was Barry’s Bling Bling?)

R & M also report that an earlier scheduled visit between Barry and Stu Scott was also scuttled.

With Obama’s “white” hoops background, and his current, undeniable nationwide appeal, the decision seems to defy logic. Except of course, if you’re ESPN president George Bodenheimer. Read more…

ESPN Creates ScoreCenter Which Will Not Track Berman’s Bar Exploits

IT APPARENTLY WAS NOT NAMED AFTER BERMAN’S OFFICE: In the tradition of ESPN Mobile, “Who’s Now?” and the “Budweiser Hot Seat”, ESPN has yet another sports media innovation in the pipeline that will keep us infinitely entertained: “ScoreCenter”.

ScoreCenter

The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER informs us that next year ESPN will launch ScoreCenter.com, “which eventually will provide live scores for 23 sports in 180 countries.”ESPN President George Bodenheimerthe goal is to provide live scoring from every significant sport on Earth (and) encompass six languages and have country-specific content and advertising.

The site will be managed by ESPN units in Bristol, Connecticut, N.Y., London and Bangalore, India.

Bangalore? Thank god the Outback kid got out when he did.