Dan Patrick: Star Witness In Upcoming ESPN Book

The co-author of a much-anticipated book about ESPN, Jim Miller, linked this photo to his Twitter account recently and called it the book’s working cover.:

ESPN Book Cover

Reading about the documentation of the manufacturing of a sports media monolith isn’t my cup of tea. That is, unless Dan Patrick is around to talk freely about his experience at ESPN, which he did for the book. (Not a coincidence he’s top left in the photo.)

Just this week the former SportsCenter anchor’s candor when it comes to his career at ESPN - and his untimely departure - was on display in a profile on the rise of his daily Direct TV show and during the show itself.

Speaking to Eric Deggans of Indiana University’s National Sports Journalism Center, Patrick offered the following appetizers:

On October 25, Patrick’s show will become available on 25 more regional sports networks owned by Fox Sports, Comcast and MSG – a deal that marks the first time DirecTV has sold one of its original shows into the syndication.

And if this latest move with The Dan Patrick Show works out, he expects it won’t be long before he’s dealing with The Mothership once again. If you have a concept, they will eventually swallow it up and make it theirs,” he said. “I guess you’re supposed to take that as a compliment; ‘Wow ESPN stole your idea.’ I’ve already heard from some of their talent who are curious about how I pulled this off. I think they hope I succeed so they’ll have a place to land, too.”

Patrick hinted that his departure was at least partly due to his unwillingness to cede the uniqueness of his personality to ESPN’s fastidious, branding overlords:

While some at ESPN may act as if they supported the franchise which eventually helped define the network from Day One, Patrick remembers it differently. He talked of being reprimanded for acting on air as if they were bigger than the network, warned to stop calling their program “The Big Show” and instead remind viewers “This is SportsCenter.”

(They wound up saying the phrase in such a sarcastically overblown way, it became a catchphrase in ways the executives hardly intended.)

“I remember walking out of that meeting saying ‘I’ve got three kids; I can’t get fired,’” Patrick said. “Olbermann looked over and said ‘F— ‘em.’ He gave me the guts to let me be who I was. And it should have been embraced a lot more than it was.”

So in 2007, Patrick decided to close the book on 18 years in Bristol, Conn., and move on, building a new show that broadcasts in a studio one mile from his house and allows him to be at home for dinner almost every night.

Then there was Patrick this week referring on his show to ESPN’s practice of “confirming” news broken by other main media outlets. Patrick cited ESPN’s most-recent poaching of the news of the Randy Moss trade - which was reported first by Jay Glazer of FOX Sports. Read more…

Eisen Contract Up August 1, New Deal Unsigned

NFL Network lead host Rich Eisen guested on the Dan Patrick Show this morning and was asked about my report yesterday that he was “fearful” for his job after the NFL recently hired former ESPN programming chief Mark Shapiro. (Shapiro was in part responsible for ESPN not renewing Eisen’s contract in 2003 - leading to his departure from the network.)

Rich Eisen appeared on the Dan Patrick Show to talk about Mark Shapiro joining NFL Network

Audio of Eisen’s remarks and a transcript of his comments are below.
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Sources: NFL Net Changes Leave Eisen “Fearful”

Today the NFL confirmed my Wednesday report that the league had hired Jay Glazer and Daryl Johnston as analysts for NFL Network studio shows.

Rich Eisen and Mark Shapiro

Additionally, the league confirmed another of my earlier reports this week - per John Ourand of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL - that it is now employing former ESPN programming chief Mark Shapiro as a “consultant” for NFL Network game broadcasts and studio shows.

The latter piece of news probably didn’t make NFL Network studio host Rich Eisen’s day. Read more…

NFL Network “Swung And Missed” At Peter King

Turns out the NFL is far from satisfied in allowing NFL Network to be a fringe media player.

NFL Network Tried To Hire Peter King

Earlier today I confirmed that Jay Glazer of Fox Sports was joining NFL Network. I’ve since been informed that the NFL also approached Sports Illustrated’s Peter King about joining the network, but was turned down. (”Swung and missed” was how it was described to me.)

Perhaps even more significant is who the NFL Network has turned to for programming advice. Read more…

PTI Overtakes SportsCenter In Ratings, Revenue

You may or may not know who Mark Shapiro is, but he’s the guy who went from Jim Rome’s lowly production assistant in the early days of ESPN2 to the head of network programming in less than 10 years.

PTI has bigger ratings than SportsCenter

(I refuse to give PTI the nod until Tony K. wraps the wraparound)

As head of ESPN on-air conent from 2002-05, Shapiro created some duds, like those lame ESPN movies and Stephen A. Smith, and current ESPN upper management has quite obviously done plenty to distance itself from many of Shapiro’s initiatives. But Shapiro also masterminded many of the net’s signature properties, like the X Games, ESPY Awards and what has become ESPN’s top in-house broadcast property - Pardon The Interruption.

We all remember when PTI debuted. The over-the-top, sometimes nonsensical graphics & countdown clocks, bizarre between commercial look-ins and two well-aged gents no one had heard of outside The District.

Fast forward to today and according to more than one ESPN source, PTI regularly averages more viewers than SportsCenter and also enjoys a higher ad revenue base. And another bizarro Shapiro concoction, Around The Horn, isn’t far behind. Read more…

Six Flags Bankrupt, Asks Haynesworth for Bailout

Dan Snyder, the controlling interest in Six Flags as well as the owner of the Washington Redskins, installed his crack management team to solve that Six Flags things over there when he forcefully took control of the company in 2005.  Mark Shapiro, formerly the ESPN programming chief, took the reins and promptly instituted cheerleaders, which should have taken care of the company’s money woes.

Dan Snyder and Tom Cruise

(”No, no… we had Bugs Bunny tested and his theta levels are stellar.  So are you interested in investing?”)

Somehow, though, young men and women hopping up and down rhythmically didn’t wash away the  $2.4 billion in debt nor the losses each quarter.  Therefore, Six Flags is following the cool kids in town and filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy just to ditch most of the debt and then climb right back out.  You know, like that time you ran up $50,000 on your credit cards, declared bankruptcy, ditched the debt, and kept your house and car.

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Daniel Snyder’s Six Flags Gets Delisted by NYSE

Times is tough. We all know it. And when the recession is hitting the economy so hard that the most famous amusement park chain in the country might go into bankruptcy proceedings, it’s a dark day. We can’t even sell fun, people! Sad faces everywhere.

Abandoned Roller Coaster
(Snyder quickly offered the roller coaster $40 million over 6 years.)

And so with a stock price well under a quarter, Six Flags is suspended from trading at the New York Stock Exchange, according to the LA TIMES. Incidentally, the Chairman of the Board at Six Flags is one Daniel Snyder, the owner of the Washington Redskins. Should bankruptcy be the call, Snyder’s stake in the company will probably be wiped out, which can’t be good news for the ‘Skins - how good do you think Clinton Portis is feeling about that deferred compensation now?

But there’s a deeper sports connection here, one that’s far more unsettling and unfair. Because according to BLOOMBERG, while shareholders are getting taken to the cleaners, the CEO - a former sports figure - is set to collect a handsome sum of money from the proceedings under an apparently unironically-named “success bonus”: Read more…

Blog-O-Rama: Goodnight Sweet Dump Casey Blake

Casey Blake Scary

  • YOU BEEN BLINDED dials up video of Carlos Zambrano getting K-balled in a fast pitch softball league from back in June.
  • MISTER IRRELEVANT eulogizes the loss of Red Lasso, every blogger’s best friend. I, for one, welcome Brian Powell as our new video overlord.

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Six Flags Over Desperation - Now w/Cheerleaders!

When Daniel Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins and noted spokesman for Short Man’s Disease, installed Mark Shapiro, former ESPN executive VP of programming, as the CEO of Six Flags in 2005 at a rumored cost of $10m in guaranteed salary and bonuses, he certainly hoped for better than cockroach eating contests and finding exciting new lows for the stock price.

Thankfully, 2008 will finally be the year that hire pays off for Snyder. They’re hired away their CFO from Euro Disney, agreed to terms to build Six Flags Over Dubai, and only posted a $253m loss last year. Also, Shapiro has finally figured out how to lure the key teen demographic back to the parks. (No, not Guitar Hero contests. That would be ridiculous.)

Six Flags Marketing meeting

(Six Flags Marketing meeting)

That’s right: theme park cheerleaders!
Read more…