The last few years the “Everything” Sports Programming Network has largely been Football and Basketball. They were buoyed in this by the NHL’s jump to VS following the lockout, and their parent network ABC’s ownership of NFL (originally Monday Night now Sunday Night) and Basketball. It hasn’t been a bad business for the most part, as both sports cover the fall/winter/spring. But with the NFL lockout, you can sort of tell there’s a sick desperation on their side of things. Basketball is looking like it’s going to lockout too.
The question is, will there be enough sports around to talk 24 hours for? ESPN takes a dead horse and beats it deader then words can describe. And that’s with sports going on. Sure NASCAR and MLS exist and ESPN could talk about those two entities. But with Nascar only running one race a week and MLS not being taken seriously by Soccer fans, could they really full up their programming with that? ESPN has created this monster themselves and it’ll be funny to see what the outcome is. Ever since Disney (which owns ABC) bought ESPN they have been giving superior treatment to sports which are broadcast on either ABC or one of the ESPN networks. They could have given a fair shake to the NHL and any number of sports considering they have 24/7 sports coverage on multiple networks. But over the last few years it seems that ESPN exists mainly to hype their own propeties.
I hope both leagues miss this season and ESPN is screwed. If I was Gary Bettman I’d ignore ESPN. They are going to treat the NHL like the prettiest girl at the prom. But the second the NBA and NFL come back it’s going to be the bastard red-haired child again. There is no reason to believe that ESPN is going to magically start spreading it’s coverage around to keep this from happening in the future. Nope, it’s going to ride the NBA and NFL (is Farve coming back?) like it always had and leave the NHL out to pasture.
It’s funny that I dislike ESPN as much as I do now. Even Sportscenter I can’t stand anymore. I mean it used to be THE SHOW for me to watch in the morning and get all my sports updates for. But the way they do Sportscenter now, it just doesn’t feel like it’s bringing you news and highlights. It feels like it’s just being used as a promotions tool. To make matters even worse, you can seemingly never tell when the show stops or starts. So instead of watching for an hour and being up to date, an hour in you find yourself wondering where the first news story you had caught was.
To make matters worse, most of the shows on ESPN are unwatchable or overkill. The few bits of Sports Nation I’ve seen make me question anyone who watches it’s sanity. Meanwhile Around The Horn and Pardon The Interruption, while good ideas, are played back to back and talk about nearly the same dam topics. A lot of the other shows have questionable hosts/co-hosts when it comes to ESPN bringing in far too many former players to host. Now while some players can add a lot to the conversation, the addition of seemingly every QB whose ever played in the NFL seems a bit disingenuous. It’s like they are hiring these guys (Trent Dilfer cough) just because they want to hang out with them.
I’ve ranted enough about ESPN, I just can’t wait to see what they do if both the NBA and NFL are locked out. Hopefully the NHL doesn’t sign a deal with them, and ESPN gets to lay in the bed it’s made.