College Blog
WEEI.com Blog Network
Posts related to ‘ESPN’
Michael Wilbon: Red Sox should consider shutting down Fenway Park after Adam Jones incident 05.03.17 at 10:33 am ET
By   |  Comments Off on Michael Wilbon: Red Sox should consider shutting down Fenway Park after Adam Jones incident
Michael Wilbon had strong words for the city of Boston Tuesday. (Cary Edmondson/USA TODAY Sports)

Michael Wilbon had strong words for the city of Boston Tuesday. (Cary Edmondson/USA TODAY Sports)

“Pardon the Interruption” co-host Michael Wilbon called out Boston Tuesday, questioning whether the city is “Boston Strong” and saying the Red Sox should consider shutting down Fenway Park.

In a spirited back-and-forth with his partner, Tony Kornheiser, the veteran sportswriter lambasted Red Sox fans for allegedly hurling the N-word at Orioles outfielder Adam Jones during Monday’s game. In fact, he proposed the Red Sox temporarily not allow fans into games.

“What the hell is this? 1947? Is that what this is?,” Wilbon asked. “Adam Jones has to be Jackie Robinson, and he has to have stuff thrown at him because he doesn’t look like the people throwing the stuff in the stands? Is that what we’re talking about? Then shut the stadiums down. Do like they do in Europe when they have incidents like this because of racist acts or violence and they say, ‘You know what? We’re having a closed door game.’ Then no fans!”

Wilson also challenged Boston to be “strong enough” to combat bigotry, invoking the slogan that arose following the 2013 Marathon Bombings.

“If you want to tell me all of the time about being ‘Boston Strong,’ then be strong enough and advocate that you can’t have this,” he said. “Be strong enough to have zero tolerance for this kind of behavior in your stadium and in public places.”

The Red Sox condemned the reported behavior in a statement, saying they’re “sickened by the conduct of an ignorant few.” Owner John Henry and club officials met with Jones prior to Tuesday’s game as well. The Fenway Park crowd gave him a standing ovation when he stepped up to the plate in the first inning.

Though Wilbon acknowledged racism exists in other cities, he relayed a personal story about being called the N-word at the Boston Garden.

“The only place I have ever, to my face in a public place, been called the N-word is the Boston Garden,” he said. “This behavior is not new there. And I know people there –– a great many of my friends and relatives, my family members who are Bostonians –– they say how long can we live with this? As long as you continue to have it happen! This isn’t ancient history what happened to Adam Jones. It happened yesterday.”

 

Read More: Adam Jones, ESPN, Michael Wilbon,
Report: ESPN hires Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo’s NBA scoop machine 05.01.17 at 2:01 pm ET
By   |  Comments Off on Report: ESPN hires Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo’s NBA scoop machine
ESPN is hiring Adrian Wojnarowski away from Yahoo Sports.  (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

ESPN is hiring Adrian Wojnarowski away from Yahoo Sports. (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

Last week, ESPN cut several dozen reporters from its staff. On Monday, it reportedly hired perhaps the most prominent sports journalist who wasn’t already on its payroll.

According to Recode.net, ESPN has finalized a deal with Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo Sports’ standout NBA reporter. The move, which Deadspin first covered in February, represents a massive shakeup in the basketball reporting landscape.  Just last year, Yahoo signed Wojnarowski to a four-year contract worth more than $6 million and gave him his own channel, The Vertical. The NBA-focused website poached reporters from the Washington Post, Sports Illustrated and other outlets shortly after it had launched.

ESPN’s move to acquire Wojnarowski, who constantly upstages the WorldWide Leader during the NBA Draft, is a reminder the Disney-backed company remains the dominant force in sports media. For all of its troubles, ESPN is still available in more than 88 million households and owns rights agreements to every major professional sports league.

While numerous NBA writers, including Marc Stein and Chad Forde, were laid off last week, the addition of Wojnarowski shows ESPN is still committed to breaking big basketball news. As Wojnarowski demonstrated at Yahoo, his output can exceed any entire army of reporters.

Read More: Adrian Wojnarowski, ESPN,
ESPN undeserving of criticism for showing Joe Mixon domestic assault video during NFL Draft at 12:30 pm ET
By   |  Comments Off on ESPN undeserving of criticism for showing Joe Mixon domestic assault video during NFL Draft
The Bengals' decision to select Joe Mixon was the most controversial of the NFL Draft. (Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports)

The Bengals’ decision to select Joe Mixon was the most controversial of the NFL Draft. (Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports)

Heading into the NFL Draft, only four teams were reportedly interested in selecting running back Joe Mixon out of Oklahoma. That’s because three years ago, Mixon pled guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge after punching a woman in the head at a restaurant. Video of the incident surfaced last season, which reignited the debate surrounding his playing status.

So when the Bengals drafted Mixon in the second round Friday, it was a big story. WCPO, a news affiliate in Cincinnati, published an editorial urging fans to boycott the team. The two stations that aired the draft, ESPN and the NFL Network, were charged with putting each selection in context. It’s impossible to tell the complete story of Mixon, and the controversy surrounding him, without showing the videotape of his domestic violence incident. ESPN fulfilled its obligation, airing the footage after host Trey Wingo had warned viewers of its graphic nature.

The league-owned NFL Network didn’t show the video, perhaps in an attempt to help insulate the Bengals from criticism. But on social media this weekend, they weren’t facing significant pushback over their efforts to whitewash history. Instead, it was ESPN, for showing people the same video that Mixon’s lawyers released to the public themselves.

The notion that ESPN should be concerned with letting Mixon “have his moment” is asinine and goes against every tenor of journalism. It’s also a mindset that threatens the existence of a free press. A majority of U.S. adults now get their news from social media, which means they’re reading personally curated feeds. As a result, many Americans now live in information echo chambers, where they don’t hear any news they don’t want to.

In the sports media world, league- or team-owned networks are becoming increasingly prevalent. All four major sports leagues have their own cable channels and produce a bevy of digital content. That means some of the most well-known sports journalists in the country now report on outlets that sign their paychecks. The conflicts of interest are endless, and look a lot like not showing the videotape that caused Mixon’s draft stock to plummet.

Much like in the political world, where Democrats and Republicans largely tune into partisan news sources that affirm their world views, some sports fans are no longer seeking out objective content. That explains the rise in fan blogs that are unapologetic about their biased slant.

Journalists can’t be concerned about their subjects’ feelings when they’re reporting a story. ESPN was able to put the Mixon pick in complete context Friday, because it decided the show the video –– no matter how unsavory it may be.

Read More: ESPN, Joe Mixon, NFL Draft,
ESPN’s new rumored left-leaning lineup likely won’t bring lost viewers back 04.27.17 at 5:14 pm ET
By   |  Comments Off on ESPN’s new rumored left-leaning lineup likely won’t bring lost viewers back
ESPN is in the midst of  massive layoffs. (Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports)

ESPN is in the midst of massive layoffs. (Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports)

ESPN’s broken business model is the driving force behind this week’s massive layoffs. The WorldWide Leader has lost 10 million subscribers over the last five years and is paying exorbitant rights fees to broadcast the NFL and NBA. Rising costs combined with declining revenue isn’t a sustainable business plan.

That harsh reality makes it appear as if ESPN’s plight was inevitable. Cable subscriptions are way down in the era of cord-cutting, meaning all networks are drawing from a smaller audience pool. There’s fewer eyeballs to go around.

Despite those troubling trends, ESPN is still available in more than 88 million households (as of December 2016). Even though its parent company, Disney, ordered executives to trim payroll, ESPN possesses more resources than most other media conglomerates. They have the tools to turn it around.

But their lackluster programming is preventing them from doing so.

Given the vast number of reporters who have been canned, it’s apparent ESPN is moving further away from news and veering more towards opinion. While that may cause haughty media critics to bemoan the direction of the industry on Twitter, it’s the right call. In today’s world, where information and highlights can be accessed instantaneously on social media feeds, there’s less of a thirst for news-based programming. Comcast SportsNet New England went through a similar overhaul earlier this year, in which it downsized its news department and expanded its nightly debate shows.

The problem with ESPN is, their studio shows don’t offer much in terms of disagreement or provocation. Outside of “First Take,” which now features Max Kellerman doing a poor man’s Skip Bayless impersonation alongside Stephen A. Smith, few of its programs showcase hosts with varying viewpoints. The exception is “Pardon the Interruption,” but ratings for the iconic program are down by more than 10 percent in comparison to last year.

On a recent edition of Sports Illustrated’s media podcast with Richard Deitsch, James Andrew Miller, who authored “Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN,” predicted the network’s new weekday lineup. It is as follows:

6:00-7:00 a.m.: Re-airing of west coast “SportsCenter” with Neil Everett and Stan Verett

7:00-10:00 a.m.: Mike Greenberg’s new morning variety show

10:00-12:00 p.m.: “First Take”

12:00-1:00 p.m.: New show with Bomani Jones and Pablo Torre

1:00-6:00 p.m.: Afternoon programming, including Dan Le Batard’s “Highly Questionable,” “Around the Horn” and “Pardon the Interruption”

6:00-7:00 p.m.: “SC6″ with Jemele Hill and Michael Smith

Evenings: Live sporting events

11:00 p.m.: “SportsCenter”

Midnight: “SportsCenter” with Scott Van Pelt

The rumored Greenberg morning show seems especially problematic. Given all of the options for morning TV, including partisan cable news programs drawing record numbers in the Trump era, it’s difficult to find a constituency for Greenberg’s inoffensive style. The networks –– CBS, ABC and NBC –– already have the market cornered on breezy morning talk. It seems unlikely the milquetoast anchor would be able to offer anything different.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: ESPN,
ESPN appears to be scaling back its MLB coverage –– big time at 11:37 am ET
By   |  Comments Off on ESPN appears to be scaling back its MLB coverage –– big time
Karl Ravech (right) is reportedly going to see his role at ESPN significantly reduced. (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

Karl Ravech (right) is reportedly going to see his role at ESPN significantly reduced. (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

ESPN gutted its MLB coverage Wednesday, laying off several prominent reporters and analysts. As a result, the WorldWide Leader is now looking towards the outside in an effort to beef up its baseball programming.

In a press release, ESPN announced it’s partnering with MLB Network to air “Intentional Talk,” the slap-and-tickle fest hosted by Chris Rose and Kevin Millar. The program will run from 4:00-5:00 p.m. on ESPN2 beginning next week.

The collaboration between ESPN and MLB Network isn’t a surprise, given Disney’s 33 percent stake in MLB Advanced Media. It appears as if ESPN is dramatically cutting down on its original MLB studio programming, with “Baseball Tonight” mainstays such as Dallas Braden, Doug Glanville and Raul Ibanez receiving their walking papers Wednesday. The Hollywood Reporter says “Baseball Tonight” host Karl Ravech is going to see his role significantly reduced.

While ESPN pays MLB $700 million annually to broadcast games, it’s apparent baseball coverage is no longer a priority in Bristol. That’s likely a reflection on MLB’s lessened national standing. “Sunday Night Baseball,” once a marquee property, continues to see its ratings flounder in comparison to the network’s other major telecasts.

MLB will still be covered more prominently than the NHL –– ESPN canned three hockey reporters this week –– but the gap is closing.

Read More: ESPN, MLB,
Jemele Hill to Kirk Minihane: Meet me ‘face to face’ at 10:02 am ET
By   |  Comments Off on Jemele Hill to Kirk Minihane: Meet me ‘face to face’

Update (May 3, 2:45 p.m.): Kirk Minihane and Jemele Hill are back at it, this time sparring over Hill’s commentary on the Adam Jones incident at Fenway Park:

Previously: 

None of the several dozen employees who ESPN canned Wednesday expressed animosity towards the WorldWide Leader on their way out the door.

Kirk Minihane did it for them.

While watching “SC:6″ with Jemele Hill and Michael Smith, Minihane offered up a less than flattering take about the show.

Despite receiving ample promotion, Smith and Hill have been unable to gain a steady audience for their new venture. As of last month, ratings for the 6:00 p.m. edition of “SportsCenter” were down 12 percent from 2016 –– on par with “Pardon the Interruption.”

The reaction to the program has been harsh as well. Yahoo finance writer Daniel Roberts tweeted this week roughly 50 percent of the 3,000 comments he received on a story about ESPN’s layoffs were people pleading with the company to cancel “SC:6.”

Hill, though, isn’t taking the criticism sitting down. After declining an invitation to join “Kirk & Callahan,” she said she wants to meet Minihane “face to face.”

If that confrontation aired on “SC:6″ one night, perhaps the show would finally draw a rating.

Read More: ESPN, Jemele Hill, Kirk Minihane,
Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Caitlyn Jenner says she knew O.J. Simpson killed Nicole Brown Simpson; Twitter reactions to ESPN layoffs at 8:52 am ET
By   |  Comments Off on Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Caitlyn Jenner says she knew O.J. Simpson killed Nicole Brown Simpson; Twitter reactions to ESPN layoffs

Good morning! Here is your Thursday Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories and scores from our news wire.

THURSDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Seattle at Detroit, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Houston at Cleveland, 6 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: NY Yankees at Boston, 7:10 p.m. (NESN)
NBA: Toronto at Milwaukee, 7 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: San Antonio at Memphis, 9:30 p.m. (TNT)
NFL Draft, 8 p.m. (ESPN, NFL Network)
NHL: NY Rangers at Ottawa, 7 p.m. (CNBC)
NHL: Pittsburgh at Washington, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

— In an appearance on Andy Cohen’s Sirius XM channel, Radio Andy, on Wednesday, Caitlyn Jenner said she is sure O.J. Simpson killed Nicole Brown Simpson in 1994.

“I knew he did it,” Jenner told Cohen.“There was three people at the crime scene: DNA evidence, three people at the crime scene. Pick a murderer. How hard is that?”

Nicole Simpson was a close friend of Kris Jenner, whose late husband Robert Kardashian was an attorney for O.J. in the murder trial. Jenner said even though Kardashian believed Simpson to be innocent, “Kris was on my side.”

“After the whole thing was over Robert just said to me, ‘I would have been OK if they got him in the first trial.’ That’s the only thing he ever said and that’s about the closest he’ll ever come, [while] never saying he actually did it,” Jenner said.

She said after the first trial, “[Kardashian] was now the guy who helped [Simpson] get away with murder and he was destroyed by everybody. And I felt terribly sorry for him.”

Jenner also said Kris “pretty much knew. We were just obviously very disappointed with the verdict.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Caitlyn Jenner, ESPN,
Colin Cowherd: ESPN layoffs will ‘happen annually’ over next decade 04.26.17 at 5:06 pm ET
By   |  Comments Off on Colin Cowherd: ESPN layoffs will ‘happen annually’ over next decade
Colin Cowherd says he expects ESPN to continue to cut costs.  (Jerry Lai/USA TODAY Sports)

Colin Cowherd says he expects ESPN to continue to cut costs. (Jerry Lai/USA TODAY Sports)

Colin Cowherd says he isn’t surprised about the massive layoffs at ESPN. In fact, he predicts they will continue for the next several years.

In an interview Wednesday on CBS Radio in Cleveland, the former ESPN yapper said the WorldWide Leader is forking over too much money for rights agreements. The network is now paying $3.3 billion annually to broadcast the NFL and NBA.

“This is not going to end today. They have really cost-prohibitive contracts, combined with cord-cutting,” Cowherd said. “I said this [last year] when they cut 350 people, I said it the next day, it’s awful, and it will happen annually for the next decade.”

ESPN signed a whopping nine-year contract with the NBA worth $1.4 billion annually that kicked in at the start of this season. The network inked a $15 billion rights deal with the NFL, despite an increasingly lackluster Monday night schedule. In addition to “Monday Night Football,” ESPN receives access to game highlights and broadcasts one postseason contest per season.

Given the prevalence of cord-cutting, the strategy of overextending for TV contracts doesn’t appear to be a sustainable business model.

“At Fox, we pay $1.1 billion for the NFL,” Cowherd said. “You have the 1:oo window and the 4:00 window, wild card games, NFC Championship, and two of the next four Super Bowls. We make a lot of money on the NFL … ESPN pays $1.9 billion, gets a bunch of highlights, no Super Bowls, and one increasingly irrelevant Monday Night Football game. We have a great NFL contract, they have a really marginalized NFL contract.”

Cowherd is one of several big name ESPN personalities who’s left Bristol in recent years. The longtime talk radio host signed with Fox Sports in 2015 for a contract that pays him more than $6 million annually. Bill Simmons, Keith Olbermann and Skip Bayless are also no longer with ESPN. The WorldWide Leader was reportedly prepared to offer Bayless a deal worth roughly $4 million per year, but Fox Sports topped them.

Since ESPN is hemorrhaging subscribers –– its lost at least 12 million households over the last five years –– it will likely keep looking to cut costs. The WorldWide Leader can seemingly no longer afford to pay exorbitant rights fees and keep its newsroom intact.

Read More: Colin Cowherd, ESPN,
ESPN lays off three NHL reporters, appears prepared to virtually ignore hockey all together at 3:58 pm ET
By   |  Comments Off on ESPN lays off three NHL reporters, appears prepared to virtually ignore hockey all together
ESPN is cutting virtually all of its NHL coverage. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

ESPN is cutting most of its NHL coverage. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Hockey diehards often lambast ESPN for skimping on NHL coverage. But now it looks like the WorldWide Leader is preparing to ignore the sport all together.

As expected, ESPN underwent mass layoffs Wednesday, cutting dozens of high-profile employees so it can trim tens of millions of dollars from its payroll. The network’s relatively minuscule NHL department was hit hard, with three respected reporters receiving their walking papers.

NHL Insider Pierre LeBrun, columnist Scott Burnside and Boston-based reporter Joe McDonald have all announced they were laid off. The status of anchor John Buccigross, who plays a significant role in the network’s Stanley Cup Playoff coverage, remains uncertain. The Hollywood Reporter said earlier Wednesday he was let go, but walked the story back. Buccigross’ contract expires July 1 and hasn’t been renewed.

“Whatever happens, I’m very optimistic about the future of ESPN and about my future,” Buccigross told Sporting News last month. “We both will be fine. I’m not the anchor for gossip. I go into work with my head down, work with our producers to put a compelling 60 minutes together, and walk out the door and drive to my rural Connecticut home singing Jason Isbell songs. I get home, eat 10 pieces of American cheese and then read until I fall asleep.”

Given Barry Melrose was the only NHL analyst to receive significant television time, the coverage on “SportsCenter” and other studio shows likely won’t be much different. But the NHL’s limited exposure on ESPN’s digital properties will probably be further minimized.

Since ESPN doesn’t own NHL rights, this decision isn’t surprising. Like every other TV network, ESPN is interested in promoting its own programming.

Read More: ESPN, NHL,
Report: ESPN layoffs could be worse than expected 04.25.17 at 12:38 pm ET
By   |  Comments Off on Report: ESPN layoffs could be worse than expected
ESPN layoffs could be announced as early as tomorrow. (Ron Chenoy/USA Today Sports)

ESPN layoffs could be announced as early as tomorrow. (Ron Chenoy/USA Today Sports)

It’s been reported for some time ESPN will undergo massive layoffs this spring. But the damage might be worse than expected.

According to the Sporting News’ Michael McCarthy, the WorldWide Leader could slash 70 employees, most of whom are on-air talent or digital reporters. This is a larger figure than the original estimation of 40-50 cuts, which media reporter James Andrew Miller mentioned last month on Richard Deitsch’s Sports Illustrated podcast.

Citing multiple sources, McCarthy says ESPN’s campus was “eerily silent” Tuesday and that it’s the “dead calm before the storm.” ESPN staff writer Paul Kuharsky, who covers the Titans, was laid off Monday.

On Facebook Tuesday, Deitsch said the majority of layoffs could come as early as Wednesday. Disney holds its second-quarter earnings call May 9.

The Sporting News also reports many ESPN anchors are offering to take pay cuts so they can keep their jobs at the network. The company is reportedly offering talent the choice to walk away with 50 percent of their pay, or hold out for what they’re owed and likely be sidelined from TV.

It’s no secret that ESPN has been hemorrhaging subscribers. In February 2011, the network was available in more than 100 million households. As of December 2016, that number was down to 88.4 million. The decreased advertising revenue coming out of Bristol is one of the reasons why Disney, ESPN’s parent company, reported lower-than-anticipated first quarter earnings earlier this year.

On the Deitsch podcast, Miller also mapped out what he thinks ESPN’s new weekday lineup will look like. Following the re-airing of Neil Everett and Stan Verrett’s west coast “SportsCenter,” he expects Mike Greenberg to host his own variety show from 7-10 a.m. Miller said he believes Bomani Jones and Pablo Torre will get their own afternoon show, with the afternoon block of programming staying in place along with Jemele Hill and Michael Smith’s “SC:6.” Scott Van Pelt’s solo “SportsCenter” would still air at midnight following live game coverage.

Read More: ESPN,