FanDuel - WFBC

August 13, 2007

Who's Now Pissed -- ESPN Viewers Hammer Network Over 'Buzz' Competition: "This is a command performance column -- the command having been issued by the hundreds of viewers who asked me to say something about the Who's Now segments that ran on SportsCenter throughout July. No single topic has ever drawn the volume and intensity of unsolicited complaints to either my or my predecessor's mailbox that this sports popularity contest has." -- ESPN ombudsman Le Anne Schreiber

posted by rcade to general at 02:45 PM - 39 comments

I've been batting around a vitriol-filled, insult-laden column about "Who's Next" in particular, and ESPN in general, for about a month now. Reading this politically motivated flop piece may just cause me to set venom to paper. In a digital sort of way, of course.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 02:57 PM on August 13

I wish ESPN would consider adding to its lineup a crisp, half-hour, nightly news version of SportsCenter -- just news and highlights, without gimmicks or sponsored segments or recaps, without self- or cross-promotion, with a consistent anchor team accountable for a consistent tone, with spare to no use of instant commentary. A prime-time island of clean, clear, straightforward news on which ESPN's journalistic credibility could securely rest. Well fucking duh. Beyond Who's Now, (Which, by the way, was run into the ground by radio talk show hosts in 1994.) I wonder if they think we actully want to hear these windbags blabber mindlessly about whether they would buy or sell Peyton Manning. Or did they realize they can have the babblemouths ramble on about nothing for hardly any money, very limited production and zero thought?

posted by SummersEve at 04:11 PM on August 13

'Who's Now' = 'What's Filler'. You know what I'd like SportsCenter to do when it's The Month Of Only Baseball? Cover other sports. Properly. The ones that don't get a look-in during March or October. But those contrbutors are under contract, and blabbering is what they do. For contrast, look at Sky Sports News on Fox Soccer Channel. Admittedly, it's usually the through-the-night broadcasts that get retransmitted across the pond, when not much is breaking, but there's a refreshing cleanness to the coverage. No contrived sponsored segments -- 'Now, let's look at our Whopper of the Week' -- and the right sort of rhythm. You get the rundown from :00 to :30, a recap at the half-hour, and wider coverage in the second half.

posted by etagloh at 04:41 PM on August 13

I'm frickin' oozing with pride over the fact I don't even know what this thread is about.

posted by garfield at 05:03 PM on August 13

It's about the marketing clown show shite that passes for sports reporting, or news reporting in general, nowadays, and how we'd prefer to get just the facts, ma'am, just the facts. And may I say, also, that it's the US that excels at it. And furthermore, that other countries seek to emulate it?

posted by worldcup2002 at 05:14 PM on August 13

WERE #1!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

posted by yerfatma at 05:46 PM on August 13

And I thought I was among the minority hating those ignorant segments. Thank you so much for the validation.

posted by tinyrey at 06:28 PM on August 13

Between those and Barry Bonds SportsCenter was worse than normal for a while, which is hard to do. From all the Barry highlights I'd have thought the Giants were the only ones playing baseball. If the competition was entirely based on ESPN coverage I think that Bonds should have won it in a landslide.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 08:02 PM on August 13

The raw, unadulterated ESPN crap gets broadcast in Australia, too. What gets me is why they think anyone would be interested in what the talking heads think in the first place. I'm for the half hour of sports news and highlights - down here some of the free to air channels have quite good all sports coverage, especially on weekends. Like garfield, I'm often glad I don't know what's going on in Around the Horn or PTI. And anyway, how can someone who's a golfer, be considered 'Now'. With apologies to JJ, golf is probably the uncoolest sport on the planet (NB: lawn bowls is so uncool it's cool again, if you know what I mean).

posted by owlhouse at 08:37 PM on August 13

I thought it was fun.

posted by everett at 10:30 PM on August 13

I thought I had lost my #$&#@* mind about this. It is like the swimsuit issue, but no sexy women for the readers to drool over. It has no place in sports and I am glad that I am not alone. I can't believe they actually have crap like this on ESPN!!!!!!!!!!!! It is a sports network, not "E" or Hollywood Insider. Leave all the Who's Hot to the people that do smut journalism.

posted by Mickster at 11:01 PM on August 13

It is a sports network, not "E" or Hollywood Insider. While i agree that the bit was lame, the "E" does stand for entertainment. It is the entertainment and sports network. Many people forget this.

posted by brainofdtrain at 11:23 PM on August 13

Lets just all agree to concentrate a little more on the "S" shall we????

posted by jknemo at 11:31 PM on August 13

Education time: I enjoy when someone tries to appear "smart" and play devils advocate, only to appear like a moron. The latest attempt at this occurred when "brainofdtrain" kindly reminded us that the "E" in ESPN stands for "Entertainment" Yep, no shit, it stands for Entertainment and Sports Programming Network. Now, here's the education part: When ESPN first came out in 1980, there was serious doubt among people in the industry (being television) that a 24-hour all-sports network could be sustainable. In fact, the concept of ESPN was first pitched to The Sporting News in 1979, and they turned it down. So, ESPN decided that it had to mix "Entertainment" with "Sports" to make it sell with the general public. However, the experts in New York and Hollywood missed the mark, since ESPN was widely popular early on and continues today. However, since "ESPN" is now more or less an acronym, removing the "Entertainment" from the call letters would be suicide. Therefore, it remains. And yes, they have their own programming, thus satisfying "Entertainment", it is still basically a 24-7 all-sports network. So, brainofdtrain, nice attempt at devils advocate. Next time, do a little research and try a little education. As far as this thread is concerned, ESPN is so full of itself it's pathetic. I miss the days of Dan Patrick and Keith Olberman and the group of old-timers who reported the news, not became a part of it.

posted by sptwcg at 11:48 PM on August 13

We get TSN here in Canada who are sort of ESPN Lite. (ESPN are a shareholder, and the logos, despite saying TSN, are ESPN logos.) The network was always pretty poor anyway (I prefer my other two sports channels) but the ESPN affiliation just makes you feel dumber the longer you watch it.

posted by Drood at 01:19 AM on August 14

How do you think the peerless Tom Mees would feel about who's more now, more next, or who's more meaningless?

posted by tahoemoj at 03:18 AM on August 14

Yep, no shit, it stands for Entertainment and Sports Programming Network. Ah, not any more. (Though I didn't know that ESPN on ABC is, um, the new name for ABC Sports.)

posted by etagloh at 03:28 AM on August 14

Education time: I enjoy when someone tries to appear "smart" and play devils advocate, only to appear like a moron. As opposed to when somebody who's only posted once comes in with a snide, shitty attitude and falls all over themselves in a desperate attempt to spread as much of their arrogance around as possible? 'Cause that's lots of fun, too! Thanks for your little "education," which didn't really tell anybody anything they didn't already know. In fact, you got some stuff wrong: ESPN actually launched on September 7, 1979, not 1980. Also, ESPN, which at one time stood for Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, is now a hollow acronym that stands for nothing. Next time, why don't you do a little research and try a little education?

posted by The_Black_Hand at 05:24 AM on August 14

We sound like MTV viewers lamenting that they don't play music videos any more. ESPN became huge because it was a hardcore sports channel, but it's becoming softer by the year, like how NBC turned the Olympics into an excuse to show 40 minutes of heart-warming human interest features spread around 20 minutes of competition. It's too bad CNNSI failed, because there's an opportunity for a sports channel that's serious about sports.

posted by rcade at 07:28 AM on August 14

I agree that the Who's Now bit was PATHETIC. It's pointless. Further, it's DEPRESSING, in that it shows you just how "off focus" many of the sports fans are in this country today. I think that the Who's Now car crash could lead into yet another blast against ESPN, but we've already read too many of those on this site, haven't we? Garfield, I'm jealous of you - my brain was nearly turned to mush whenever one of these segments came on. No single segment has forced me to seek out alternatives for "background noise" during my morning routine than Who's Now. One counterpoint, however: as a native NYer, I dig Bronx is Burning.

posted by BCHockey at 08:06 AM on August 14

"SportsCenter is a big tent. And I think our audience is really smart..." No. Sorry, that just can't be true. "Who's Now" was the most blatant pandering to the lowest common denominator since the launch and very embarrassing success of "Married With Children."

posted by The Crafty Sousepaw at 08:52 AM on August 14

I guess the irony I find enjoyable in all this debate is that ESPN wants to talk about their journalistic integrity and the excellent reporting they've done on the Michael Vick case. Just days before Vick was indicted, they reported he WOULD NOT be indicted. Then they tried to claim they got it right all along. And Chris Mortensen tried to pass it off on his sources. "I didn't say he wouldn't be indicted; my SOURCES said he wouldn't be indicted." But the thing is, Chris, people rely on YOU to decide if those sources are credible, and YOU decided to run with it. When you use them anonymously, we can't even judge what their level of involvement and/or bias might be. And if I'm not mistaken, the crawler and the anchors commonly say, "ESPN's Chris Mortensen is reporting that ..." You can't have it both ways. There are countless other examples of questionable news reporting and judgment from ESPN and their team of heavyweight journalists, such as Michael Irvin and Sean Salisbury. This is all pretty tangential, but suffice it to say that in a Who's Now competition among sports news agencies, I'd not be voting for ESPN these days.

posted by olelefthander at 10:49 AM on August 14

"Who's Now" was the most blatant pandering to the lowest common denominator since the launch and very embarrassing success of "Married With Children." Hey!! What was wrong with "Married with Children"? I loved that show. There are countless other examples of questionable news reporting and judgment from ESPN and their team of heavyweight journalists, such as Michael Irvin... Michael Irving is no longer part of the ESPN 'family' but as far as I knew, he was known as an analyst, not a journalist

posted by BornIcon at 11:27 AM on August 14

"You know what I'd like SportsCenter to do when it's The Month Of Only Baseball? Cover other sports. Properly. The ones that don't get a look-in during March or October. But those contrbutors are under contract, and blabbering is what they do." While I think that this would be great, there is one problem with this idea. Blabbering Idiots are cheap while actual reporting is... well, not. Thus the proliferation of soft news, which costs less and requires less time than real news. Sadly 'if it bleeds it leads' applies to sports news for much the same reason as it applies to the six o'clock news.

posted by oxocerite at 12:22 PM on August 14

hey dont mock my show married with children. now to the heart of the matter we have to realize that we are no more important to ESPN now that they have our attention. they feel they can show anything with no relevent at all and we will watch it. stick to SPORTS I say and leave the BS where it should be in the toilet.

posted by jbc728md at 12:32 PM on August 14

ESPN is still just one channel. Other channels show sports, even if they're not dedicated to it. Also, there's ESPN news which just shows the highlights and the relevant news (trades, injury reports, etc.) The bottom line: you all have the option of switching channels on your TV. Click!

posted by NerfballPro at 12:57 PM on August 14

My sports channel is FSC.

posted by worldcup2002 at 01:12 PM on August 14

Also, there's ESPN news which just shows the highlights and the relevant news (trades, injury reports, etc.) Unless a certain someone is approaching a major record in which case it is just as bad as ESPN. Otherwise it is a pretty decent channel although it doesn't usually come with a basic cable package.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 01:28 PM on August 14

So, brainofdtrain, nice attempt at devils advocate. Next time, do a little research and try a little education. sptwcg, I guess i struck a nerve that i didn't intend to. I'm not sure if you missed this in the fpp, but the article itself deals with the tension ESPN has between providing entertainment and sports. I doubt that this is a brand new phenonmenon that started with "Whose Now." Now i'm not disputing the fact that ESPN has mostly focused on sports, but if you honestly think that no other elements outside the realm of sports has existed on ESPN prior to the last few years, then i guess we'll have to just agree to disagree. Also, while i agree with you that Dan Patrick and Olberman were great, if you think that they merely passed on sports facts in a cool, anti-septic, Dan Rather way, then i think you have become too sentimental about the "good old days." Maybe we (everyone is included now), need to define what qualifies as entertainment. Because Patrick and Olberman were very entertaining, but obviously not in the same way as "Whose Now" is trying to be.

posted by brainofdtrain at 03:18 PM on August 14

Old, but still relevant. And it just about covers everything we're bitching about: 52 reasons to hate ESPN from Every Day Should Be Saturday.

posted by SummersEve at 04:43 PM on August 14

Also, Olberman and company delivered sports news in an entertaining way. They communicated the info while finding ways to be funny. Big difference when compared to the clowns on there now who think they are comedians and/or athletes.

posted by SummersEve at 04:47 PM on August 14

ESPN is no different than most other American businesses that need (in a Wall Street sense) to keep building profits even after they saturate the market. Plus, they only have 24 hours a day to program and adding channels is like adding CPUs to a computer whose operating system isn't tuned for it. Pete Schlossberg, of Pete's Wicked Ale and now Cocoa Pete's Chocolate Adventure, gave a presentation I saw a couple of years ago comparing beer and chocolate recipes in the US with Europe and yes, he brought chocolate samples; the beer brand was sold years before to Dos Equis. Anyway, he said that you can graph the quantity of rice (rice!) used in Bud and Miller and the like and every year its higher. The reason is that the less taste (i.e., blander), the less likely any individual is to not like the taste. Not that he or she would like it more, just not dislike it, and, compared to the beer markets in Europe, which tend to be more local/regional, is much larger they have to do this to get bigger. Very similar for chocolate makers. If ESPN essentially captured the mass sports market years ago, then the execs need to figure out how to expand out of it to increase profits. Pablum may not excite anyone but neither does it offend. Hard core fans in any of these markets, like us here, are not large enough to disrail this strategy.

posted by billsaysthis at 07:43 PM on August 14

ESPN is still just one channel. Other channels show sports, even if they're not dedicated to it. Also, there's ESPN news which just shows the highlights and the relevant news (trades, injury reports, etc.) When you spend nearly half your nights stuck in a motel room in garden spots like Socorro, NM; Wilmington, OH; Ft. Walton Beach, FL; Tonopah, NV; and a host of other places we go because that's where the test sites are, you find that ESPN is often the only channel. Right now, I'm suffering through Bill O'Reilly on Fox News rather than put up with another poker tour on ESPN. At least on the computer I can look at MLB Gameday to get score updates. When I first started watching ESPN, there were times when I said to myself, "Why am I watching this?" Usually there was some meaningless tennis or golf match being played in Maylaysia or Peru. Lately, I have been rapidly seeking out the remote any time someone says "Who's Hot" or the 394th replay of Barry's number 756 is shown. Sadly, ESPN remains the only game in some of the towns I visit. I surely wish they would do more things like Baseball Tonight, NFL Live, etc. Their game broadcasts are usually good, but they seem to prefer poker tours, billiards, or pig races from the carnival. What I'm trying to say is what billsaysthis has put so well. ESPN has become the blandest of the bland and is always trying to lower themselves to a new market. I suppose that nothing more can be expected from The Mouse and the birthplace of Yellow Journalism.

posted by Howard_T at 08:14 PM on August 14

I thought it was fun. posted by everett I gave it a chance. I wanted it to be fun. I'm not against fun, and I don't really look to espn for anything more than that. But it was just bad television. I'm not even sure what "now" means. And the guest would often discuss sports that they simply didn't understand. And in the early rounds at least it was just a basic popularity contest. Why even have those rounds. Just start at the top with Arod and Tiger (or whoever). It just... sucked. When you spend nearly half your nights stuck in a motel room in garden spots like Socorro, NM; Wilmington, OH; Ft. Walton Beach, FL Well, honestly, if you're in Ft. Walton you should be at the beach.

posted by justgary at 12:31 AM on August 15

I was also not a big fan of the "Who's Now" crap. Speaking as someone who has been thinking about going into college looking at sports journalism as a major, it's disappointing to see that this is what sports journalism has been reduced to. I like some good analysis of actual games, not of which athlete is more "now". This whole shenanigan hasn't changed my ideas about my future, but I think I'd rather not work at ESPN if everything comes out to that. Bah. Executives.

posted by boredom_08 at 12:34 AM on August 15

Well, honestly, if you're in Ft. Walton you should be at the beach. Or, at the very least, trolling for tourist chicks down on Miracle Strip Parkway. Let me know next time you're there, Howard, maybe I'll rent you my house for the week. At a SportsFilter Premium Member discount rate, of course.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 04:34 AM on August 15

Well, honestly, if you're in Ft. Walton you should be at the beach. My days in ft. Walton Beach usually consists of being on the range at Eglin AFB at 0500 for setup, first trigger (shot) at 0900, shots continuing until 1600, 2 or 3 hours of data analysis, then back to the hotel for an hour or two of e-mail and report writing. Is there a beach there? Seriously, Ft. Walton Beach and Destin have some really nice places to eat and drink. I don't mean to give offense to anyone from places like this, but there's a reason test ranges are located in the middle of nowhere. When we screw up, we don't hit anything that costs money. TBH, it might not be for a couple of months before we hit Eglin again, but I'll keep you in mind. We can at least tip a cold one at McGuires.

posted by Howard_T at 10:04 PM on August 15

Howard, I wasted many a day as a youth four-wheeling through the spacious Eglin Reservation, and only every once in a great while did we find any unexploded ordnance and/or Army Rangers in training. I wreaked a great deal of havoc on Eglin AFB, and since my mother's second husband was the Watch Commander of the SP squadron, I largely got away with it. Good times, good times. Actually, I don't live there anymore, but I still own a house in FWB...available for rent in November, if anybody's interested!

posted by The_Black_Hand at 09:53 AM on August 16

First of all, let me kick off saying I hated the whole idea as well. That being said, I think it would have been a better gauge of who's actually "now" had they left the seeds out of it. People who find this type of reality show/sports journalism were going to the website and if they knew nothing of the "contenders", or even if they did, they were undoubtedly swayed by the seeding of the athletes. On another note, as a soccer player and fan, I was actually glad to see Becks do well against LT.

posted by Ricardo at 08:48 AM on August 17

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