The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: E.S.P.N. and The Blogosphere

It comes as a surprise to no one that Orson Swindle has already beaten me to the punch, but an idea this heinous deserves multiple denunciations: E.S.P.N. plans to launch a new show, "College Football Live," in July.

The 30-minute daily telecast "will be hosted mostly by Rece Davis" (their emphasis, not mine), who "will be joined by a rotating mix" of on-air "talent" not including Chris Fowler, whose exclusion doubtless will be the subject of a forthcoming diary entry.

Commencing on July 23, "College Football Live" will air at 3:30 p.m. on weekdays, when even webloggers are at work. E.S.P.N.'s senior vice president of programming, David Berson, explained the Worldwide Leader's decision like so:

College football fans want more content. This has been a long time coming. It's a natural extension for us. We expect it to become a staple of our programming.

That time, the extra emphasis was mine, not U.S.A. Today's. As sports television writer Michael McCarthy notes, perhaps subconsciously, the E.S.P.N. executive's perception that "fans want more content" is quantitative, not qualitative:
Berson says ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC posted record TV ratings for college football programming in 2006. College GameDay posted its highest ratings in 20 years, and ABC successfully launched Saturday Night Football.

Personally, I would like to believe that ratings for "GameDay" were up because millions of Americans were playing the "College GameDay" Drinking Game, but that is just wishful thinking on my part. The point is that three of the numerous noggins amid the hydra-headed "family of networks" earned high ratings for college football programming, including "Saturday Night Football."

I question whether this really indicates a greater desire for "content"---at least insofar as "content" can be characterized using such terms as "natural extension" and "staple," terms which smack of exercises in self- and cross-promotion---rather than an appetite for games, but, if E.S.P.N.'s Saturday morning pregame show is pulling in viewers in greater numbers, perhaps that indicates just how strongly fans crave an oasis amid the barren wastelands of Bristol surrounding the ruined monument that is the Ozymandias of the airwaves.

If by "content" Berson means "commentary," though, why are Lou Holtz and Craig James among the analysts who will be featured on "College Football Live"? Surely no one finds either of them enlightening, engaging, entertaining, or even interesting, except as evidence of the imperviousness of some television personalities (sic.) to the shame that their respective scandal-riddled pre-broadcast careers would have produced in better men.

If we cannot look to E.S.P.N. for content other than live game coverage, though, where are we to look? Uh, here's a hint . . . you're there right now. Starts with a "blogo"? Ends with a "sphere"?

As it was explained 11 months ago (with a relatively mild accompanying adult content advisory) in the Blog-ifesto:

In the recent past (more specifically, the last 13 to 15 months), sports blogs have become increasingly organized, more popular, and more professional. Now, when I'm in the mood for a candid and lighthearted breakdown of college football, I don't turn on ESPN, I click over to EDSBS. I don't read the crappy AP box score for a football game when I can read Brian from MGoBlog break down a game at a level of detail several orders of magnitude higher than the fine-print on the back page of the paper. I get the scoop on my favorite team from Blue-Gray Sky or Irish Eyes, and get all my daily news from Deadspin.

I don't do this because I'm a snooty blog elitist, I do this because the information, creativity, and overall presentation of information is superior. It's dynamic, constantly-changing and adapting, sharply and intelligently opinionated, and, at times, downright hilarious shit. My RSS reader has several dozen feeds for sports blogs (which I don't have room to list by name here -- although the bookmark bar on the side is a pretty good cross-section, and everything I've said above is applicable to those sites, too), and I spend a good amount of time reading through those feeds in an effort to become a better-educated sports fan.

And that's the point that ESPN [doesn't] get. You can't just say you found something "on the internet" anymore. These sports articles aren't like the "50 Reasons a Beer is Better than a Woman" e-mail your annoying co-worker forwards to you once a month, they're well thought-out and work-intensive observations that somebody worked very hard on and published to the world, free of charge, because they felt it was worth saying. All bloggers ask for in return is an appreciative audience and credit where credit is due. . . . The days of ignoring sports blogs [are] over, and so are the days as dismissing [them] as anonymous internet chatter made available for the benefit of commercial networks.


What, then, are we to do with ourselves until E.S.P.N. gets college football cranked up again five months hence? Would you believe . . . Every Day Should Be Saturday Radio?

You heard right. From 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Eastern time tomorrow night on BlogTalkRadio, actual webloggers will be changing out of their pajamas and heading upstairs from their basements to engage in actual human interaction.

Give Orson and Burnt Orange Nation's Peter Bean a call at (718) 664-6532 at showtime. The revolution will not be televised, but it will be broadcast over the internet.

Go 'Dawgs!

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