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AdAge: ESPN Wants to Be MySpace for Sports Fans

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by poindexter, Jul 3, 2006.

  1. poindexter

    poindexter Well-Known Member

    What a perfect thread for SportsJournalists.com:

    Bill Simmons!

    NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- ESPN is hoping to become the MySpace of the sports world. In September, it will unveil as part of ESPN's Sports Nation property the tools for fans to create profiles, contribute to sports blogs, post opinions and link to favorite articles.
    Bill Walton
    Bill Walton
    Photo Credit: ESPN

    John Zaccario, VP-digital media sales and marketing at ESPN, revealed the plans to advertisers at a pre-NBA Draft party in Chelsea that also featured an appearance by NBA great (and ESPN basketball analyst) Bill Walton. "We want to make the sports fan the center of ESPN's universe," Mr. Zaccari said. ESPN will allow users to personalize their home pages and participate in blogs and discussions around favorite teams and sports.

    'Team sponsorships'
    ESPN plans to sell "team sponsorships" around the community-driven elements of its website, much like the sponsorships individual professional teams ink with marketers. For example, a particular beer marketer could be the official beer of the New York Yankees on ESPN.

    ESPN also unveiled its digital plans for "Monday Night Football," coined "Monday Night Surround." ESPN.com's editor in chief, John Papanek, said the network would cover the game "the way ABC covered the Super Bowl -- with fleets of trucks and armies of crews." "Monday Night Surround" will feature scouting reports, news and games within a game, where fans from the opposing teams register and battle each other for fan supremacy through trivia, IQ contests, debates and betting contest created and hosted by Page Two columnistBill Simmons.

    Network executives also detailed Scream, ESPN's new broadband player, and reported that ESPN 360 managed 40,000 simultaneous streams of World Cup play. ESPN 360 is only available to 8 million subscribers but ESPN launched a free trial of the service June 26.

    Long-winded session
    Mr. Walton took the stage for what was promised to be a half-hour question-and-answer session, but the long-winded basketball star-turned-analyst didn't get around to answering many queries; he instead regaled digital media buyers with stories of his formative and basketball playing years, critiqued this year's NBA Finals and yet, somehow, managed to work praise for ESPN into nearly every subject he approached.

    He likened Ed Erhardt, ESPN's president-customer sales and marketing, to former Boston Celtics coach Red Auerbach and explained how the Miami Heat came from behind to win an NBA Championship victory: "[It happens] when you have the talent, when you have the best guys -- and that's what we have at ESPN."

    "We got our money's worth tonight," Mr. Erhardt quipped as he closed the show and thanked Mr. Walton.
  2. TigerVols

    TigerVols Well-Known Member

    If I'm the Red Sox, I immediately call up ESPN and offer to pay big bucks to sponsor the Yankees page. Ditto Arte Moreno's Angels sponsoring the Dodgers page.

    That would be f'ing hillarious and shows just how assinine ESPN's ideas are of late.
  3. Perry White

    Perry White Active Member

    Thread coming soon: Keep your kids off ESPN.com! :)
  4. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    When I read that. for some reason the first thing I thought of was the movie "Network." The Faye Dunaway character, who was going to redefine how the news is presented, even going so far as to script it and make it like a made-up drama.

    Everyone wants to be innovative and I am sure a bunch of focus groups pointed them to "interactivity" as the way to reach young adults who have grown up in the Internet age. But a certain point, this is all going to get to be too much.

    At its most base level, what makes pro or college sports interesting for spectators is that you are watching the best athletes compete against each other. It isn't about me the fan. It is about what is going on on the field or the court. The game is the show, not the fans.

    Eventually everyone is going to realize two things (at least I hope): 1) if the actual games can't carry fans' interest--not made up shtick--then sports as we know them are doomed. 2) The average person is an idiot. He doesn't have much to offer to everyone else, when it comes to their enjoyment of sports. There is a reason why Gary Smith is Gary Smith, or Mike Vaccaro is Mike Vaccaro. They have a skill and a talent that adds something to the analysis of a game or an issue. Does Joe the accountant, who pulls out his Jets jersey every Sunday, really have anything to offer others? Are people really going to care?

    I could be way off base on this. More and more my instincts about what will fly are wrong. But I really think this idea is going to go the way of those mobile ESPN phones that they have squandered $25 million promoting to sign up a few thousand customers.
  5. Perry White

    Perry White Active Member

    Deadspin had an update where Bill Simmons said he had no idea he was participating in this thing.
  6. BYH

    BYH Active Member

    Rest assured I was on the Internet within seconds voicing my displeasure with Curtis Martin's fumble and proving I could identify every player in Jets history who wore the number 68.

  7. dixiehack

    dixiehack Well-Known Member

    I'm sure the Yankees will be just fine with ESPN not sharing any of Duff Beer's money for being the "Official beer of the New York Yankees on ESPN." ::)
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