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Scott Jagow: Let’s talk about something else besides financial disaster. I was reading the latest column from the ESPN ombudsman. It’s Le Anne Schreiber — she used to be an editor at the New York Times. Her column admonishes ESPN for forgetting the fan. It’s time to visit with our business of sports commentator, Diana Nyad. Diana, what exactly does she say?
Diana Nyad: Schreiber’s main point, and this is a direct quote, Scott, she says “ESPN has been so successful at building a better fan track, that viewers who look to sports for escape now often tell me that they need to escape ESPN to enjoy sports.” And one of the great examples, I was culling through the blogging and e-mails that these people were writing in, they said there’s this new ABC show, and of course ABC is ESPN now. It’s just a prime-time, crazy reality show. You know, people jump off giant balls and they get smashed.
Jagow: Yeah, I know. I’ve seen ads for that.
Nyad: Well, you know there’s a big thing on “Sports Center” called The Day’s Top 10. Well when they start putting “Wipeout,” scenes from “Wipeout,” as the Top 10 in order to cross-promote another ESPN product, the fans lose, they say that ESPN loses credibility.
Jagow: Well are there any other networks out there that would like to try to compete with ESPN?
Nyad: You know, that’s a great question. And if were me, if I had the bucks, if I had the power, right now I would launch a 24-hour sports network and call it “We’re There for You.” “We’re there for you the fan.” Like ESPN used to; 25 years ago, they said, you know what, we’re going to disseminate the sports news for you. But with the tremendous rise in their cross-promotion of their own events — and they pay a lot of money. I mean, they just paid $2.5 billion for 15 years rights to the SEC Conference, most of their sporting events. OK, I understand why they want to promote, but I think that their fans out there who just would like to trust that they can go and not always hear what’s been on ESPN, but what’s been in the world of sports.
Jagow: Well, you mentioned what the ombudsman said about this, but what does ESPN say about it.
Nyad: The director of news, who’s a guy named Vince Doria, first of all he defends their service. But then he says, well, OK, I will admit we are in the business of carpet-bombing, he uses that word carpet-bombing, you about information that you can see here. And he says, I agree, we are in the e-business of ESPN.
Jagow: Well, what would you have ESPN do instead? What’s one thing they might do to make this a better situation for fans.
Nyad: You know, if I were Vince Doria, I’d have a production meeting and say, OK, fair enough. There are a few areas where we can service the fan, and not just service our cross-promotion. And the Top 10’s one of them. Why don’t we make that our purest thing. Why don’t we become know for you can count on the fact that the greatest moments in sport every day are treated with honor and beautiful visuals. And we’re not going to put the hot-dog-eating contest on in the Top 10, just because we cover it.
Jagow: All right, Dyana Nyad our business of sports commentator. Thank you.
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