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Former Ombudsman Rips ESPN For Ending Grantland

Jason Barrett

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ESPN has been roundly criticized for shutting down the sports and pop-culture website Grantland, which launched in 2011.

The latest comes from sports journalist Robert Lipsyte, who served as ESPN’s ombudsman in 2013 and 2014, and he doesn’t hold back.

He also went too far.

In a column for The Nation, Lipsyte says farewell to Grantland, which he refers to as “ESPN’s home for actual sports journalism” and “a beacon in a field of sludge.”

And those are just in the headline.

Lipsyte does spend much of the column praising what Grantland was and how they did it. But there was still room to criticize the self-proclaimed Worldwide Leader in Sports:

Last Friday, ESPN announced it was chopping this proud pinky off its ham hand, only a few months after declaring its commitment to Grantland despite having just fired Simmons. Without its beneficiary and editor-in-chief, ESPN had no need for an entertaining and prestigious niche that made little or no money … Earlier last week, ESPN had laid off more than 300 employees. It was facing an annual $1.4 billion bill for NBA rights alone. Perhaps that made it too hard to justify maintaining its class act.

Lipsyte goes on to criticize what ESPN has become:

On a daily basis, ESPN’s main energy seems directed toward cranking out trade rumors and coaching change speculation to keep fans engaged, while its top broadcasters engage in squabbling packaged as debate … Perhaps it’s simply naïve to expect a network that actually owns bowl games, has entire channels devoted to major college sports conferences, and runs a revolving door for sports figures who want to try their voice at broadcasting, also maintain a reliable journalistic presence.

This has been the focus of much of the criticism of ESPN’s decisions to shut down Grantland. The network has been attacked for jettisoning a strong journalistic presence while at the same time keeping things like the highly criticized “First Take,” a sports debate show on ESPN2 with partners-in-loudness, Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith.

Read the rest of the article at Business Insider which is where it was originally published

 

Sports TV News

3.72 Million Tune In To See LeBron James Break Scoring Record

Jordan Bondurant

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Getty Images

Lakers star LeBron James surpassed the NBA’s all-time scoring record on Tuesday night, and TNT benefitted from the milestone ratings wise.

According to Sports Media Watch, Tuesday night’s game averaged 2.98 million viewers. That figure made it TNT’s biggest regular season audience in over two years.

The broadcast peaked at 3.72 million around 11:45 p.m. when James passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the record.

Reporting also indicated that the game was the number one single-network program on TV in key demographics.

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Sports TV News

Disney Makes ESPN Independent Division In Corporate Restructuring

Jordan Bondurant

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ESPN

Disney is in the process of reorganizing and restructuring the company, and details have emerged about the company’s plans for ESPN.

Deadline reported on Wednesday that ESPN will be one of three standalone segments comprising Disney. Entertainment and Parks, Experiences & Products are the other two segments.

The reorganization comes amid the exit of former CEO Bob Chapek and the re-entry of CEO Bob Iger. As one of Iger’s first moves back running Disney, he announced a restructuring of Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution.

It was also reported that Jimmy Pitaro will continue as the president of ESPN.

In total, more than 7,000 jobs will be eliminated after the restructuring.

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Sports TV News

Roger Goodell: ‘Wouldn’t Surprise Me’ To See Thursday Night Football Move to Flex Scheduling

“Not today, but it’ll certainly be something that’s on our horizon.”

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Thursday Night Football

In 2023, Monday Night Football will join Sunday Night Football in having the ability to flex NFL games into its window. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday Night Football could someday join that elite club.

During his “State of the League” speech Wednesday, Goodell said Thursday Night Football having the ability to flex matchups “wouldn’t at all surprise me”.

“Not today, but it’ll certainly be something that’s on our horizon,” the NFL Commissioner said.

ESPN bargained for the ability to move higher profile games into Monday Night Football during its negotiations with the league for the next television contract that begins this upcoming season.

NBC has long held the ability to shift a select number of games from earlier windows into the Sunday Night Football primetime slot.

Amazon Prime Video just completed the first of an 11-year contract that sees the streaming platform spend nearly $1 billion per year on the Thursday Night Football package.

One of the largest storylines of Amazon’s debut season with the NFL was the near-constant ridicule from play-by-play announcer Al Michaels over the lackluster TNF schedule. Michaels made headlines over several weeks for his candor on the lack of interesting matchups, going as far as to joke that if the schedule didn’t improve he would retire.

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