Jimmy Traina lead his daily column at SI.com yesterday with some thoughts on the news that Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will meet in a one-on-one round of golf over the Tanksgiving weekend. He wasn’t concerned about whether it would be good TV or who would win. Traina was more intrigued by the fact that the match will be available on pay-per-view.
Golf fans can pay to watch the event through their cable or satellite provider or they can stream it on the B/R Live app. The price hasn’t been announced but Traina doesn’t expect it to be insignificant, writing “I highly doubt it’s going to be 99 cents.” And he expects a full on publicity push as we get closer to the event, noting that the hypehas already started with Phil Mickelson joining Twitter to coincide with this week’s announcement.
They’re going to sell this one-on-one battle as a big deal, when in reality, it’s just a useless exhibition. It’s not a major. It’s not a real tournament. However, it stars the most iconic golfer of all time, so you’re being tricked into thinking you’re getting something good. The reality is, it’s just a TV special.
Traina is convinced that it won’t just be the folks at Bleacher Report or cable and satellite providers rooting for the event to succeed. He says that the whole sports media world wants to see the event generate big profits. “If you pay for it, sports media companies are going to be overjoyed because then they know they have an audience who will actually hand over their money to watch stuff like this,” and Traina is worried about where that might lead.
The danger here (and I use that word loosely, because this really isn’t that important in the grand scheme of life) is that this will open the floodgates for sports media outlets to eventually experiment with putting good things on pay-per-view. It’s not going to stop with Tiger-Phil if that’s a success. And I’m not saying you’re going to see an NFL playoff game or the NBA Draft or a college football playoff game on pay-per-view next year or the year after, but if you don’t think the leagues and networks, especially ESPN which just launched a streaming network, have that idea in the back of their heads for down the road, you’re not paying attention.
ESPN+ already has exclusive rights to a number of lower tier college football and basketball games. That service, and others like it, typically offer a lot of content for a lower monthly price ($4.99 in ESPN+’s case). Major boxing and MMA cards can get expensive. The Mayweather/McGregor fight, for instance, cost $99.95 to watch in HD. Would the Tiger and Phil extravaganza be priced similarly? If so, what would that mean football fans would have to pay to watch an NFL playoff game should that league switch to a pay-per-view model in the future?
Count Traina amongst the few sports media professionals encouraging fans to save their money.
At some point the sports fan, as a consumer, has to say no. We get dumped on constantly. Games ending past midnight on the East Coast. A billion commercials during every sporting event. Offensive ticket prices. More offensive concession prices. Even more offensive prices for parking.
Now we’re going to be tested to see which sporting events we’re willing to pay for. If you shell out the money for Tiger-Phil, you’ll be giving sports media companies incentive to take advantage of you again. And again. And again. Just say no.
Nick Wright: The Best Version of First Things First is What We’re Doing Now
“I used to approach the TV show with the perspective of I have to prove how smart I am to the audience every single day.”
Nick Wright has been a co-host on First Things First on FS1 for the last five-and-a-half years. The show has evolved over the years and according to Wright, he has evolved as a broadcaster from the time he got cut from doing play-by-play at WAER in Syracuse to now.
Wright was a guest on The Colin Cowherd Podcast this week and he said that when he first appeared on television, he wanted the audience to think he had all the answers, but the mindset has changed for him and he said the new version of the show that he does with Kevin Wildes and Chris Broussard every weekday is the most successful version of the show.
“When I got on TV, I think the first year maybe, I thought the job was to always have all the answers. To have the facts exactly right, to never be wrong. I’ve now done the show for five-and-a-half years. By a country mile, the most successful version of the show is the one I’m doing right now — this moment — with Wildes and Broussard. It’s the funniest and that’s why.
“I used to approach the TV show with the perspective of I have to prove how smart I am to the audience every single day. Now I approach it as our entire goal is to put on a show that people smile while they are watching and have a good time and that has enough meat to it where it is not all empty calories. There’s got to be the information, there’s got to be the analysis, but there’s also got to be a lot of bells and whistles and funny stuff and guys messing with each other and that’s what works. That took me a while to figure out.”
The only time when Wright didn’t think he had to prove how smart he was when he first appeared on TV was when he would appear on The Herd as Cowherd’s guest and he had a goal in mind whenever he would appear on the show.
“Early in our relationship, I was really, really trying to impress you and I wanted to make you laugh. Every time I came on, I was like ‘It’s successful if I made Colin laugh’. I was too stupid to realize I should just be trying to make the audience laugh, too… That was the best version of me at the time. I felt like you knew I was smart, so I wasn’t trying to prove it to you. I could be the best version of myself.”
While Wright knows he is not a traditional broadcaster, he mentioned to Cowherd that there is one skill set he definitely knows he has.
“The point is I’m not a great broadcaster, like a traditional broadcaster. I can’t read off a teleprompter, but there is a specific thing I can do, which is confidently argue, whether it’s 1-on-1 with my wife or in front of a million people.”
Even though Wright got cut from doing play-by-play at Syracuse, he told Cowherd he was doing talk shows at the station still and it led him to where he is today.
“I was fortunate that I was already working on the talk-show staff. Growing up, I thought I wanted to do play-by-play, but what I wanted to do was color commentary. I would watch the NBA on NBC with Bob Costas, Bill Walton, and Steve ‘Snapper’ Jones and what I wanted to do was the color, but I didn’t realize you can’t do that unless you are a former player or a former coach. They aren’t hiring me to do commentary
“I was crushed, but it made me fully pivot to talk shows. Now at WAER, the talk show studio is named after me and my picture is on the wall. I am a Hall of Famer there. Bob Costas, Marv Albert, Nick Wright, those are the three studios there.”
Ricky Keeler is a reporter for BSM with a primary focus on sports media podcasts and national personalities. He is also an active podcaster with an interest in pursuing a career in sports media. You can find him on Twitter @Rickinator555 or reach him by email at RickJKeeler@gmail.com.
Outside the Lines Won’t Return to ESPN Weekend Schedule
The show, which debuted in 1990, aired as a daily show from 2003 to 2019 and aired a Sunday-edition from 2000 to 2017.
ESPN has decided to not return Outside the Lines to its weekend lineup, ending the show’s linear television run.
A report from John Ourand of Sports Business Journal claims ESPN told OTL staffers that the show wouldn’t return to the network after the Super Bowl.
The show, which debuted in 1990, aired as a daily show from 2003 to 2019 and aired a Sunday-edition from 2000 to 2017. Outside the Lines was often regarded as the “moral compass” of ESPN, and was often the source of some of the more investigative reporting employed by the network.
Outside the Lines — which was airing at 9:00 AM on Saturday mornings — averaged 303,000 viewers in the timeslot. Meanwhile, SportsCenter: AM has seen an average audience of 572,000 in the same window.
The Outside the Lines brand will continue being utilized during the Noon ET SportsCenter, as well as ESPN digital platforms, including the network’s YouTube page.
Jeremy Schaap will continue to host the Outside the Lines segments during SportsCenter, but will also be the host of a new iteration of The Sports Reporters that will air on ESPN’s YouTube channel. Schaap’s father, Dick, was the host of the ESPN Sunday morning program from 1988 until his death in 2001. The show aired on ESPN from 1988 to 2017.
CBS: Calling Meeting With Tony Romo ‘Intervention’ is ‘Complete Mischaracterization’
“We meet regularly with our on-air talent.”
An opening question in broadcasting circles is ‘What happened to Tony Romo?’, with even CBS reportedly pondering the issue.
During The Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast earlier this week, The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand claimed CBS attempted “an intervention” with its lead NFL analyst.
The intended mission of several alleged meetings with CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus and CBS NFL producer Jim Rikhoff was to return Romo to his previous heights, which were widely regarded as the best NFL analyst in the business.
CBS Sports has responded to the insinuation that the meetings would be classified as an “intervention” with a strong denial.
“To call this an intervention is a complete mischaracterization, we meet regularly with our on-air talent,” CBS Sports spokeswoman Jen Sabatelle told Marchand.
Marchand added that CBS Sports officials plan to attempt to rectify the issues it sees with Romo again this offseason. Romo — who signed a 10-year, $180 million contract with CBS Sports in 2020 — is slated to call Super Bowl LVIII in 2024 with Jim Nantz.