When you name your sports blog "AwfulAnnouncing," you've amply demonstrated both an ability to get to the heart of matters and an understandable propensity for dispair. Indeed, it's surprising that this USAToday column wasn't the final push off the ledge:
"Whether it's hyping Dancing...or having Disney-employed celebs drop by the booth, they aren't catering to the just-give-me-the-game crowd. Those people will watch anyway*: ESPN's game Monday, as a sports-themed TV show accessible to lots of people who've never heard of Billy Kilmer, drew the most households in cable TV history....To all who just want SportsCenter to give scores without catchphrases and games without sideshows, forget it."
Well, shit. "Those people will watch anyway" makes it sound so hopeless. So "Thiesman forever!"
But haven't we heard this kind of talk before? Where was it? Oh yeah: "In the August 5, 1996, issue of the New Yorker, David Remnick interviewed Dick Ebersol, president of NBC Sports, and Nicholas Schiavone, NBC director of research, and explored the psychological underpinnings of NBC's intricate strategy to capture the female audience. Remnick cites what he calls Schiavone's programming 'creed'--five principles for a kinder, gentler Olympics--describing it as 'a highly artificial construct, designed for maximum sentiment and ratings.' The results...indicate that, while men will watch the games no matter what, women, who make up 51 percent of the viewing audience, need stories."
Well, bullshit. Because ten years later, "NBC aired hundreds of hours of prime time coverage of this year's Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, but saw the lowest overall ratings since the 1992 games." Women turned to American Idol for their "stories." And men didn't watch "no matter what." The Olympics are now no longer an automatic ratings and advertising winner. Thank you, Mr Schiavone!
Even if ESPN isn't working off exactly the same brief, I think they face similar results. Aren't they taking a ratings gimme and, with the same blind commitment to an ill-advised "strategy," fucking it up for a future generation? It's Monday Night Football -- an institution! -- and in a few years, no one will sit through a Tirico-Hank Williams Jr interview. I think as soon as you start to assume people will watch "no matter what," you've already lost them. It happened to the Olympics. It can happen to football. Unless the NFL steps in.
* All emphasis mine and added to make it look like I had a point. This marks the first such bolding of type on NotBillable and while it's fun to change things up a bit, I'm never -- never -- going to make things more inviting and readable with a photo or two. Yeah I'm off the hydrocodone. Why do you ask?