Before we reach the weekly Sunday media column — we have a Mother’s Day piece planned on ESPN reporter Shelley Smith — here are some things to embrace:
There is conversational value to be found in the latest Bill Simmons’ podcast, No. 210 of his career, by bringing Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal and his own Bryan Curtis from The Ringer together to hash out what they think about the sports landscape — past, present and even future.
It starts with the demise of “The Sports Reporters” on ESPN, gets into the ESPN layoffs, and somehow concludes with Simmons predicting that ESPN will buy The Players Tribune and fold it into The Undefeated.
Maybe. Probably not.
The only regret is the three did not give a “Parting Shot” at the end of this, to giggle at each other’s one liners.
On of the topics hit is ESPN’s commitment to journalism, and even though “The Sports Reporters” is officially gone, “E:60” and “Outside The Lines” starts a combination project with Sunday’s live episode at 6 a.m. on ESPN (repeated throughout the day) hosted by Jeremy Schaap and Bob Ley from a new studio. Both will also give their takes on the sports world at large each week.
Journalism, as we discussed before, is something ESPN wants to continue as it redistributes its resources. “E:60,” which started in Oct., 2007, will continue to focus on profiles, investigations, and off-the-beaten path stories.
“We could not be more thrilled to be moving to our new permanent time slot, 52 weeks a year,” said exec producer Andy Tennant in a press release. “For a decade, the staff at ‘E:60’ has worked tirelessly to bring our viewers the best stories in sports. From our acclaimed investigations, which have made a global impact, to our features and newsmaking interviews, ‘E:60’ has redefined storytelling in TV sports. The decision to go weekly represents a doubling down on this kind of content. Maybe even a tripling down.”
The first episode of the new series will include Schaap doing a feature on Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott as he opens up about his mother and her battle with cancer that ended her life in 2013, a report from Steve Fainaru on the Syrian national soccer team and how the country’s ongoing civil war has affected the team’s bid to compete in the next World Cup, and a piece on artist Dan Gamache, who crafted the custom cleats that will be presented to Derek Jeter as a special gift from New York Yankees during his number retirement ceremony Sunday in the ESPN “Sunday Night Baseball” game (4:30 p.m., with ceremony at 3:30 p.m.)
== At Tuesday’s Disney stockholders meeting, CEO Bob Iger said: “A lot has been said about cost reductions at ESPN. We’re managing that business efficiently. We always have, we always will. Obviously, there’s been a greater need to do it given challenges in the near term, but frankly what we’ve been doing, in terms of scale and size, is not that significant given that ESPN has 8,000 employees and we reduced by 100 employees. I don’t take it lightly but, the number gets these headlines … it wasn’t a particularly significant reduction.”
He also said: “We’re running our business more efficiently. So we’re actually confident in ESPN’s future, we’ve got a tremendous lineup of programs, of products, of live sports. Live sports are still a huge driver of consumption.”
== NBCSN again has daily coverage of the Amgen Tour of California cycling event, starting with Sunday’s first stage in Sacramento at 12:30 p.m. The final stage from Pasadena airs on NBC (KNBC-Channel 4) on May 20 at noon. The broadcast crew: Phil Liggett on play-by-play with analysts Paul Sherwen and Christian Vande Velde, analyst and reporter Jens Voigt, reporter Steve Schlanger and “Inside-the-Race” correspondent Steve Porino reporting on a motorcycle from the course. Continue reading “Sports media notes version 05.10.17: The conversation reports back to ESPN and its new “E:60” Sunday format” »