ESPN Affiliate Delays Podcasts; Announcer Rips Into His Bosses For Cluelessness

from the so-shortsighted dept

Ah, the shortsightedness of old school entertainment companies knows no bounds apparently. The latest is Disney-owned ESPN ESPN 980, a local radio station that uses the ESPN name, who seems to think, foolishly, that making it more difficult for fans to listen to its radio programming will somehow be better for them. The details are that ESPN 980 used to release podcasts for its shows, making listening convenient for people who either wanted to time delay their listening, or who couldn't listen on a radio very easily. But, because ESPN 980 execs only focus on radio ratings as the key metric, they made the shortsighted calculation that they should make it harder to listen to the podcasts, in the misguided hope that it might drive more listeners to the radio version. The execs there claim that this is how it needs to "protect its ratings." Of course, that's ridiculous. If people can't listen the way they want to, they'll listen to something else. ESPN 980 is deluding itself if it thinks that people will still bend to ESPN 980 rather than expecting ESPN 980 to bend to them.

Not surprisingly, the on air talent seems to get this a lot more than the folks making the decisions. While the station insisted that star radio host Tony Kornheiser "understands" why ESPN 980 is doing this, and isn't upset about it, listeners to Kornheiser's show apparently sensed his views were a bit different. As noted by Dan Steinberg:
ďThe policy is gonna kill the show,Ē [Kornheiser] said, with typical subtlety and restraint. ďItís simply going to kill the show....That is the problem. Youíre listening to this a day late. Thatís the solution around here, the solution to getting more people listening live. And by the way, thereís a great glee with which I am told that my ratings are bad. Thereís a great glee. The people around here seem to think that this is charming, and that if I only did what they wanted, everything would be right in the world.

ďBut it doesnít work that way. It doesnít work that way, because of the way audio is delivered to America. Itís delivered on demand. And if when you demand it you canít get it, youíre not going to listen to it.

ďHereís whatís going to happen in the next five or 10 years, boys and girls. Thereís not gonna be football on television any more. Itís all gonna be in your computer. Thatís the way itís gonna work. Itíll be brought to you by people like Google, brought to you by people who are search engine people, and I know nothing about this. Thereís no way to make any money any more doing it the old way. The old way is not just old, much like me ó it is dead.

ďThatís the old way. People donít want that any more. Theyíre not going to sit around and wait for things....The people who run radio stations, theyíre apparently not adapting to the new culture and donít truly understand how it works and what people wantÖ Management believes differently than I believe. I still do the show. Iím not running away from the show. I just wish it were more accessible, quicker, to more people.Ē
He seems to get it a lot more than the people who are paid to get it.

Update: Aha. Turns out that this was the local station, ESPN 980 -- who merely licenses the ESPN name -- who made this decision. And, it appears that ESPN itself makes it easier to get access to the show. Blame goes to the local radio station.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    anonymous, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 4:06am

    wasting his breath! he speaks sense. he speaks the truth. trouble is, it isn't the truth that the the execs want to hear. the next thing we'll hear about this guy is that he and/or the show has been axed completely because he dared to speak his mind against the outdated views of idiots controlling the purse strings.

     

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      The eejit (profile), Oct 10th, 2011 @ 4:25am

      Re:

      Much like politics, entertainment in its current form is going the way of the dodo, the wooly mammoth and the striped biology taunters.

       

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      identicon
      Mr. Oizo, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 11:22am

      Re:

      The problem ,I say the problem, is also that he. I say, that he, does never, ever. does he seem to get. Get to that end of tha. A sentence ending indeed. Nice that would be. Is that what talk. Show hosts talk up there in the states ?

       

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    Jon, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 4:35am

    Problem is this. They need those ratings to sell adspots. The content doesnt matter to them, their revenue comes from selling adspots. If they have no way to accurately measure the number of podcast listeners, then they have no numbers to use in selling adspots. IE Youre ad will be heard by about 100,000 listeners or so because we know from the ratings thats how many people listen.

    A lot of people still beleive this stuff is about content and its not. They arent interested in whether or not the content is good or not, theyre interested in whether its gets lost of listeners that they can say are listening in order to sell ads.

    Figure out a way to track podcast listeners, then make it so they cant FF through the ads and they will be included in the metric and be available again.

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 4:47am

      Re:

      That can't be the reason, it is easier to track file transfers than it is to track radio listeners.

      Also you can change the ads on demand if you wanted too, if you reached a 100 downloads that would cover what some advertiser bought and they could post another ad in place for the next 100, you can even use that by region.

      Now the great risk for that is encryptions and proxies that will become the de facto which will make next to impossible to know where people are, but you can still count the downloads, but that may not be a problem since smartphones exploded on the market and are pocket computers, those you can count and have even more information.

      https://market.android.com/search?q=sports+news&so=1&c=apps

       

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      Richard (profile), Oct 10th, 2011 @ 5:12am

      Re:

      They need those ratings to sell adspots. The content doesnt matter to them, their revenue comes from selling adspots. If they have no way to accurately measure the number of podcast listeners, then they have no numbers to use in selling adspots.

      You say this in a world where Google exists?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 5:18am

      Re:

      "Youre ad will be heard by about 100,000 listeners or so because we know from the ratings thats how many people listen."

      Honest question: how do we determine that number with traditional radio? Honestly, I can't imagine how they come up with that number without some massive amount of guesswork.

       

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        Jon, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 7:42am

        Re: Re:

        It is a lot of guesswork. Mighty buzzard a few posts above is correct. They rather guess a much higher number to sell then have a lower more accurate number.

         

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      Spaceboy (profile), Oct 10th, 2011 @ 5:37am

      Re:

      If ESPN/Disney can't figure out how many people subscribe to or download their podcasts, they deserve to fail hard. And since ads are part of the show, people already expect them, so there isn't a problem having them in the podcast. This isn't like DVR and TV where people use it to skip ads, they just can't listen to it when it's on because of work or whatever.

      ESPN is worried about ratings, but not because of ads. It's trying to prop the ratings up so they can collect more money from the affiliates that syndicate the show. Each affiliate runs its own local ads in addition to whatever ads are inserted nationally. Because of this, the various affiliates can't insert their ads in the podcast.

      Sounds like an opportunity for someone at ESPN to generate more revenue by inserting a completely different set of ads into the podcast...

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 8:04am

        Re: Re:

        This points to an interesting conclusion.

        When talking about obsolete methods of content distribution on radio/cable/whatever, it's not just that one single isolated thing has become obsolete, but rather that a network of things has become obsolete. Backwards-thinking gatekeepers think "we can't ditch A because B and C and D all rely on it".

        If it were only a single thing that had become obsolete, like a distribution medium, it could be ditched and replaced in the current model of doing things, but the whole network of local affiliates and advertising and cable network deals and release windows and region restrictions all rely on each other so heavily that it's impossible to get rid of any one thing in the model without getting rid of it all.

        If, for example, someone wants to put their TV show on the internet, they either have to go to absurd efforts to re-implement all the old barriers, like region restrictions and regional advertising for affiliates so that they can keep those things involved in the model, and end up with such a shoddy and artificially limited product that people won't care to buy, or they have to ditch *all* of those things and really develop something new.

        The people in the media business who make these decisions are largely just not comfortable with making such a leap into a new way of doing things, and it manifests in silly ways like this nonsense about delaying a podcast.

         

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          Jay (profile), Oct 10th, 2011 @ 8:25am

          Re: Re: Re:

          It must put a fear in them that the talk show host might just up and move to a home business, put up a new podcast, and leave out the ads entirely.

          Think about how many ads they would sell if the host left to do his own thing.

          Someone really needs a look at how much the internet disrupts their business models.

           

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          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 6:13pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Or people just starting doing it globally and attracting the viewers and listeners to more modern channels like, The Guild is doing.

          They have no geo-restrictions, the content is free and advertisement is growing on the show.

          Also there are places like Revision 3, Youtube, Vimeo etc.

          They are not competenting anymore with "pirates" they are competing now with honest to God original content producers and if they insist on those windows and old arrangements they will be killed.

           

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 4:36am

     

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    justok (profile), Oct 10th, 2011 @ 4:44am

    How accurate are ratings anyways?

    Are the rating numbers actually realistic? Seems downloads are more countable in many ways.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 4:51am

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 4:53am

    I wonder when the first live stream of some fanatic group will make it through the air to the internet and beat ESPN.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 5:18am

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 5:27am

    http://www.freepatentsonline.com/y2010/0011389.html

    More scary is the patents people are filling on those things.

    * Dynamic insertion of targeted sponsored video messages into Internet multimedia broadcasts
    * BILLING ADJUSTMENT SYSTEM FOR MULTIMEDIA CONTENT
    (is this metered TV, radio, etc?)
    * Home movies
    * Transmitting caller ID within a digital stream
    * Consolidating video-on-demand (VOD) services with multi-room personal video recording (MR-PVR) services
    (Will they start charging per room?)
    * On demand system and method using dynamic broadcast scheduling
    * System and method for miniguide implementation
    * Digital TV broadcast signal receiving system and outdoor appliance used therein
    * Live broadcast interview conducted between studio booth and interviewer at remote location
    * INTERACTIVE MUSIC AND VIDEO DELIVERY METHOD AND SYSTEM
    * Interactive live events

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 5:30am

    As a listener, it's technically not the "disney owned" ESPN that's the problem, though that would likely destroy your anti-corporation narrative.

    It's the Daniel Snyder owned ESPN 980 that delays the podcast. They only have a contract to use the ESPN name and carry some shows. The Kornheiser show is wholly supported by the local ESPN 980 station. They're the ones that are delaying the podcast.

    ESPN, the Disney owned company, actually puts out a slightly abbreviated version of the podcast a couple of hours after it airs. It takes out all of the sponsor talk and the music that plays.

    And there are unofficial versions of the show that pop up a little after the show airs. I actually made one for a few weeks that was literally up 15 minutes after the show was on, sans ads. I just didn't feel like putting in the effort any more.

    While your posts are often long, could you at least spend a little time researching them on occasion? You'd come off as far less of an asshat if you did so.

     

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      iamtheky (profile), Oct 10th, 2011 @ 6:32am

      Re:

      indeed, not to mention the corporate ESPN products are generally streamed live in both audio and video and have podcasts up very quickly. That aside he will recap all his arguments on PTI anyway so thats only a 4-5 hour delay.

       

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 10th, 2011 @ 10:49am

      Re:

      As a listener, it's technically not the "disney owned" ESPN that's the problem, though that would likely destroy your anti-corporation narrative.

      I have no anti-corporate narrative. I have a pro-corporate narrative. I have an anti-stupid decision narrative.

      It's the Daniel Snyder owned ESPN 980 that delays the podcast. They only have a contract to use the ESPN name and carry some shows. The Kornheiser show is wholly supported by the local ESPN 980 station. They're the ones that are delaying the podcast.

      See, now that's useful info, the kind of useful info we expect people in the comments to provide, and thus we've updated the post with that info.

      ESPN, the Disney owned company, actually puts out a slightly abbreviated version of the podcast a couple of hours after it airs. It takes out all of the sponsor talk and the music that plays.

      Again, useful info. Post updated.

      While your posts are often long, could you at least spend a little time researching them on occasion? You'd come off as far less of an asshat if you did so.

      I do spend a fair amount of time researching them, but sometimes we get stuff wrong and sometimes things aren't clear. And that's when we expect people to come into the comments and provide additional info. This is a discussion site. And, you'd come off as far less of an asshat if you pointed out the relevant facts without turning it into an attack on me. Just saying.

       

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 5:32am

    You can actually get the Tony kornheiser show same day from corporate ESPN. It's the local station that delAYS IT.

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 10th, 2011 @ 5:48am

    Color me not surprised

    This is typical Boo-Yah Network nonsense. What people have to keep in mind is that ESPN is far closer to a movie studio than a news organization. They are not journalism. They are marketing.

    This is a release window, pure and simple. Get your sports information from a place without a stake in the game, such as your local paper, blog, or radio show....

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 6:26am

    It's a nice rant, sadly he doesn't seem to have a clue about the business side. Technically, it could be on computer already. Reality is that there isn't anywhere near enough money to do it that way, and unless the licensing fees for football drop 90%, there never will be either.

    It will only change when there is the proper ability to sell access online.

     

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    Butcherer79 (profile), Oct 10th, 2011 @ 6:54am

    a set up?

    Is it not entirely possible that this fella broadcast this 'rant' at the request of ESPN, in the knowledge that controversy sells?
    Are we really to believe that a company of ESPN's size would willingly keep on a DJ who openly slags off the bosses?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 8:29am

      Re: a set up?

      Howard Stern?

       

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        Butcherer79 (profile), Oct 11th, 2011 @ 12:54am

        Re: Re: a set up?

        My point exactly, rave reviews for allegedly rebelling against "the system". It's more conceivable, to me, that a bit of dissent resulted in better figures, so the big bosses actively encouraged it whilst publicly voicing against it to keep the pretence (and listener figures) up.

         

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    identicon
    Loki, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 7:08am

    Eh, it's not really a big deal to me how they do or do not time shift sports events.

    Of course, that might be because I stopped watching sports about five years ago because it conflicted with my schedule too much.

    Don't even miss it anymore. Don't care who's playing. Don't care who won or lost.

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 7:09am

    No, "Spaceboy", it's the advertising system that's failing.

    If people can skip them on a podcast, they will. So, no effect from advertising. No money from advertising, no "free" entertainment.

    Kornheiser says: "Thereís no way to make any money any more doing it the old way. The old way is not just old, much like me ó it is dead."

    I'm pretty sure he means advertising income is drying up. He wouldn't likely say so directly because of a general taboo in talking about that, but his words do fit my thesis.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 7:31am

      Re: No, "Spaceboy", it's the advertising system that's failing.

      "fit my thesis."

      Is that what you kids call homework these days?

       

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    dpatac (profile), Oct 10th, 2011 @ 7:32am

    American Horror Story

    So I downloaded the AHS because I heard good reviews and I generally like FX shows but between them and Comcast there is at least 1+ week delay in seeing something that has already been broadcast. Part of the reason I stopped watching Wilfred was because I could not get it on demand, but maybe it was not that good so I didn't look for it. So now I am up to date with AHS and can/will watch it with commercials should I be home - bit if not I will download it again w/o any commercials - It is this backward thinking that really limits some companies.

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 8:03am

    Delaying Podcasts is similar to Bank of America. Instead of using a popular service(debit) to make itself money, it is discouraging use of a popular service

    9/30 episode of Tony Kornheiser show.

    -They stopped paying guests and only do about 160 shows/year now.

     

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    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Oct 10th, 2011 @ 9:39am

    This all seems very familiar to me. The people who have power have no clue. The people who have clue have no power. And the people with power and no clue don't listen to the people with clue but no power and then blame them when things go wrong.

     

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    timmaguire42 (profile), Oct 10th, 2011 @ 9:56am

    Disney thinks people need to be encouraged to listen to Sports live rather than delayed? Is there really not one single person at Disney who knows a damn thing about sports?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2011 @ 9:57am

    why adjust the distribution process to fit the ratings system? shouldn't you adjust the rating system to better represent how the program is being distributed?

     

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