Friday, May 25, 2007

Corporate Synergy Uber Alles

ESPN has devolved to the point now where it is a necessary evil. We watch it, a lot, simply because there is little choice. Despite the increase in excess garbage which has inundated the network, we watch to get our daily fix of all things sports. The title of this site is taken from a quote from ex-Sportscenter anchor Sal Maricano as he was quitting the network, though he was likely referring to the idea of Bristol being such a boring place to be more than the hellish work environment. It accurately sums up our love/hate relationship with ESPN.

Many of us were, understandably, concerned when Disney swooped in and purchased the network along with ABC. That relationship, coupled with the increasingly annoying factor of Sportscenter anchors becoming "personalities" who each felt the need to develop their own shtick ("booyah!"), has helped shape ESPN into the annoying entity it is today.

Two things seen on SportsCenter this week served to underscore how much ESPN has turned into a corporate shill machine that has continued to move away from it's primary function. First, it was deemed necessary to update us on the latest from Dancing With The Stars. Why, one might ask, would a sports highlight show run this? Well, there were two athletes (female boxer Laila Ali and speed skater Apolo Ohno) competing, so it was sports related. The fact that DWTS is an ABC show apparently was entirely coincidental. As a sports fan, I was grateful to receive this vital update in lieu of something trivial like the Royals-Indians game from the night before.

This morning, the innovative folks from Bristol found a way to integrate clips from the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie which, by pure coincidence, opens today, into highlights from the Pirates-Cardinals game. See what they did there? The fact that this mega-blockbuster just happens to be a Disney production was, again, strictly happenstance, and was more a byproduct of the producers' creativity than a shameless product placement.

We understand the need to cross promote, and to tie all your little entities together. Really, we do. But would it kill these soulless empty suits to leave SportsCenter alone, and let it be the show we knew and loved?

I think we all know the answer to that one.

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