Media notes version 08.22.18 revised: The Athletic flex in L.A. has the potential to do some good business, but at what cost?


In response to our earlier version of Media Notes 08.22.18, we have updated with new information/stories and commentary, revised at 9 a.m. 08.24.18:

We’ve been asked recently for an opinion about the progress of The Athletic, which has recently started up a Los Angeles beachhead and hired away some of the local sportswriters working in the newspaper game.
Would you like to work there? Perhaps. Have they contacted you? Naw, not really. Have you reached out to anyone? Well, who would that be?
There’s not really a fine line between a mob of people running at your business with fiery torches, and an Olympic athlete running through the streets carrying a flaming torch of hope and cooperation.
Maybe these particular tweets lately sum it up for us:

We got a notice recently that our $59.99 year-long subscription to The Athletic comes up Sept. 12.
We declined renewal.
Not even at $9.99 a month. It’s IMG_1161based on past consumption, future expected use and projected value of recent hirings. We can’t really justify the expense at the moment.
Not even for a media columnist who might normally get this comped by the publication, or have it re-embursed by the company we work for.
We actually bought into the concept. Now we’re opting out.
Then there’s this the tweet we have saved and wondered why it even came back at us in the first place. Last fall, we tweeted out our dismay over a sloppy rah-rah piece they purchased from freelancer Molly “The Best Team Money Can Buy” Knight during the Dodgers-Cubs playoffs. We could link it here, but … why?
That reply above came from a gent at the Chicago bureau named Jon Greenberg (and, yes, we’ve been hanging onto this screenshot for just the right occasion).
Thanks, Jon. We appreciate the nice snappy comeback. Almost felt we got topped by it for an instant.
Thing is, I was also a paying customer. I was part of your core audience, even if you think no one outside of Chicago cares about Chicago sports.

A updated drill down into this:
First, my media partner Steve Lowery and I get into this discussion on our GameTakes app podcast linked here.
Second, we came across this tweet/story that may be the positive outcome of The Athletic’s presence:

Third, check out this story produced by about how the Washington Post talent has resisted overtures from The Athletic about setting up shop in their backyard. It contains this quote:
The Athletic is either a force that’s going to change sports media forever, or, perhaps more likely, a racket perpetuated by excitable venture capital dudes who are going after an artificially inflated valuation by paying top dollar for mediocre-to-good beat reporters whose followings are largely a function of their previously existing platforms, and by making attention-grabbing hires of sportswriting relics of the 1990

Finally, here’s the New York Times framing of this story from Friday’s post, which contains this insight:

We continue to monitor because we want to see how this affects the sports media landscape, locally and nationally, and if it changes readers’ habits.



ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro (Photo: The Associated Press)

At a political rally Tuesday afternoon, the current President of the United States decided it was as good a time as any to besmirch ESPN:
“It was just announced by ESPN that rather than defending our anthem — our beautiful, beautiful national anthem and defending our flag — they’ve decided that they just won’t broadcast when they play the national anthem,” Donald Trump said, sparking a chorus of boos from the audience.
“We don’t like that … The ESPN thing was terrible.”
Wednesday, Trump followed it up with an email petition encouraging a boycott of the all-sports network.
So, there’s that.
Then there are the facts about the story he seems to be referencing. One that has been initially reported one way and somehow twisted into a few different directions since then, as well documented here:

Here’s how the Washington Post correctly framed this story when the quote from new ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro was extracted out of a large media gathering at the network’s Bristol, Conn., studios on Aug. 17:

Pitaro also has told the league that ESPN does not plan to air the national anthem ahead of its Monday night telecasts. The policy is not a change from previous seasons, but the network articulated its plans directly to the league for the first time.
“They have not asked,” Pitaro said. “But we have proactively just as a courtesy and as good partners let them know what our plans are.”
Asked about Pitaro’s comments about the national anthem, Stephanie Druley, ESPN’s senior vice president for event and studio production, noted that the policy could be adjusted if news warranted, but said, “We’ve seen data — fans want the game. That’s where we will keep our focus.”

ESPN has not responded. Not that it has to. Probably best to leave it alone.
Try repeating what it has already said, and it’s likely to get mangled even more, look like a sad walkback, and get skewered for no reason again.
Seriously, what’s the proper way to report this story?
Start with accuracy.
Also during that ESPN group interview, Pitaro was asked what he thinks is the biggest misconception about the network:
“That we are a political organization. Because we are not. We are a sports media company. We are always going to cover the intersection between sports and politics, sports and culture … When the Eagles are disinvited to the White House, we are going to cover that. When someone takes a knee, if we think it’s newsworthy, we are going to cover it. Our partners across the industry understand that. But covering sports in an exemplary fashion is our focus, our priority. That’s not going to change.”
Pardon this interruption, but we may have not agreed with some policy at ESPN in the past, from this, that and the other things (fill in the blanks).
Yet, when your policy hasn’t changed from its original intent, and you only bring it up so that you’re clear on what you’re not trying to do, and that gets picked up as a story that picks and chooses which words to punctuate to the population, then it’s just a poor reflection on the inner-workings of the media.
As the New York Times points out, “ESPN and other networks that televise the N.F.L. have not generally shown the anthem, often airing commercials during that time instead.” Also: “The networks have sometimes shown the anthem live during their broadcasts. ESPN did so on ‘Monday Night Football’ three times last season.”
Probably because it was newsworthy that particular week.
It’s kind of simple to check. Verify. Check again. Verify again. Report. Check again.
Or, just say things and hope no one follows up on it.


*As we’ve written before about the media impact LeBron James has made in this NBA offseason, one of the first tangible pieces of that comes from it is the debut of “The Shop” on HBO, debuting Tuesday at 11 p.m.
The newest Laker taped the episode recently in a West Hollywood barber shop with business partner Maverick Carter and a lineup of rappers Snoop Dogg and Vince Staples, NFL players Odell Beckham Jr., and Michael Bennett, NBA star Draymond Green, stand-up comic Jerrod Carmichael, comedian/retired “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart and the Sparks’ Candace Parker.
HBO says “The Shop” will give viewers “ an unprecedented barbershop experience, which for many provides a sanctuary for spirited, free-flowing discussions. The series will gather distinguished individuals who can speak honestly on sports, music, pop culture, world events, business and other culturally relevant topics.”
James and his media team created the show for its Uniterrupted online platform, co-sponsored with Turner’s Bleacher Report and Warner Bros. studios.
Here’s the first taste:


*Thursday narks the end of the line for the nine-year run of ESPN’s “SportsNation,” something branded as a way to have high-profile ESPNers host a show with a branding device that … appeared to colatate opinions and hot takes provided by the viewing audience? We aren’t really sure because, honestly, we rarely watched even though we seem to enjoy an platform Marcellus Wiley is part of. And that’s the problem. He left the company to join Fox Sports. That was after Michelle Beadle also left the shot to join the “Get Up!” thing now playing in the AMs. The show launched in 2009 with Beadle and Colin Cowherd and, of course, he’s been long gone as well. ESPN people decided the show had run its course. “This is not an assessment of the show’s current staff,” said Norby Williamson, the ESPN executive VP and executive editor for studio production, effectively lying in a press release. “It was performing OK.”
With this move comes more chances starting on Tuesday, Sept. 11, where “High Noon” (which airs at 9 a.m. PDT), that film noir-looking thing with Bomani Jones and Pablo Torre, now shifts to 4 p.m. EDT/1 p.m. PDT and it trimmed in half from an hour to just a half-hour. Then another “SportsCenter” fills in the noon-to-1 p.m. EDT/9-to-10 a.m. PDT window.
Meanwhile, at KSPN-AM (710) …
The promos have already started about some programming shifting that starts Tuesday, Sept. 4, once college football and the NFL kicks into gear. LZ Granderson, who had been on “Sports Nation,” returns to the early morning 6-to-10 a.m. show with Keyshawn Johnson and, now, Travis Rodgers, who had been in the afternoons with Wiley.
Jorge Sedano, who made up the third wheel of that morning show, is moved to a 3:30-to-6 p.m. slot after Mason and Ireland now, extending from noon-to-3:30 p.m. Sedano will have rotating co-hosts. As ESPN announced it…



*Above is what you see when you flip on Spectrum Deportes. Nice job finding it, by the way, on your TV menu considering how buried it has always been.
Last Wednesday marked the end of the line for the all-Spanish language arm of Spectrum SportsNet, which featured games by the Lakers and Galaxy without the SAP button – with real broadcasters speaking in the tongue that is almost the official language of Los Angeles.
“It’s disappointing that it didn’t work out, because Spectrum and the Lakers had the best hopes for it,” said Tim Harris, the Lakers’ chief operating officer for the last seven years after spending 11 seasons as the team’s head of marketing. “The numbers didn’t bear it out.”
We had the breaking news of the channel’s demise back on July 31, after hearing from several network broadcasters who had been told they would no longer be doing games. One of them was Adrian Garcia-Marquez, who has since tweeted out:

The focus of Spectrum now is to launch an all-English news channel, which was also reported at the time, and the Los Angeles Times has followed up on.


*From our Los Angeles Times contribution of the week:




*A tech industry publication called The Information reports, via an excerpt on the Sports Business Daily, that Fox execs have “discussed the possibility of buying back” the 22 regional sports networks that Disney is supposed to sell if it wants to complete it multi-billion-dollar deal with 21st Century Fox. The nets, which include Fox Sports West, Prime Ticket and Fox Sports San Diego, could also be put up for auction, with the Sinclair Broadcast Group, which recently took over Tennis Channel, reportedly salivating over them.
*Mike Tirico gets to be the new studio host for NBC’s “Football Night in America,” replacing Dan Patrick who was there from 2008 through last season at the network broadcast center in Stamford, Conn.
*More details about a pay-per-view golf match between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson: WarnerMedia’s Turner division has the distribution rights to the 18-hole event on Thanksgiving weekend at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, a winner-take-all $9 million match.  Turner’s Bleacher Report Live will have it live stream at a PPV fee to be announced later. DirecTV and U-verse will have it on-demand and HBO allowed to do the “24/7” reality series leading up to it.
*Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts and Evan Washburn have CBS’ national broadcast of the Chargers’ exhibition game at StubHub Center against New Orleans on Saturday, 5 p.m., KCBS-Channel 2. The Eagle-Fouts-Wasburn team also has the Chargers’ Sept. 9 1:05 p.m. regular-season opener at home against Kansas City as well as the Chargers-Rams game from the Coliseum in Week 3 (Sept. 23, 1:05 p.m.)
*Week 1 of Prime Ticket’s high school football game focuses on Centennial or Corona at Orange Lutheran with Sam Farber, John Jackson and Chris Rix (Friday, 7:30 p.m.) The four 7 p.m. games: JSerra at Calabasas (Dennis Ackerman, Brock Vereen), Narbonne at Long Beach Poly (David Gascon, Jeff Tolcher), Santa Margarita at Mission Viejo (Taylor Quellman, Peter Koch) and Chaminade at Paraclete (David Caldwell and Tony Moskal)


It’s not true.
But what is accurate: Thursday marks Kobe Bryant’s 40th birthday. NBA TV has a blowout of programming to make the occasion. See this link.

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