On Thursday, July 28, I had the opportunity to go to ESPN to take part in a mini-focus group involving several producers and executives from the network. Along with your humble blogger, also invited to take part were Rachel Cohen of the Associated Press who has written many sports media stories and Pete Dougherty, full-time sports media writer for the Albany Times Union. All three of us had the opportunity to give our opinions and get some input from the producers and executives. That meeting with the producers was off the record, so I cannot provide details of what went on inside the walls of our meeting, but suffice to say it was very enlightening.
The meeting took over an hour to complete and from what I could gather, the producers were quite happy to meet with us. Following that meeting, ESPN allowed Rachel, Pete and I to have an on the record interview with Norby Williamson, the network’s Executive Senior Vice President of Studio and Event Production. We were able to ask several questions during a 22 minute discussion. The topics included “The Decision” which I feel remains a sore subject within ESPN. While Williamson says he would air the program if he had the opportunity to do it all over again, there would be different parameters and more editorial control retained by ESPN.
Norby commented on whether he’s sensitive to criticism and whether ESPN is biased more towards the East Coast. He also discussed ratings for ESPN and how they’re interpreted based on the competition on other networks.
And in this cut, I asked Norby if ESPN was taking events from ABC and the reaction by the network affiliates to not having as much live sports as they used to.
The interview will be heard in its entirety on the Sports Media Weekly Podcast next week. At that time, Keith Thibault of Sports Media Journal and I will discuss my visit to Bristol, CT and my reactions to what Mr. Williamson said. I thank ESPN’s Josh Krulewitz to extending an invitation which led to my brief two hour stay within the Alleged Worldwide Leader.