Caution: ESPN Might Actually Be Listening To Its Readers

Saturday, March 31, 2007

I wanna say something. I’m gonna put it out there; if you like it, you can take it, if you don’t, send it right back.

I still like Bill Simmons.

In fact, he is one of my favorite writers, one of the few guys who makes me sit up and say, “Oh good, he wrote something new today” when a story with his byline pops into my Google Reader. Like it or not, I usually find that the story provides an interesting read – I might not necessarily agree with the premise or the conclusions, but it generally grabs my attention and holds it. (For the record, my current favorite writer: Dave Lozo over at Why Don’t We Get Drunk And Blog? Some of the funniest stuff I’ve ever read.)

There has been plenty of fury directed at Simmons over the last couple of years, much of which stems from two occurrences: a decrease in the frequency of his writing and the hiding of his archived work behind ESPN.com’s dreaded Insider pay wall. Steps have been taken recently to remedy the first issue: since February 8, Simmons has authored “The Basketball Blog”, a supplement to his regular twice-weekly columns that serves as a way to directly comment on the sport in which he is most knowledgeable. It also means he is writing much more – up to four times per week during the month of March. Some of the posts have been very good, some very bad, but hey, it’s more Simmons.

Friday’s blog post showed that ESPN is willing to take steps toward satisfying Simmons readers in problem number two: the archives have been paroled and are available for everyone’s reading enjoyment, free of charge. No more Insider for Simmons.

More frequent writing…less good stuff behind the pay wall…if this keeps up, we might have to consider that ESPN is actually listening to public opinion. Perish the thought.

(The Big Lead recently wrote about the problems with ESPN.com in a post about the demotion of Editor-In-Chief John Papanek. In closing, they asked for suggestions on ways to "alter the .com". Out of 54 comments, more than 20 addressed Insider in some way. So yeah...maybe they're listening.)

Posted by One More Dying Quail at 1:44 AM

3 Comments:

Yikes. As much as I have a love/hate relationship with Simmons' writing, the opening of the archive has ensured that nothing will get done this weekend outside of hitting the bar to watch Saturday's games.

Signal to Noise said...
Mar 31, 2007, 5:47:00 AM  

The only thing wrong with Bill Simmons is he feels the need to be "more than a blogger". I doubt any of us would do much different if our hobby blogs became hot properties. But his rambling style is, quite clearly, blogging. He's not a reporter or a feature writer.

I used to laugh my ass off reading his columns, and I think his fame has taken away that low-rent charm. ESPN has neutered him to some degree as the stakes got higher.

In addition, I'm in the minority of people who think he should post less instead of more. Or at least shorter daily pieces. If I had to write that many words as often as he does, I'd get bored with it, and mail it in from time to time (especially if I had to go to the Playboy Mansion with J-Bug that evening), and I think that happens.

In essence, I still think he's funny. Some of his analysis is clever, and accurate. He just needs to find his focus, and the basketball blog is a step in that direction that I think is working.

extrapolater said...
Mar 31, 2007, 8:22:00 AM  

thanks for the nice words. if you guys ever get jon miller to stop pronouncing Latin ballplayers' names with a ridiculous Latin accent, i'll nominate you for a Nobel prize.

Lozo said...
Mar 31, 2007, 1:45:00 PM  

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