Monday, September 01, 2008
So it was two weeks ago that I told you about ESPN's plan to "focus on Football" and not have guests show up in the booth. There's now even more word that the focus has shifted and after talking with focus groups in the offseason they realized that they were, "trying too hard."
"I think we may have been trying to overdeliver for all audiences and casual fans," said senior coordinating producer Jay Rothman. "You could call us the old ABC on steroids, but the truth of the matter is we are a sports network and people tune into ESPN for a sporting event.See this is the thing. I completely understand the direction and the thinking here, but to me it's still not the right direction. You shouldn't be trying to make Jaws the next Madden, but rather just let him be himself. There's no correct formula to delivering a stellar broadcast because each game is different and always changing. Some games are going to be dreadful like that Dolphins-Steelers game in the rain last year and some will go from blowouts to amazing comebacks like the Cards-Bears game in 2006. Ultimately though, the problems don't stem from Jaws or Tirico at all, but rather Tony's ramblings on his fantasy football team and stories that are months old. He's very endearing at times when he seems to care about the back story, ala Michael Vick, but more often than not it seems like he just doesn't care about the game at all.
" One of the things we heard was You're trying too hard.' Well, we're going to pull back. We may not be 20 pounds in a 5-pound bag; we'll give you 5 pounds in a 5-pound bag. But guilty as charged: I think we were trying to service too many and found we were doing too much."
ESPN plans in particular to let analyst Ron Jaworski shine more at what he does best, which is taking the intricate X's and O's of the game and making them easy for viewers to understand.
"We're going to make him the new (John) Madden," said Rothman. "Jaws is one of the most credible and well-liked football analysts out there, not just by fans, but by teams and players as well."
ESPN also plans to utilize high-speed cameras and new graphics, but says it wants to get its graphics "out of the way" of the action on the field, another thing it says its focus groups wanted.
Mike Tirico and Tony Kornheiser return with Jaworski and Rothman said he plans to use Kornheiser to deliver "instant columns" to put events in perspective.
It's great that they are considering the feelings of the fans, but the fate of the trio unfortunately doesn't hinge on Jaws, but rather Kornheiser.
Carlisle: ESPN will shift its focus to football (Ventura County Star)
ESPN Comes Up With The Novel Idea Of Focusing On "Football" During MNF Games (Awful Announcing)