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Friday, December 19, 2014

ESPN Summit: Good Idea, Bad TV

Waiting for the second game of the College World Series to begin, I wound up watching a trial balloon show on ESPN that was sandwiched between the end of the 6pm ET SportsCenter and the 7:30pm ET start time in Omaha. After a few moments I realized this was the same program Dan Le Batard’s referenced in a chat that was picked up by The Big Lead a few weeks ago. I wound up trying to watch the program but had a difficult time enjoying it for several reasons.

Let me start by saying that the ironic nature of ESPN putting together their star players for a free agent summit was funny in itself. Secondly, assembling the hosts of PTI Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon, along with two humorous debaters in Dan Le Batard and Bill Simmons would make you think the program had to be good. Unfortunately it wasn’t that good and it turned out to be a visual issue of “not enough basketballs to go around.”

See, I love PTI for several reasons. Not only does it help to set the agenda for sports media members and fans, but it does so in a simple, clear, and concise manner. There’s a rundown on the right of the screen and TK and Wilbon maneuver through topics quickly with a time limit. They take turns speaking and don’t talk over each other very often. We get to hear different sides of the argument to decide for ourselves and the hosts are respectful of each other when one is talking. That was not the case for the summit.

With four people sitting around the table discussing issues, there was far too much arguing and talking over one another for my taste. They spent the beginning of the show flashing NBA owners on a screen and talking about them (reminiscent of the scene in Animal House where they judge the rushees). They progressed to predicting where each free agent would wind up signing which was fun. Once again, the show was a good idea in theory but poor in practice. It reminded me too much of Around the Horn rather than PTI, all because there were too many people talking and talking over each other.

It was hard to hear anyone make a point at length and the whole thing wasn’t moderated very well. Having any two of these personalities square off in the PTI format would have been great, but putting four of them together creates a disaster to me.

They spent the beginning of the show flashing NBA owners on a screen and talking about them (reminiscent of the scene in Animal House where they judge the rushees). They progressed to predicting where each free agent would wind up signing which was fun. Once again, the show was a good idea in theory but poor in practice. It reminded me too much of Around the Horn rather than PTI, all because there were too many people talking and talking over each other.

This show was a clear example of how more does not equal better, but how less can give you more quality. I hope ESPN takes note.



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