ESPN to Key on Live Telecasts

Categories: TV Business

Written By

September 29th, 2008

Robert and I both believe that live events like sports will become relatively more valuable in the future because they are more "DVR-proof". It seems as if the head of content at ESPN agrees (via MediaWeek):

ESPN’s content guru John Skipper says he is going to make a concerted effort to add even more live sports coverage across all of the network’s media platforms while cutting back on scripted series, reality shows, original movies and other types of more general sports entertainment programming.

“We have found that what sports fans really care about, and why they come to ESPN properties is to watch live games,” said Skipper, the company’s vp of content. ESPN’s Sept. 16 Monday Night Football telecast drew 18.6 million viewers, the largest cable audience ever.

Skipper said he will continue to pursue deals for more major college games, and will look to get additional rights to major professional tennis and golf events when they become available. Reclaiming the National Hockey League is also on his to-do list. The NHL is slated to run on Versus through the 2010-2011 season.

Of course, Skipper’s biggest quarry is the Olympics; Skipper is working on a major pitch on behalf of ESPN and sister network ABC to wrest the Olympics’ rights away from NBC when the bidding for the ’14 and ’16 Games come up next year. As the incumbent, NBC will have some advantages. And after its success in Beijing, it’s not going to give up without a fight. Skipper, without offering specifics, said “we are pretty good at finding ways to acquire rights to major events if we want them.”

Read the rest here.

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