Photo: ESPN/Inside SoCal
There’s a lengthy article by Karl Taro Greenfeld about ESPN in Businessweek this week.The two takeaways: 1) ESPN is huge and growing bigger in a time when the rest of the media landscape is fragmenting, 2) The company is so successful because it’s focused on growth and never satisfied with the level of hegemony it has achieved.
The article lacks the juicy details of last summer’s “ESPN book,” These Guys Have All The Fun. But it does a great job giving you a broad view of what ESPN represents in the sports world.
Here’s the money paragraph (we bolded the most important bit):
It’s more than an entertainment empire. The decentralization of media and the disruptive influence of technology—ubiquitous screens, plentiful bandwidth, and generous digital storage making it possible to watch anything, anywhere, anytime—have made big-ticket sports the only events that still regularly attract a mass global audience. No outlet owns the rights to more of those properties—including the National Football League, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, major-conference college football, all four Grand Slam tennis championships, Major League Soccer, Nascar, and golf’s U.S. Open, British Open, and the Masters—than ESPN. The company broadcasts more than half of all the live sports seen in the U.S. Through dozens of ESPN-branded TV, Web, and mobile platforms, it also shapes the ways in which leagues, teams, and athletes are packaged, promoted, marketed, and consumed by the public. In a real sense, ESPN no longer covers sports. It controls sports.
For better or worse, it’s the truth.
The article ties together a lot of things we already know: ESPN is trying to buy up the rights to live sports whenever possible, etc. But it’s still worth a read.
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