Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks appeared on ESPN’s “First Take” on Thursday and opened up a personal attack on show co-host Skip Bayless (see video below). Afterwards ESPN’s own Bill Simmons criticised a show that many believe caters to the lowest common denominator (via Twitter)…”It’s amazing to me that people get so worked up about First Take. Who cares? Just don’t watch it. There are like 800 TV channels…I am not defending this segment…I thought it was awful and embarrassing to everyone involved. Seriously…But what bothers me about the reaction to that segment is people saying Richard Sherman “won.” Nobody won. Everyone lost. Including ESPN.”
But did ESPN really “lose” with this latest controversy? Simmons of all people should recognise that this segment as well as his own criticism of the show are feeding right into what the Worldwide Leader is looking for.
It was on Simmons’ own podcast that ESPN executive editor John A. Walsh told Simmons that “[First Take] hit a nerve because it has developed a debate personality…it’s hit ratings.” And that is all that matters anymore.
It happens to all networks when they reach a certain size (remember when MTV was about music?). It becomes less about appealing to viewers and more about appealing to advertisers who want maximum ratings and investors who want maximum advertising.
Maybe at some point ESPN will go too far. But as long as we are talking about it, people will watch. And as long as people are watching ESPN is winning.
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