ESPN has done a lot of good things to earn its crown atop the sports media landscape. Avoiding excessive cross-promotion, though, is not one of them.
SportsCenter segments always end with a teaser for an event to be televised on one of ESPN’s litany of stations. Announcers for those same televised events take every opportunity to remind viewers when the next SportsCenter will air. Atop just about every ESPN.com page is a video player that automatically plays a SportsCenter segment related to the piece and, of course, that video ends with a reminder to check out one of ESPN’s five new localised sports sites. Which then link back to… you get the point.
So today’s New York Times article about the restructuring of ESPN Magazine — which, with the exception of the front-of-book “What 2 Watch 4” section, is relatively free from the long reach of the television arm (its offices aren’t even in Bristol, Conn., though they’re moving there) — to synchronise more closely with ESPN’s TV programming, its flagship business, shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
In 2008 the editors started to seriously rethink the magazine, eventually settling on a plan to have each issue largely focus on a single topic, like noise in sports, and to pare down some of the small nuggets of content at the front…
…By producing topical editorial packages planned far in advance, the biweekly magazine could better coordinate its coverage with ESPN’s networks.
Some more from The Times on how these focused issues will benefit ESPN:
- They can adapt the magazine to events that will garner coverage on the network. For instance, an issue about ice in sports corresponds with the start of the hockey season.
- It allows for more in-depth coverage of big issues in athletics.
- ESPN can use single topics to entice advertisers. Second quarter ad sales were already up 43 per cent over the same period a year ago.
- The magazine production staff will leave New York City and join the rest of the company in Bristol.
So there you have it.
Now, if only they had implemented these changes in time for the LeBron James “Decision” special! (As if there wasn’t already enough coverage of that mess.)
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