The New York Times clearly has it out for the mega-network ESPN. Perhaps it is because the political/sports statistician/wizard Nate Silver recently left the New York Times to join ESPN, and included his fivethirtyeight blog as part of the deal (which the New York Times never owned, just contracted it for three years). Or perhaps because even the New York Times hates Keith Olbermann, they must bash the network for allowing him to come back. Or maybe the New York Times hates Mickey Mouse, and must destroy everything in Mickey’s domain (most likely, in my opinion).
Regardless of the reason, The New York Times has been throwing punches at ESPN for the past week. It all started last Friday, August 23rd, when the New York Times reported that ESPN bailed on a documentary about head injuries because of pressure from the NFL. This kind of punch takes a clear shot at ESPN’s journalistic integrity, which lets be honest, its fans don’t really care too much about. I would bet most of the Monday Night Football fan base could give a shit less about concussions. However, that article was nothing in comparison to today’s exposé of the giant ESPN truly is. The New York Times starts off with the standard anti-competitiveness of the network, by mentioning it owns more rights to sports than it does capacity to air said sports. The article goes deeper into Disney’s lobbying efforts to keep bundled television, as opposed to a la cart television – where subscribers would only pay for channels they actually want to watch. ESPN gains A LOT by having TV providers bundle channels, because ALL subscribers pay $5.44 for ESPN programming, which is 4 times more than any other cable network. Of 100 million subscribers paying this fee, only about 25% of them actually tune to an ESPN network. This means Basement Rob is subsidizing Sunday Night Baseball and Monday Night Football for me (thanks Rob!). I’m sure given the choice, Basement Rob would not be paying for this subsidy.
The article goes on about how Disney let the FCC chairperson use Superbowl ad time on ABC to announce the analog to digital TV change years ago, likely because the FCC chairperson was in favor of keeping bundled television. The article tells tales of lobbying events in Washington where politicians were giddy to take pictures with Mohammad Ali, Carl Lewis, and Johnny Unitas. And there is even mention where a congressman with ties to the cable bundling bill was given a free trip to Disney for himself and his family. All classic Washington stuff really.