3 items from 2017
Espn’s massive “O.J.: Made in America” documentary inspired the crew in Bristol to think bigger — even before the eight-hour epic won an Oscar.
Next month the sports giant will flood the zone with what it’s hoping will be another culturally resonant, super-sized docu-project: “We the Fans,” a multiplatform package chronicling the lives and relationships of a tightknit group of Chicago Bears season-ticket holders in section 250 of Soldier Field.
The project follows the diehards through the Bears’ atrocious 3-13 season last year. It’s anchored around eight 30-minute episodes that will air over four weeks starting April 11. But before, during, and after the TV run, Espn will spray a considerable amount of content for the project across its website with online-exclusive videos, photo galleries, articles, and a serialized podcast; on its WatchESPN video service; on social media; and in Espn the Magazine.
In fact, “We the Fans” originated from Espn’s digital group, and »
- Todd Spangler
Espn’s last big round of layoffs took place in 2015 and stayed, for the most part, behind the camera. Its next round won’t be so deferential to talent.
The Disney-owned cable channel is set to reduce personnel in the coming months, with the bulk of cuts coming from the on-air ranks. The move is indicative of the growing pressure Espn feels as the cable ecosystem evolves, and of how the network plans to adapt in response.
According to Nielsen research, Espn had 87.4 million subscribers in March, down from more than 100 million six years ago. Subscriber erosion has presented a challenge for all cable channels in the era of skinny bundles — low-cost network packages delivered via broadband, such as DirecTV Now — but Espn, with its outsize presence in the cable landscape and the Walt Disney Co. portfolio, has been scrutinized more closely than most brands.
Espn demands the largest affiliate fee of any cable network, averaging »
- Daniel Holloway
Costas has served as the primetime host of every Olympic Games broadcast by NBC since 1992. “It has been both a privilege and an incredible personal and professional experience to have been part of NBC’s Olympic coverage all these years,” said Costas, who has the longest tenure of NBC’s sports announcers — a whopping 37 years. “I’m especially appreciative of all the talented and dedicated people I worked for and with on those broadcasts. I always felt that, in a certain sense, I was carrying the ball for them. It’s been a wonderful run, but I just felt now was the right time to step away and I’m grateful that NBC left that decision to me.”
- Oriana Schwindt
3 items from 2017
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