Skip to main content

Media Mailbag: Tackling questions about CBS, ESPN, more

In his latest media mailbag,'s Richard Deitsch tackles your Twitter questions about the coverage of the Masters, ESPN and much more on sports journalism. 

Welcome to the SI Media Mailbag. Writing a Mailbag—as egocentric as it is—is a fun exercise. So thanks for tweeting these questions. 

Why do certain media personalities do so many things? Nantz [on] all [of] CBS, Erin Andrews [does] NFL & DWTS, etc. Seems indulgent.
—RJ Ochoa

Because people like money.

Thoughts on the new PFT podcast and column?
—Ben B

I feel like Danny Woodhead would not have sold out like this.

Now that the NCAA tournament has ended, is CBS rethinking the Selection Show format?
Neil Schoolnik

The only person in America I saw praising the CBS Selection Show format was Doug (TV 101) Gottleib. CBS Sports executives are now on the record saying they will change it, which is what smart sports television executives do when their viewers make it clear how much they dislike something.

Despite the CBS/Turner extension with the NCAA through 2032, will other leagues have pause to put their title games on cable in the near future?
—Douglas Pucci ‏

NCAA, CBS/Turner extend NCAA tournament deal through 2032

I don’t think so. On Tuesday, Turner and CBS announced they will continue to alternate the title game every year through the duration of the contract extension. ESPN has clearly opted to keep the college football championship on cable (as opposed to ABC) and those numbers were strong before the College Football Playoff execs screwed things up royally with the New Years Eve plans. A number of Stanley Cup finals games are on cable and that won’t change given NBC needs to increase the value of NBCSN for cable carriers. I don’t see the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals or the World Series morphing to cable in the near future but everything else is up for grabs.

Ever foresee a time when the Masters TV coverage is comparable to other golfing majors? Spieth had 11 holes [shown on the] Thu/Fri b-cast.
—Lt. Frank Drebin

Nope. The dudes who run Augusta are stubborn—and TV kisses their butt. What would be the incentive to change?

Who’s an up-and-coming media personality that we’ll all be talking about in the near future (i.e. the next Katie Nolan)?
—Stefen Lovelace

Katie Nolan.

Would you rather be FOX, NBC, ABC/ESPN, or CBS/ Turner Sports based on the packages they own?
—Retire FiftyTu

Scroll to Continue

SI Recommends

At the moment, I might choose CBS/Turner given the combined inventory and the relatively cheap cost of some of them (like the SEC deal). But they all have great inventory.

Hearing that this is Rosalyn Gold-Onwude last season with the Golden State Warriors—the sky is the limit for her, correct?
—Robert Saguisag ‏

Media Circus: Ken Burns on his new PBS documentary, Jackie Robinson

I don’t know her contractual status with Comcast SportsNet Bay Area but here’s what I can tell you: CBS Sports praised her work during the NCAA tournament, Turner has used her for its NBA coverage and NBC just added her to cover the Olympic women’s basketball tournament. I interviewed Gold-Onwude when she was a basketball player at Stanford and her intellect immediately stood out. She has a big career ahead of her.

Does NBC have a succession plan for Doc?  Seems like John Forslund/Kenny Albert are their next tier
—Al Hood

Let’s hope Mike Emrick lasts for another decade. If I had to guess, I think Albert would be successor on the coverage of the Stanley Cup finals.

In light of ESPN ending Grantland, what do you think about FiveThirtyEight's future past the election? 
—Matthew Ormsbee

Will a woman ever break through in Major League Baseball?

Publicly, ESPN executives profess to love FiveThirtyEight. But they also said the same thing about Grantland before they shuttered it. Next week I have a long-awaited interview with the executive running FiveThirtyEight so if nothing else, there will be an on the record answer about 2017 and beyond.

What would be more impactful (in your opinion): FS1 stealing Skip Bayless, or ESPN stealing the UFC?
Joseph Stuart

ESPN swiping the UFC, by a ton. But I wonder how UFC would feel about ESPN’s reporting on them because I don’t see ESPN acting like a marketing firm if they owned the property. FS1 stealing Bayless isn’t stealing, in my opinion: It’s paying a dude $5 million for maybe 75,000 extra viewers. That’s not a wise business model. Plus, you’d be alienating your top NFL analyst, who loathes him and has said so repeatedly on the record.

Which of NBC Sports Net, CBS Sports Net and FS1 is in the best position moving forward?
—Ryan Bafaloukos ‏

FS1 has the most money to play with, but the other two haven’t played the arms race with ESPN.

In your opinion, what can regional sports networks do to truly stand out with their web presence?
Josh Nason

I think if you hire some first-rate reporters and writers you can easily compete with the dominant web source (likely the newspaper) in that town, perhaps outside of some major print towns such as New York. Regional sports net would be wise to money whip top talent from the local papers and go after those ad dollars.

Do you see NBC and CBS making a bid for the Big Ten TV rights coming up?
—Jeff Pollard

I think it stays with ESPN and Fox.

What are your thoughts on the new Simmons empire and how ESPN seems to be losing so much talent?
Andy Flores ‏

I like the hires for The Ringer, particularly the in-house editors. They have a chance to make inroads as a smart, niche website, and as a major podcast player. As for ESPN, I’d expect more talent layoffs heading forward due to cost cutting. But ESPN will always remain a destination job and they will always have premium talent, especially on the digital side.

How will NBC juggle Olympics and EPL in August?
—Edward Chiu

By focusing on the Olympics.

If Peyton Manning does go the broadcasting route, which network has the best chance at landing him?
—LaKeena McGee

The one that pays him the most.

Does ESPN have a plan in place should they lose Skip Bayless?

First Take will continue, with many egos at ESPN crawling like Andy Dufresne to get a seat at the table.

I'm not a fan of fighting sports, but this year I've seen ESPN covering UFC and WWE more than ever before. Why now? -
—Chris Chiappetti

I recently did a column on this exact topic. Here's why it's happening now.

How often are the ESPN radio hosts physically together and do you think that makes any difference in the programs?
—Kirk Nahra

MLB media roundtable: Challenges of reporting, tough interviews and more

The first part is based on the individual shows but the latter is easy: No show is better with its co-hosts being in different locations versus the same location.

Is access worth compromising integrity in today's media environment with players controlling their narrative more and more? 
—Jeremy Wilson

Access is never worth comprising your integrity for, but access deals are often part of sports journalism. The key is what are you promising in exchange for the access and are you promising not to report something?

How is Mike Breen the most anonymous big-time—and tremendous—announcer in sports?
Brian Eckhouse ‏

Breen is excellent, respected, and I think why you might think he’s anonymous is that he stays clear of offering too much opinion publicly. He cedes that space to his analysts.

What are your and your contacts' opinions on whether a major in journalism is still the smartest move, vs. minor, another major? Specifically for college students looking to becoming sports journalists some day. 
—Free Giannis

Is sports broadcasting in Peyton Manning’s future?

There are too many variables at play here to give great advice, from not knowing the school choice (and the cost of tuition) to the quality of teaching to what experience you have to many other factors. As a general rule, if you are attending an undergraduate college known for journalism, it’s a good bet to take classes in that discipline for the contacts (both professors and your fellow students). But I like journalists with diverse backgrounds and you would be separating yourself from the masses with a non-journalism major but the same experience (school paper, internships etc..) as those who majored in journalism. Good luck to you.

What's your take on the NFL's deal with Twitter? Is this an emerging trend with new entrants (Facebook, Amazon)?
—Eric Volann

It remains to be seen if Twitter will be a longterm NFL player but digital streaming of NFL games is just at the beginning. Still, I don’t see the NFL changing from broadcasting most of its inventory on over-the-air TV in my lifetime.

Amid Andrews trial, female sports reporters open up about safety

With the imminent demise of dead tree journalism (and the loss of so many great writers) where do you see sports media going in the next 10–20 years? Death greatly exaggerated or the end is nigh? Thanks!
—Adumbrate Sly

As an intellectual public, we have never had more access to quality journalism. We’re also a culture that is obsessed with information. That’s a hopeful brew for journalism to have success heading forward. Specific to sports journalism: You will still have great work over the next 10–20 years. I wish I could tell you the medium it will appear, but it will exist. I do think that the lines between opinion and reporting will continue to be blurred and it will be up to sports news organizations to make clear (and perhaps even do outreach) on what constitutes journalism versus conjecture.