ESPN is known as the Worldwide Leader in Sports, but how long can the company hold that title?
I ask this because we live in an age where people don’t wait to watch SportsCenter the next morning to see what is happening in the world of sports. It’s much easier to open Twitter on your phone and see who is saying what. The sports media landscape has become one of instant reaction, and with a platform like Twitter people can choose who to follow.
This new reality is giving power and recognition to the individual rather than to the network that employs them.
One of the biggest new hap- penings in the NBA is free agency. Any hardcore NBA fan knows that the go-to Twitter follow to find out what happens when it happens is Adrian Wojnarowski. I, like many others, won’t be waiting for to see what Wojnarowski’s employer, Yahoo Sports, tweets when Kevin Durant makes his decision this summer. I’ll be waiting for a “Woj bomb.”
Woj has turned his following into an entirely new creation. He launched “The Vertical Podcast” in Dec. 2015, which is now part of his new basketball site, a Yahoo affiliate, of the same name.
This is not to say that the impor- tance of a network is diminishing. Sports media personalities still need a platform and somewhere to publish content. What really matters today is being someone in the industry with talent, access and the ability to reach people.
Then there are people like Bill Simmons, who are doing just fine on their own.
The Sports Guy built an enormous following during his run at ESPN. He was the founder and editor-in-chief of Grantland, a site dedicated to producing various sports and pop culture content, which is in a way the predecessor of what Woj did with The Vertical. Although it is no longer in existence, whenever I think of Grantland, I will think of Bill Simmons – not the financier, ESPN.
Last year, ESPN decided to part ways with Simmons. He has since signed with HBO, but his upcoming television project has been under wraps. In the meantime, the he has created his own company, “The Bill Simmons Media Group.” He has launched the “Bill Simmons Podcast” and the “Channel 33 Podcast,” which are all part of the Bill Simmons Pod- cast Network.
Perhaps still disappointed with the fate of Grantland, he has also announced a new website, “The Ringer,” with details to come.
A former co-host of Mike and The Mad Dog, widely considered the greatest sports talk show of all time, is also hoping to take the route of Simmons. Mike Francesa, now host of Mike’s On: Francesa on the FAN, announced on an appearance on the “Garbage Time Podcast” with Katie Nolan that his time at WFAN will be over at the conclusion of his contract in 2017. He said that this doesn’t mean he will leave the business, but hinted that his next step to be to create something of his own. Francesa was vague about his ideas, only mentioning a wish to bring talented group of broadcasters together.
Individuals are creating their own brands in ways never done before because they could have never been done before.
So, will there be a worldwide leader in sports in the decades to come, or will it be the individu- al that shines the brightest? Only time will tell.
Matt Zeigafuse is a communication studies major from Phillipsburg, N.J. He can be reached at matthew. firstname.lastname@example.org. edu or on Twitter @MattZeigafuse.