SBD/Issue 175/Sports Media

Falling Off The Hook: ESPN Ending Majority Of Outdoor Programming

ESPN's Outdoor Programs Have
Been Saturday Staple For Years

ESPN will "dump" the majority of its outdoor programming at the end of this year, creating a "shock to the entire outdoors industry," according to BASSFAN.com. ESPN2’s weekend morning outdoor block has been a “long and storied cornerstone” of outdoor programming for 30 years, and the net had even “formed a separate ESPN Outdoors division to focus on the market.” The weekend morning block on ESPN2 will now be “filled by other properties,” such as EPL matches, NASCAR programming and “SportsCenter.” The “only show in the current outdoor block that will continue to air on ESPN2” is the ESPN-owned event The Bassmasters. The ESPN-owned Saltwater Series “will not air on ESPN2.” The news “does revive rumors that ESPN is actively engaged in an effort to sell BASS.” If ESPN is “divesting itself of outdoor programming, that would seem to indicate that its interest in BASS lies only within a potential to broadcast BASS events.” ESPN’s “decision to dump its outdoor programming parallels decisions being made across media as a whole.” The trend is “toward niche production and delivery -- channels, magazines and digital properties narrowly tailored to fit a specific fan or enthusiast base” (BASSFAN.com, 5/21). ESPN Senior Dir of PR Rob Tobias said in a statement, “This is a business decision and affords ESPN increased opportunities to provide sports fans with live-event or studio-based programs” (THE DAILY).

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