Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 24 No. 116
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

Bill Simmons Critical Of ESPN On Recent Issues; What Does Future Hold For Jemele Hill?

ESPN has been criticized by some recently for its handling of a number of issues, and if it seems like the network "handles everything on a case-by-case basis, that’s because it does," according to Bill Simmons of THE RINGER. Simmons' ESPN contract was not renewed in '15, and like Jemele Hill, Simmons had also been suspended by the net -- in his case for remarks he made on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on his podcast. He wrote ESPN is "almost like a golfer wetting his finger, holding it up and checking the wind. Which way is it blowing today?" That happens for five reasons: ESPN is "way too big; ESPN draws way too much attention; ESPN has contradicted itself way too many times; ESPN’s business relationships can sometimes be in direct conflict with its obligation to report and entertain; and finally, ESPN is just TERRIBLE at this." Simmons: "It’s really, really bad. We have decades of evidence now." Simmons wondered if ESPN’s "failure to back" Hill runs the "risk of talent losing faith in the company (and the people running it)?" Simmons: "How will up-and-comers like Pablo Torre and Katie Nolan thrive creatively in a company that couldn’t handle Jemele?" (THERINGER.com, 10/13). 

Some believe Hill could be headed for another network 
WHAT DOES FUTURE HOLD FOR HILL? SI.com's Richard Deitsch wrote he believes Hill's tenure as a "SportsCenter" anchor is "effectively over." Deitsch: "I also think her time as an ESPN employee is down to months rather than years." Hill "cannot feel that she has management’s unwavering support given the events of the last month -- and ESPN management clearly has limits to the speech it will allow from front-facing talent on social media, and particularly those representing the 'SportsCenter' brand." Deitsch wrote he would "bet that at this time next year" the 6:00pm ET slot -- which is currently occupied by the Hill co-hosted "SC6" -- is either a "standard version of 'SportsCenter' or some sort of PTI-extension." Deitsch: "I would also bet that Hill is elsewhere" (SI.com, 10/15). In N.Y., Bob Raissman also wondered if Hill is "finished at ESPN." Her profile has been "expanded to a point where she might want to consider working for a network where her political views can be expressed freely to a larger audience." At this point, she "seems like a much better fit to host a wide-ranging talk show on MSNBC or CNN" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/15).

NEW TALENT
: SI.com's Jimmy Traina wrote ESPN last week "pulled off three no-brainer hires that will no doubt have a positive impact on the company." It hired Nolan, Yahoo Sports NHL writer Greg Wyshynski and Barstool Sports' "enormously popular duo," Big Cat and PFT Commenter, who are "taking their 'Pardon My Take' podcast to TV and starting 'Barstool Van Talk' on ESPN2" beginning tomorrow. Traina: "You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see that ESPN made a concerted effort to hire younger people with big, loyal fan bases who 'get the Internet.'" ESPN "made these moves to attract a new audience they were not reaching." This was their "way of reaching out to those cord cutters." ESPN is "not banking on millions of people to watch 'Barstool Van Talk'" at 1:00am ET. Traina: "But you can sure as hell bet that the loyal 'Pardon My Take' audience will find that show in whatever form it is presented online" (SI.com, 10/13). SI.com's Deitsch wrote the deal gives Barstool Sports "capital and increased mainstream visibility," while for ESPN it is a "low-cost opportunity with three talented sports media personalities in a time slot with low viewership." It also gives ESPN the opportunity to "expose their brand to 18 to 35 year-olds that might not be inclined to watch them outside of live games" (SI.com, 10/15).