On Monday, CSN’s Daily News Live officially morphed into Philly Sports Talk thanks to Comcast and NBC’s mega conglomerate union. The show’s new name (and set– more on that in a second) is just the latest in a series of NBC-izing initiatives undertaken by CSN outlets around the country. Those stupid #[Team]Talk hashtags, the talk sections on the website and mic flags are among other, mostly cosmetic, changes.
DNL was next, apparently.
CSN has pushed the new show on us for a few weeks now (it reached a fever pitch yesterday with a homepage takeover) using corporate language like: “Philly Sports Talk will match the energy and passion of Philadelphia sports fans with entertaining and informative debates on the hot topics of the day,” said Comcast SportsNet President Brian Monihan. “We have a great relationship with the Philadelphia Daily News and are thrilled that they will continue to contribute to this new program.”
In practice: “PST is basically DNL with better graphics, a very blue set, and Game of Thrones music. But, we have to use buzz words in this release, so: Hot. Passion. Energy. Debate. Must include “debate,” because that’s worked for ESPN.”
Thankfully, the show stays mostly true to its roots – a decent mix of discussion and production – and doesn’t try too much to become First Take, which would be positively awful. I’ve always thought DNL was the best thing CSN did on a regular basis. Conversations were structured, but free-flowing and casual. A great deal of that was owed to Barkann’s talent as an informed host and facilitator. He’s really good at that, and it’s clearly his strength.
So, not much has changed: Barkann is still the host. Dan Roche is still the producer. Daily News and CSN personalities, it would seem, will remain the lion’s share of the guests (the show is still powered by the Daily News… until it’s not around anymore). There’s still a Quick Six. And news alerts are still six hours too late.
But there are some tweaks.
The new version of the show (I’m not calling it a new show, because I don’t think it is) starts off with a What’s Trending segment, a very corporatized thing (big companies love to tell you what’s trending... and by the time they do, it’s usually not trending anymore) that is basically the day’s headlines, which, come to think of it, would be a better name.
Barkann gives the show’s rundown – standing – and informs readers of the new Wild Card segment, an end-of-show block in which viewers choose between a few mostly undesirable topics. It’s gimmicky, but fine.
It sounds like Merrill Reese is doing the voiceover for the show’s opening credits. That’s cool. Though I’m not sure it fits into the whole NBC-izing thing.
Once all the whiz-bang is over, the show begins to feel familiar. Cameras zoom in on the main set, which is a modernized version of what we’re used to. Oh, and it’s blue. Very blue. Crazy blue. WHAT WERE THEY THINKING DID THEY LOOK AT THIS ON A MONITOR? blue. Eiffel 65 isn’t this blue. Really, this amount of blue would have killed Blue long before the jelly wrestling scene in Old School.
It’s too blue.
Once my receptors discovered cool hues again, I could make out the familiar setup– Barkann on the left, panelists on the right. John Gonzalez and Rich Hoffman were the choices for the first show. They are probably two of the better regulars (good move leaving David Murphy and Marcus Hayes at home for this one). The first show also featured lengthy interviews with Ryan Howard and Peter Laviolette, and there was another with Jason Kelce in the second show. Barkann’s jeans made an appearance for all three. But I wouldn’t get too used to sit-downs with heavy hitters like that on a daily basis… it seems like the favors were called in for the first show and perhaps for the first week.
Discussions feel the same. They’re accompanied by better looking and more modern, but not over the top, graphics. There seems to be a bit more producing going on, whereas DNL, at times, was very free-flowing. That can be both a good and bad thing: More structure will prevent the show from slowing to a halt (the way DNL would sometimes do), but it could also prevent some of the more entertaining unscripted moments that kept the show on the air for 15 years.
From the sound of it, we can probably expect more viewer interaction (Twitter, polls, etc.), interviews (NBC Sports personalities, Michelle Beadle??) and, yeah, blatant NBC promos (yesterday, PST used clips from both SNL and The Office… the latter made sure to feature the cross-promotional goodness of Howard’s Subway plugs). That stuff could get annoying if it’s overdone – Joe Posnanski’s appearance on the second show felt forced, and it added nothing – but I have a feeling the rest of the show will remain largely the same. And again, that’s not a bad thing. But they need to do something about the set.