CSN Thinks It Gets Millennials

Jeff Blumenthal of the Philly Business Journal talked to Comcast SportsNet President Brian Monihan, who HAS A PLAN TO GET MILLENIALS:

In an attempt to keep up with fast-changing viewer habits and attract and retain the coveted millennial audience, Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia has implemented significant format changes in recent months – including a shuffling of on-air hosts and a shift in programming.

Last year, CSN eliminated the 6 p.m. edition of its flagship news program, SportsNet Central, in favor of Eagles-centric gab fest Quick Slants. More recently, the program’s 10 p.m. edition has scaled back highlight packages to focus on analysis, and back and forth banter, mirroring some of the programming seen on national sports networks like ESPN and FS1. A new segment called Three and Out matches up three hosts offering opinions about a specific topic.

“We’ve tried to evolve an operation in a more efficient, smarter fashion,” CSN Philadelphia President Brian Monihan said. “Viewers are not just watching on TV but on mobile phones and IPads. And they’re not necessarily looking for highlights. If they want scores, they don’t want to have to wait for them. They can just look on their phones and get that immediately.

“Our programming is now more about discussion. Our hosts are not individual experts but they have the ability to express their opinions. And we have seen our hosts raise their presence on social media. They are expanding their reach on all platforms.”

“Our talent needs to be more flexible in terms of what they are asked to do,” Monihan said. “Some of them have started podcasts… [BOB co-hosts Jillian Mele and Barrett Brooks] now host [Eagles coach] Doug Pederson’s press conferences. We don’t just air it. They actually host it. And Jillian can get analysis from Barrett, since he is a former player… We are asking our people to be malleable and not just do one thing.”

Viewers can spot CSN’s increasing focus on attracting millennials with its BOB program, which is heavy on social media interaction and other programming is following that course.

Blumenthal also confirmed my report that Jen Daniels is out at CSN. Though no one will say it, I believe that the departures of Neil Hartman, Leslie Gudel and (to a much lesser extent) Daniels were cost-saving contract moves.

But Monihan describing what millennials want – though to be fair he didn’t use the word – is like a beaver describing how a dolphin swims. Sure, he might be able to relate to it using its tail, but the rest is just a complete oversimplification. Just because viewers no longer need scores and highlights doesn’t mean they automatically want debate. In fact, I’d argue that nonstop debate is what has steered younger viewers away from ESPN. More savvy viewers who have direct connections to athletes through social media and can choose their own echo chamber online don’t need to listen to some old guy or girl or former player in a suit give their hot take of the day. Worse, at least ESPN gets the “premium” talent for its debate format. It gets the best former players and personalities. Monihan literally cited Barrett Brooks as someone people want to hear from, “since he is a former player.” But most former players are dumb and don’t provide anywhere near the insightful analysis or commentary that can be found elsewhere. CSN’s debate shows and segments are TERRIBLE, uninventive fluff about a topic some producer scribbled on a sheet of paper. Never mind that CSN cut away from one piece of truly compelling content – Ryan Howard’s ceremony on Sunday – in favor of the studio show. Asking hosts to do more or, worse, “raise their presence on social media” exposes them:



Worse WORSE is that if CSN is trying to steer people online, their website is a blazing tire fire. That is NBC’s doing, but it doesn’t change the fact that the site actively hates the user. You think MILLENNIALS will put up with this shit?


And the struggles for CSN might have little to do with ratings. People are cutting the cord. Right now, I think about $4 of your cable bill goes to CSN. Like ESPN, when people cut the cord, Comcast loses that money… money that they’ve already paid for broadcast rights. It’s not just about ad revenue. Ratings will surely go up as the teams improve, but that might not be enough to stave off the losses in subscription fees.

It wasn’t Monihan who referred to BOB as being geared toward millennials (that was Blumenthal), but if CSN believes this too I don’t even know what to say. BOB is fine, but no young person is waking up and immediately putting on a morning show, let alone a B-list show on a local sports channel… they’re (we’re?) picking up our phones to see what’s going on.

CSN is one of many networks that struggles with “social media interaction.” They think it’s some buzzword, some separate element that needs to have its own segment filled with cat pictures. What most TV networks don’t realize is that social media is just part of the way we interact today. It’s not its own special thing. If you’re going to incorporate it into a show, do so organically (Michael Barkann actually does this well) without treating it like a quirky step-child who farts a lot in a way that most of the family perceives as cute. In other words– never call your social media segment a “social media segment,” just reference Tweets, Facebook posts, and Snapchats as if they’re just another piece of content, not unlike press releases, statements, soundbites or whatever. Or go the extra mile and use your social media channels to provide content and sell sponsors on that. That’s the one thing I would do if I had a larger staff– do more directly on social media and figure out a way to monetize it. Comcast has the resources and access to have a kickass Snapchat feed.

I’m not sure there’s an easy answer for CSN or any sports network, but at least ESPN has the resources, rights and leverage to crowbar their way into the future with unique content. CSN has local broadcast rights, sure, but little else going for it. The fact that they think debate and talking heads is what young people want is a bad, bad sign.


60 Responses

    1. Millennials are irresonsible lazy narcissitic selfish fucks.
      Hope you enjoy supporting your littl brats when they come home to live
      after they ‘break up’ their next relationship.

      1. Lol someone’s wife wanted a millennial instead. Smart choice for the couuuugar. Look’s like BOB was inferior to the entire generation.

  1. Kyle, did you receive my proposal for a 12,000 word column on the upcoming city chess championships?

  2. Looks like MCW officially confirmed on the radio this morning that my dad is officially getting his dick wet. What can I say, my pops is a fan of the bangs. Man I’ve been holding this thing deep inside (like REAL deep inside) for awhile now. Now I can tell everyone at school how I saw her naked taking a dump in my house once. Sweet!

      1. Honest true story about this. My younger brother is an intern at 97.5. Apparently, the commercial break after she said that, the Cuz went OFF on her to the point she was in tears and walked away from the set at the Trop and went into the bathroom for awhile. That’s why you don’t hear her again for a while after that break. When she gave her first update after you could hear her voice shaking. Apparently he even uttered the phrase, “What, you fuck up and now you are going to cry like a little bitch? ” Baldy actually had to pull the Cuz away and settle him down. True story

          1. Its within the first half hour I’m pretty sure. They are talking about Cole Hamels and she said “we were watching in bed” Then after that next commercial break she is MIA for a while. Its real faint on the podcast, they probably dubbed it down . Actually surprised they didn’t cut it all together. It was loud and clear on the radio this morning.

      2. With the obvious exception of Jillian Mele, the on air talent at CSN is just so unappealing. Do they really think Millennials want to look at Ruben Frank, Michael Barkann or Ed Rendell? For that matter, does any age group want to watch them?

        1. What you don’t find Reuben Frank’s bloated pot belly and quadruple chins sexy?

          1. He looks like a worn out drunken traveling salesman. Seriously, most days Frank looks like he slept in his car

    1. Hahahahaha. She’s married to a lowly producer, dude. One of about 16 producers at CSN. She outranks him. Get a clue. I’ll keep watching her tho. Don’t hate.

  3. Barrett Brooks is a nobody. Always talking about ‘his Super Bowl ‘ win. He was a back up all of his time in Pittsburgh. Sick of all his exposure.

  4. Maybe people are cutting the cord because the programming sucks. If it were good, people would be ok with buying it. Constantly changing formats, people, and time slots isn’t appealing. BOB isn’t appealing because the show flat out sucks. And all shows are changing to football only shows which is boring to the people out there, like me that don’t want football 24/7/365. I like highlights. I don’t need the over-analysis for a damn football game or football team

    1. And being able to pretty much anything online.
      It doesn’t help sh!t is on the tube as well

  5. Especially losers who live in their Mom’s basement voting hundreds of times with a software program. 10,000 votes equals 25 viewers.

  6. If it didn’t hold DIrectTV and Dish hostage with through the roof carry rates. Neither provider will pay what CSN Philly wants. They carry CSN Boston. You really think Philly is worth more than Boston.

  7. Kyle, this is one of the best things you have written. CSN Philly blows now, their website is awful and you are so right about their pop ups

    I hate that they fired some great old school talent including Neil and Geoff Mosh (but Roob sucks). Just give me Ray Diddy, his yellow legal pad of notes and film study. Use players strengths to break down film, game planning, etc.

  8. Am I the only one who turns off 97.5 when Brian Westbrook comes on? Great player but the Former-Player’s opinion is so unappealing to me these days. It’s an over saturated market with the amount of them on tv and radio and twitter all chiming in about EVERYTHING.
    What I do enjoy though, former GM and FOs types like Banner and Andrew Brandt. There’s fewer of those guys out there, they’re much more intelligent, and their perspective and insight is unique.

  9. People don’t want banter. They want highlights. And the finest meats and cheeses in all the land.

  10. Oh, Christ, this explains the shit I’m seeing on there these days! Last night, I watched in shock and awe as Ron Burke and Danny Pommels went on and on and on about some Eagles-related nothingness. I had to check the listings to make sure I was still watching Sportsnet Central instead of some new show called “Not-So-Quick Slants.”

    “Our hosts are not individual experts” is an awesome premise on which to base changing your programming to focus on hosts’ opinions of stuff.

  11. Apparently listeners are bored because the calls are too long with the general knowledge question. Mike’s solution is give callers less time to talk about sports and more time to ponder general knowledge question. And people wonder the why the sports talk stations have gone to shit. I really care what happened in Roadhouse over Eagles talk. More lame game show crap from the Fanatic.

    1. They’re shit because shows line Rob & Harry beat the same topic to death day in and day out. For the third day in a row, THIRD, they went back to the “Why are the NFL ratings down?” well.

  12. Newsflash CSN: millenials don’t need or want to get their sports content from endless talking head segments/shows with forced conversation about repetitive topics. You’re a terrestrial cable network in an era when millenials are leading the cord-cutting charge. Meanwhile, you’re losing your core Philly sports fan who used to come to you to escape god-awful sportstalk radio and get straight sports news and analysis. Also, the NBC Sports synergy in your programming, graphics, and godawful website is embarrassingly forced and a major turn-off. A once-loyal CSN viewer since 1998, I can’t remember the last time I watched CSN for anything other than game coverage.

  13. Watching CSN, other than game coverage and some post-Eagles/Phillies, anymore? – NEVER
    Horrendous new CSN website? – PUTRID AND UTTERLY UNWIELDY
    Adapting to evolving market dynamics/Gutting core business model? – MORE EFFECTIVE/LESS EFFECTIVE
    “Debate”/”Banter”/Non-reporting format? – GREAT! HHAHAHAHAHA. BUH-BYE, CSN PRESIDENT
    Leslie/Neil/Vaughn Hebron/Tommy Greene – WHAT IS….MOURN?/MISS?/MISS?/&….WT WHAAAAT?????????

    Kyle, an excellent piece, sadly, on a PIECE of crap organization.

  14. 100% true with this, dude. I think I’m (technically?) a millenial, since I’m 26 (born in 1990). And the main reason I turn off ESPN during the early evening hours is i fucking DESPISE this talking head format bullshit. Seriously, FUCK Skip Bayless with Kate Jenner’s dick. And fuck Stephen A Smith. I want fucking highlights. Play the fucking clips of what happened and let me fucking watch. That was ALL SPORTSCENTER WAS when I was a kid. Now I’m basically begging them to give me the basic shit that was the basis of success for their fucking network. And now CSN thinks this is smart? Seriously, fuck network sports coverage anymore.

  15. BOB is just so unwatchable its so obvious they want Sarah Baicker or whatever off that show. They always have her off the main set reading tweets etc.
    Please get her off she’s so ugly I’m sorry and her hair is horrible! Like is it a wig? That show is so [email protected]!
    They need to put Jillian on the end to see her legs etc and find another hot girl. Get rid of Rob he’s so corny and like “aww shucks” like Andy Griffith show!
    Barrett is ok but please its awful!

  16. csn blows…f brian roberts and his $500 million next egg….cut the f ing cord…peace out.

  17. f brian roberts and his $500 million next egg….cut the f ing cord…peace out.

  18. You sure Daniels isn’t leaving because she’s pregnant? If not, she must’ve put on some weight (stress maybe).

  19. Also, nothing screams “millennials” like hot takes from teen heart throb, Ruben Frank.

  20. Kyle you are never going to get a job programming CSN. Just give up on it.

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