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Email from reader yvonne:
Just read your article on ‘CSN thinks it gets millennials’ and wanted to tell you how thoroughly I enjoyed it. A pleasure to read such a well considered and written article.
I feel a point not made by anyone in all of the changing faces and formats at CSN in pursuit of the millenial audience is the price the company will pay in the alienation of its established, long time generation of sports fans, radio listeners and TV viewers who identified with and felt a personal connection to the long time ‘faces’ of the network and the comfort of usual expectations being met. I enjoyed Leslie Gudel and Neil Hartman and when Ron Burke joined with Brian Baldinger and Ray Didinger I thought that interaction was informative and they ‘clicked’ for me. The viewer has to be able to identify with the hosts and want to invest emotionally in them and their way of doing things. I personally never enjoyed the Ruben Frank/ Dave Spadero segments on Michael Barkans’ Show. I thought they were fabricated to reflect the fiesty/ passionate character of the Philadelphia sports fan and ended up being ridiculously juvenile spats. That emotional investment by the viewer is a valuable asset which needs to be respected by the company which elicits it.
Surely, there are things that need to change but I feel a more measured approach would have served CSN better. I think BOB was a good idea. The format, personnel and time slot had a lot to do with it not being successful. It was uncomfortably ‘stiff’ in its format and presentation. I think The Dan Patrick Show is a great model of how to transcend the gender gap in sports on TV/Radio. I agree with you about Michael Barkan and his ease with the incorporation of the many streams of information. I enjoy his easy going yet confident style of hosting..
What is happening to CSN sports, (NBC influence, maybe), is akin to what’s happening in sports today generally…. everything is metrics and analytics, a business calculation. Not all things lend themselves to that being the main or only focus for executive decision making. Sports teams and the groups who report on them are organic and are more about personalities, chemistry, confidence, leadership and always talent.
Thank you for the article.
I agree with a lot here. CSN is going in a strange direction. They’ve jettisoned or not renewed the contracts of some of their more household names while at the same time embracing the debate format of sports TV with often out-of-their-element personalities. ESPN is doing the exact opposite. Sure, they laid off a bunch of their big-name reporters, but they’re literally building their lineup around personalities. CSN, it seems, only lets personalities shine if they’re boxed into a debate segment and a relaxed-fit sweater.
More credit goes to ESPN for dumping more money into 30 for 30 and Outside The Lines. Ergo:
CSN doesn’t do regular programming like this. Not close. Relying on sports rights and post-game shows may be enough, but that doesn’t change the fact that there’s little else on the air that people like or need.
I used to think Comcast zapped the life out of everything, but NBC Sports Network’s EPL and hockey coverage is really good and natural. So it’s not like Comcast can’t put on quality sports programming. Things are never as good at the local level – take for example genuine talent Jillian Mele bouncing for FOX News – but certainly they can do better. I mean, the second slide on their video page is a banner featuring Sarah Baicker and Mele, BOTH OF WHOM DON’T WORK FOR THE NETWORK ANYMORE:
I watch Snapchats of John Gonzalez drinking Mai Tais on the beach. He couldn’t be further from that slim tie and Michael Barkann’s ever-upgraded iPad. Come on, guys. Get it together.