Monday, January 2, 2012

NBC Sports Network Could Be Healthy for Everyone

By John Maroon

This afternoon the little known sports network, Versus, was re-branded as the NBC Sports Network. This is shaping up to be exciting and could, ultimately, cut into ESPN’s dominance as the driving force behind all sports coverage.

Initially, the primary programming on NBCSN will be the NHL, Major League Soccer and the Tour de France as well as a few hours of NBC’s 2012 Olympics coverage. Don’t snicker at those non-major sports. Any of us old enough to remember ESPN’s early days recall a lot of billiards and rodeo before they started cracking into the big time…and the difference is that NBCSN has the power of NBC and Comcast behind them and it doesn’t get much bigger than that.

I hope that they make great strides and provide more options for our sports news. As much as I love ESPN (and I LOVE ESPN!) it is a good thing for them to not necessarily dictate all of the sports news and decide what is and what isn’t newsworthy. It will be good for ESPN too…competition is always positive…it keeps us sharp and creative.

ESPN will always be ESPN and we will tune in and love them, but NBCSN has a chance to make a difference and be a player in a one horse town when it comes to sports reporting. Other networks like Fox and Turner have brilliant sports coverage but they don’t have their own all sports network to tout.

No one news-gathering agency should ever be the lone voice determining news and that is what has happened with ESPN. They are great at it but it just isn’t how it should work.

Back in the 1970’s when newspapers were all powerful one stood above the rest, the New York Times. When they reported on something significant, the following day all the other news gathering agencies would do follow up reports on the Times’ story.

It came to be known as the New York Times effect. Today we have the ESPN effect. If they report on a potential coaching change, off field incident or trade rumor, almost immediately other outlets will report and build upon their story.

Here’s hoping that NBC Sports Network makes some noise and captures our attention and that ESPN continues to work hard and maintain their status as the worldwide leader in sports… if they compete the way the people they cover do, we, the fans, end up winning.

John Maroon is President of Maroon PR.  Contact him at

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