The ESPYs are coming to ABC

Sections: Award Shows, TV

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espy-logoDisney-ABC TV has announced that the 2015 ESPY Awards will air in prime time on ABC instead of it’s usual (and logical) home at ESPN.  The ESPYs is a contrived award show that gives jocks and sportscasters an excuse to get dressed up and crack jokes about each other; perfect programming for a sports network. So why the change in venue? Well, two reasons really…

#1 The value of live programming – In an era where Netflix and DVRs have been whittling away at ad revenue, one bastion that broadcasters still have is “one-time” live events. You can always watch Grey’s Anatomy on Hulu or TIVO Shark Tank but you want to be tuned in when your team scores at the last second or an envelope gets opened and someone says: “The winner is…”. Having an exclusive live event presents an opportunity to bump up ad rates and one broadcasters need to maximize. While ESPN is one of the more popular cable networks, reaching about 80% of homes in the US, that still leaves about 22 million homes out of the loop. That’s a lot of eyeballs and eyeballs equal dollars when it comes to selling advertising.

#2 Broadening the demographics – ABC has been trying for awhile to expand the market for sports beyond the typical audience of males age 25-55. There’s a common saying in business: “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.” One problem sports programming has is that it pretty much maxed-out the Dude Demo, so in order to grow the audience broadcasters need to court non-sports fans. (read: women) That’s why we now have people like Katy Perry and Bruno Mars playing at the Super Bowl. This is also why producers constantly try and shoe-horn human interest stories in during games, thus when there is a timeout we get footage of an athlete at home with his family or a group of players in the locker room singing together. The real sports fans watching would be more than happy to just see 10 different camera angles of the last play. Well, you know what non-sports fans really love? Award shows. Having LeBron James in a tuxedo reading jokes from a teleprompter in a time slot usually occupied by shows like Modern Family is a sneaky way to get your Aunt Linda to care about the NBA.

You know if the networks really want more people to care about sports, I’ve got an even better plan than moving the ESPYs…

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