Wednesday, June 11, 2014

ESPN Getting Cozy With MSNBC?

When Dan Patrick began the second incarnation of his radio show, post-ESPN, he faced undeserved heat from the empire he most commonly refers to as "The Mothership." ESPN wouldn't let The DP Show include any of their employees as guests. It was a policy which reeked of bitterness and stupidity but it wasn't something which was mutually-exclusive to Keith Olbermann's better half.

ESPN didn't want to aide it's competition by allowing their employees to appear on non-ESPN shows or by allowing competitors on ESPN's shows either. Fortunately, things have changed over the years with ESPN's management. They've relaxed these policies and they're now sharing their wealth of talent with the entire media universe. Just over the past couple of weeks, Dan Patrick has featured Dan Le Batard, Sage Steele and Bomani Jones on his show.

The Connecticut-based sports empire has used unique ways to showcase their various faces for show and tell. ESPN has befriended national publications such as The Wrap, Hollywood Reporter and USA Today to promote their latest shows, products and personalities. The most intriguing move I've seen though is the proliferation of ESPN personalities on MSNBC.

Sports have played a role in the national conversation lately with all of the controversy surrounding Donald Sterling (which explains why MSNBC would need a guest/panelist from ESPN in the first place). But, it's still intriguing to me that MSNBC has relied on ESPN's personalities giving their perspectives when NBC has it's own sports department and their own personalities who're also capable of weighing in on issues (and need as much promotion as possible to have any chance at rivaling ESPN).

Over the last year, MSNBC has featured ESPN personalities such as:
  • Jeremy Schaap
  • Sage Steele
  • Jemele Hill (6 appearances)
  • Cari Champion 
  • Jon Gruden
  • Andy Katz
  • Michael Smith (2 appearances)
  • Matthew Berry
I personally love the idea of seeing cross-network appearances once in a while because you're seeing personalities interact with each other who wouldn't normally do so due to their places of employment. I'm just intrigued in the fact that it has happened so often in this scenario. 

Here's a list of the NBC Sports employees who've appeared on MSNBC during the same time period:
  • Anita Marks
  • Jimmy Roberts
  • Bob Costas
  • Jordan Schultz
  • Rob Simmelkjaer
The most recent appearance happened recently on "All In With Chris Hayes". Jeremy Schaap was a guest on the show promoting an E:60 report he conducted about World Cup workers being taken advantage of in Qatar. This type of story is definitely interesting to MSNBC's prominently liberal audience due to the implications it has on worker's rights. 

It makes me wonder if ESPN would consider collaborating with MSNBC on these types of stories which delve into the intersection between sports and politics since they've seem to become so cozy.

It wouldn't be unprecedented considering ESPN almost collaborated with PBS on a documentary involving football player concussions, although I'm sure ABC News would reject any type of partnership between a major rival and their corporate cousin.

I also wonder whether these appearances are just another perk involved in the trade which ESPN and NBC agreed to earlier this year involving Michelle Beadle and Ryder Cup cable rights?

** It should be noted that other ESPN personalities have appeared on other cable news networks as well. Stephen A. Smith was on Anderson Cooper 360 on May 23rd and May 29th discussing the Donald Sterling situation.

ESPN spokesperson David Scott responded to this story with the following:
We have no problem allowing our talent on other networks and if there’s been an “increase” as you claim, it’s due to the recent news cycles that have caught the attention of news networks. When big sports stories break, ESPN’s experts are in high demand because of their insight and depth of knowledge they provide daily to fans of ESPN.

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