ESPN: We all live in sports towns (And tell great jokes)
It’s the classic media story — and this one even involved a stint driving through nearly every little town in Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Mississippi to sell this odd new 24-hour sports network to cable distributors.
Here’s one thing he’s learned: Every town thinks it’s a sports town. Sort of like everybody thinks they have a good sense of humor.
As he said at the Global Media Summit:
Every town I pulled into, I was calling cable operators. They’d say ‘Hey George, your idea is a little crazy. And we’re glad you’re here — but this is a sports town.’ I’m telling you from experience every town in the United States, and maybe the world, I don’t think that’s an overstatement, considers itself a sports town. People always said we’re in a niche business. If we’re in a niche, we’re in a mighty big niche.”
And that hasn’t changed. Indeed, given the downturn in the economy, people may be more sports-crazed than ever, he said.
I think sports is a little bit of comfort food to people in the United States and indeed around the world. It’s why there’s a lot of fans. It takes you to a different place. There’s a beginning, a middle and an end. You see an outcome. The value is only going to grow in the DVR world and the ‘I gotta have everything in two minutes world.’ I just think live sports are going to continue to be a bit of an oasis in be a good driver for the media business.
Given that, it’s no surprise that ESPN wants to launch even more of its local sites — starting with LA and New York. And moving to… Texarkana?