Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

ESPN: We all live in sports towns (And tell great jokes)

ESPN President George Bodenheimer has been at the business of TV sports, one way or another, for nearly three decades, starting in the mailroom and working his way up.

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.”