Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

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

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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.”

ABC: Don’t you know that I’m still in love with news?

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I asked ABC TV chief Anne Sweeney at our Global Media Summit on Monday whether the nightly news broadcast will go away someday soon. Everyone who follows the broadcast TV business has wondered this at some time or another, particularly as fewer people tune in.

Here’s a bit of that conversation, where I got Sweeney to firmly say… not much. If you’re in a rush, the general message appears to be:

ABC TV chief to daughter: You *will* watch television

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When I went to college in 1991, I begged my parents to buy me a small television for my dorm room (They wouldn’t let me work during my first year of college, so I had no money). How things have changed in 18 years!

I learned how much they changed at the first day of the Reuters Global Media Summit. Anne Sweeney, president of the Disney/ABC Television Group, was talking to us about how quickly the Internet and mobile technology are changing the way that we look at news and entertainment. That led to her divertimento into campus life:

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