Under constant pressure from Disney executives and new competition, ESPN/ABC sports has turned to the basics to spice up their broadcasts this fall: more skin and more violence, and hopefully more viewers tuning in to their networks' broadcasts of college football.
The new marketing strategies include a variety of untested strategies designed to "not only catch the viewer's eye, but also their imagination," said Jon Skipper, Executive Vice President of Programming at ESPN. New additions to broadcasts have included:
--Slipping footage of animals attacking humans into live broadcasts. "We wanted a live, visual metaphor for what was happening on the field, so we went bold. Viewers have responded enthusiastically thus far to the device," says Skipper, who had no comment on the 3,728 complaints to the FCC following the inclusion of a graphic lion attack flashed on screen following a Patrick Willis sack in Sunday's Memphis/Ole Miss game.
"It's simple one-upsmanship," said Pablo Sinverguenza, executive director of programming for Fox Sports College division. "They heard we were showing a bear mauling a man following sacks, so they pre-empt and go lion attack. It's the sincerest form of flattery, really, but now we have to top it. We're looking around for some good shark attack footage, since we can't rely on the football-playing robot graphics forever."
The next wave in in-game graphics.
--Revamping announcers clothing and even appearances. "Part of expanding your audience is stocking the frame with something for everyone. We thought we might create value in every part of the game by giving not only our male viewers something to look at, but bringing women into the fold as well with some of the obvious physical charisma of our announcers."
As a part of this strategy ESPN has the Gameday Crew broadcasting shirtless from most games, though for colder games a lumber-jack themed skin-tight flannel-fleece combo will be utilized.
"I love 'em," says Lee Corso. "For years I've dealt with body issues and the shame that comes with them. Now I to have the chance to finally show that an older man can be just as sexy as a younger man. Plus my tan's really improved as a result."
Lee Corso relaxes in his new on-screen duds.
Not all ESPN/ABC employees have embraced the move, however. Sideline commentator Holly Rowe protested and resigned when asked to broadcast while wearing a mask that resembled former CBS broadcaster Jill Arrington. Under threat of legal action by Rowe, ABC reached a compromise with the host, who will instead be shown now only from great distances while standing next to large objects like grain silos, stadiums, or Mark Mangino.
This move in particular pleased viewer Chad Brentley of Dallas, Texas. "I'm so sick of that fat bitch," said the 225 pound, 5'7" Brentley as he finished off the last of 24 Teriyaki Chicken Wings at the local favorite "The Wing Dynasty." "She's like a moped, right? You know what I mean! Right? I just don't think I have to look at that on television." Brentley said he liked the new moves ESPN had made, and then ordered a fried onion blossom and another beer from the bar.
Another complaint has come from veteran broadcaster Brent Musburger. He objected to his new broadcast uniform, though Musberger did wear what Skipper called "a police tribute" throughout the Notre Dame/Georgia Tech broadcast on September 2nd.
"And here I was thinking the old blue CBS jackets were a bit tacky. I think I look like fucking rough trade in that shit," says Brent Musberger. "I do the Little League World Series for them. I do bowling, for christ's sake. I crawl in the gutter of ABC Sports to get back to the penthouse and they give me this to wear? Not that the old man can't flash some leg--believe me, with the work I do in the gym on this old house I like to show off the goods--but they don't come for free and they certainly don't come without the man named Brent seeing some extra green or tail at the end of the day, pardner. No sir. You can find me at the Pig 'N Whistle. I'll be the one wearing pants, thank you very much."
In response, Skipper said he respected Musburger's views but vowed to address these issues with Musburger as soon as possible.
Musburger, unhappy in his new duds.