Wednesday, April 09, 2008


I watch an inordinate amount of ESPNEWS. Not so much now, but usually over the summer, with nothing else to do, I'll leave it on for background noise. I like the fact that when there is something happening immediately, like a press conference or whatever, usually I can turn it on and I'll know they won't cut away from it. I also depend on their crawl for all of the scores for my baseball pool.

With the baseball season well underway, I've been watching ESPNEWS more lately. I don't usually watch for highlights, though I catch a lot of what I miss flipping from game to game while they show the highlights while I'm looking for my scores. It gives me what I need without ever having to watch SportsCenter, which I haven't enjoyed since I was 15. So I knew this change was coming - it didn't blindside me - but I didn't think it was necessary - a big format change that falls under the "If it wasn't broke, why did you fix it?" category.
I didn't think there was anything wrong with ESPNEWS when it was the orangey screen (on the left). They showed the scores I needed, and they had the appropriate content on the air. I don't have an HDTV, so the fact that it wasn't available in high definition didn't bother me. Now, the screen is heavy on the blue (on the right), there are more crowded graphics, but it still gives me the scores I need, so I don't mind that much.

What bothers me is that in doing this drastic change, ESPN took something that didn't have many flaws, and made it worse (the graphics they put on there - the face of the person who the news on the crawl is about, or the logo of the team, for example - make it a very busy screen), and didn't fix the flaws that did exist. Here's what I mean:

1) I hate it that ESPNEWS has this great crawl, but airs commercials that require the crawl to be dropped (Looking your way, Bowflex). Everytime a score I need is nearing, I go into my chant: 'Don't drop the crawl, don't drop the crawl'. I shouldn't have to do that. The information should stay on my screen...and they should either show commercials that don't require the crawl to be dropped, or keep the crawl up, commercials be darned. (And, yes, I'm aware that they probably think I'll stay around to watch my score the next time around - I do - therefore, watching more of their content. And furthermore, the commercials are the ones paying the money. But I don't care.)

2) There's no rhyme or reason to the scores right now. They'll show NCAAM, then NBA, then NHL, then NCAAM, then NASCAR, then GOLF, then NCAAM, NBA, and NHL again all before the MLB comes up. I don't get it. Don't use me as a pawn to see all this other stuff - give me my friggin' scores. I don't need to see men's basketball three times before I find out how the Padres-Giants game turned out.

3) This is one of the most frustrating things. ESPNEWS was notorious enough for calling something "Breaking News" if it happened at 10am, keeping the news on the bottom right-hand side of the screen for hours, and at 10pm still having it labeled "Breaking News". Now, it's even worse - it takes up the bottom part of the screen as "Breaking News". Another case of breaking something that wasn't broken in the first pun intended.

I'm still watching, but it's tough - I have a feeling I'm going to have to solely rely on the SportCast Wireless Scoreboard soon enough for my baseball scores.

ONE MORE ESPN RANT WHILE I'M AT IT: Versus isn't completely innocent in this one, either, just to get that out there first. I was eagerly anticipating the NHL Playoffs beginning tonight, until I found out that the Ottawa-Pittsburgh game was on Versus. That means I needed to rely on DirecTV not blacking out MSG, where I was hoping to watch the Rangers-Devils series. Unfortunately, it was blacked out once 7pm hit. Now I have to figure out who to call and complain to - DirecTV, the NHL, or Versus. Because this is an instance that deserves a phone call or a letter. What other friggin' league blacks viewers out of their post-season? The most ridiculous thing I've ever seen. I need to rely on Versus!?! to show me the Rangers?!?! And now I have to make a phone call....I don't even like ordering a pizza on the phone. Stupid NHL. And I blame ESPN for not renewing its NHL contract - where I'd have more options - there's no such thing as Versus2. Not that I hold grudges or anything.

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