And just like that, the last shred of ESPN's previous glory days is completely gone from the picture.
They really aren't all that different.
Don't get me wrong, ESPN has grown into a hackneyed, tiresome elephant that isn't getting any better. I watch the sporting events they carry, and I occasionally watch an Outside the Lines piece. But, the ESPN as I and many others knew it is gone.
But my feelings are different than most who hate what ESPN has become. You know why? Because there are a million other places to get what I need sports-wise. When it was born, ESPN was the sole national sports news provider. There was little choice about where to get your sports information outside of the local newscast's three-minute sports bit or tomorrow's newspaper. The innovation they provided will always be felt. But, because of that innovation, everyone else eventually figured out that it would be a good idea to jump on and start mass broadcasting sports.
Now that ESPN has become fat and happy, they have ceased to possess the edge that once made them great. But, I'll end my criticism there. ESPN can do what they wish, and getting angry about it is absolutely pointless. For every angry blogger that makes a list of all the reasons why ESPN sucks, there are ten fat, happy television watchers who don't mind hearing Stuart Scott or Chris Berman speak nonsense. For every overESPNed sports fan out there that is appalled by the asinine segment currently running called "Who's Now?", there is a viewer who is just fine with consuming it.
The funniest part of this is that it all seems eerily similar. Know why? MTV did the exact same thing.
Once upon a time, MTV was badass. Programming was rife with music videos, music shows, edgy cartoons and the occasional Real World (which at the time was the only reality show, and thus acceptable). Then, something changed. MTV started cutting back on its music-based programming and started to focus more on reality shows, comedy programs and popular culture shows. As MTV was in the process of transitioning out of being a majority music-based network, they added M2, which eventually became MTV2. They transitioned most of their music-based programming to M2, and those that were lucky enough to get M2 on their cable package could still watch shows like 120 Minutes, Yo! MTV Raps and Amp. Eventually MTV2 transitioned into a slightly tweaked version of late-1990s MTV and became full of spare crap like its parent company. Now they are basically the same network with a few different shows. MTV puts more focus on the TV than the M, and that's fine. They found the audience that would make them buckets of money and stuck with it. That's called being a smart business.
The beauty about the time frame of MTV's transition out of being a music-based network was the rise of the Internet. Now, instead of waiting on 120 Minutes to tell me a new Jon Spencer Blues Explosion or Faith No More album was coming out, I could get on the Internet and find out everything I needed to know. In the past few years, with the advent of Youtube, even having a network to broadcast music videos has become obsolete. You can find them all on the Internet already and watch exactly the ones you want to see without wading through the occasional terrible one as you used to have to do when MTV still showed music.
As time progressed, ESPN found their niche also. They have found that following the E, P and N in their name will make them more money than the S. If that's how they find success, then let them go right ahead. Just don't believe them when they purport to put their journalism first, because that is an obvious lie. But the beauty of it all is that we don't have to get our sports news from ESPN anymore. In essence, ESPN's change and MTV's have been the same, and the world's information consumption has transitioned with it.
So, my recommendation to those of you who are fed up with ESPN's mediocre-to-bad programming: start watching ESPNews, a Fox Sports affiliate or the Internet. Lord know there's plenty out there to consume.