Thursday, 4 September 2003

ESPN's shameless self-plugging

I’m starting to wonder whether SportsCenter is a sports highlights show or merely a daily hour-long infomercial for their new drama series, Playmakers. Over the past two weeks, several segments have basically been undisguised promos for Playmakers and its “realism,” to the point that former (and now-deceased) Ole Miss defender Chuckie Mullins, paralyzed on the field like one of the characters in the series, was dragged out of the grave as evidence of the program’s “ripped from the headlines” approach to the game—despite its lengthy disclaimer that alleges that the program isn’t simply a Tim Green book with the ISBN number filed off.

If the drafting of SportsCenter into the self-promotion campaign wasn’t enough, both Bob “I wish I was as famous as Berman” Ley and Jeremy “Not my dad” Schapp’s “serious” newsmagazine Outside the Lines was dragged into the plug-fest, including a 30-second promo for the show read by Schapp in one of those “I wish I wasn’t here” voices.

Disney’s use of its airwaves during “news” programming to promote its other properties (starting with ABC, and now increasingly on ESPN) is becoming egregious to the point of resembling the behavior of affiliates desparate for “tie-in” stories on the late news. My advice would be to quit while they still have some news credibility left.