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Hollywood Reporter Sheds Light on ESPN Divide Over SC6

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A new story in the Hollywood Reporter written by Marissa Guthrie sheds some light on the behind the scenes drama that surrounded ESPN’s attempt to report the 6pm SportsCenter with Jemele Hill and Michael Smith. It’s something, she writes, that still has Bristol divided.

Internal discord over the 6 p.m. SportsCenterexperiment co-hosted by Jemele Hill and Michael Smith — and yanked after less than a year despite four-year deals worth $10 million each — still lingers.

The whole piece focuses on ESPN’s obsession with reversing the whole “MSESPN” image that Fox Sports Radio’s Clay Travis helped cement last year in his numerous media appearances and written pieces complaining of the network’s liberal bias. Travis is also the one who dubbed Hill and Smith’s take on SportsCenter as “WokeCenter,” which apparently was a real problem for some ESPN executives, who saw Hill’s exit as a good thing for the brand.

When Hill, who became a lightning rod with critics dubbing the show “WokeCenter,” left in February, Norby Williamson, ESPN’s executive vp and executive editor of studio production, quipped in front of a room full of people: “One down, one to go.” Four ESPN employees tell THR that Dave Roberts, ESPN’s vp content, was heard characterizing the show as “too black.” (Through a spokesperson, Roberts, who is African-American, vehemently denies saying this.)

Still, not everyone shared this opinion of Hill or Smith or their take on SportsCenter.

“It’s not that they were too woke, or too black, the problem was they were too new,” says a veteran senior executive. “They were too unfamiliar to the 6 p.m. audience. From the second they started they were up against internal crap, the traditionalists shitting on them, and they faced harsh criticism externally. It was panic from moment one. And the network didn’t do a good job of defending and supporting them.”

ESPN has attempted to remove any potential controversy from the SportsCenter brand by putting Sage Steele (who may step in some PR hot water from time to time, but those times are never on air) and Kevin Negandhi in the anchor chairs at 6pm. Guthrie also notes that in other areas, ESPN is adding conservative voices, particularly on First Take.

Among its biggest stars is First Take‘s Stephen A. Smith, who has professed support for Donald Trump, though not on every issue. Meanwhile, Will Cain, a conservative who has had stints at The Blaze and CNN and has been an ESPN contributor since 2015, got his own ESPN Radio program in January and is now part of the ESPN TV firmament. And Roberts, say three sources, has suggested replacing First Take moderator Molly Qerim with Cain.

Guthrie’s piece focuses on the factions within ESPN. She posits that there are people who believe a return to the opinion-less highlights-driven content the network was built on is the only way to survive. Others say that ESPN has to experiment to find its groove in a world that is full of more choices for sports fans. That is why Hill and Smith were allowed to try something new with SportsCenter. The same is true of Scott Van Pelt’s midnight show and the company’s investment in digital products like the Snapchat edition of SportsCenter or ESPN+.

“Norby is pushing antiquated SportsCenter stuff wherever he can,” says an on-air personality. “There are good creative people there. I don’t think it’s an accident that if you did a happiness quotient, the farther way from Bristol people are, the happier and the more productive they are.” Or as one source puts it: “It’s a battle for the soul of ESPN.”

You can read the full article here.

 

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Draymond Green, JJ Redick Sell Out Live Podcast Show

The show will collaborate for the first time and it will mark an interesting time in the thrusting of new media onto the public consciousness.

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Old Man Draymond

The two new and most visible faces of the new media influx have teamed up for a live show that will take place in New York City. Draymond Green and JJ Redick are bringing their respective podcasts to the stage for a live experience.

On Monday (June 27), Draymond Green’s The Draymond Green Show and JJ Redick’s The Old Man and the Three will seek to entertain an already sold out audience at The City Winery in New York City.

The show will collaborate for the first time and it will mark an interesting time in the thrusting of new media onto the public consciousness. JJ Redick has earned universal praise for how he has handled his career post-retirement from the NBA, including appear often opposite Stephen A. Smith on ESPN’s First Take as well as the network’s myriad of other programming.

Draymond Green has been very public with his podcast that has very publicly recorded episodes minutes after Warriors games. He has recently invoked his mantra that he isn’t a part of the media (despite signing a contract with Turner Sports and Colin Cowherd’s The Volume). Instead he insists he is a part of the aforementioned new media.

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Scott Van Pelt Not Hurt By Draymond Green’s “New Media” Comment

“He’s the one that said it. Isn’t he the one who said he’s new media? I was just trying to give him credit in saying, ‘Look, you now have control of your narrative and you can go do your podcast now.’”

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Scott Van Pelt

We have heard an awful lot in the fast month about “new media” with a large section of that discussion coming in regards to athletes in or formerly in the NBA. One such interaction was between a member of that new media and Scott Van Pelt.

After Game 5 of the NBA Finals, a victorious Draymond Green was interviewed on SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt. In the interview, Van Pelt asked Green about dealing with the outside “noise” around the Finals. After Green gave a to-be-expected type answer, Van Pelt followed-up with the initial comment that start a wave.

Van Pelt: You’re part of the media now and you get to control the conversation from your perspective and I know you’ll-

Green: New media.

He then corrected Van Pelt’s assertion that Green had stated Stephen A. Smith was new media by saying:

Green: And by the way go watch The Draymond Green Show. I said Stephen A. sometimes acts like the new media. Sometimes he doesn’t. That’s on you, but nonetheless, don’t just lump me in with media, baby. It’s the new media.

Scott Van Pelt appeared on the SI Media Podcast and was asked about this exchange.

“I didn’t get that,” Van Pelt said of Green’s resistance in being associated with the word “media.”

“He’s the one that said it. Isn’t he the one who said he’s new media? I was just trying to give him credit in saying, ‘Look, you now have control of your narrative and you can go do your podcast now.’”

Van Pelt went on about Green’s categorizing of Smith and other media as a separate column of media.

“I guess what Draymond actually said was sometimes he’s new media. I don’t give a shit who’s what…I think now as it relates to media, there’s no new and old because people that are in the old media are doing the new media and people that are in new media are cutting through in ways that people in old media didn’t think they ever would many years ago. I guess all I’m saying is whatever Stephen A. is, he exists in both lanes and Draymond, clearly his content cuts through on his podcast or with me.

I wasn’t hurt by it. I didn’t take it like he was mad at me. I was just correcting the semantics. It didn’t trouble me. Whatever. However Draymond frames what Stephen A. Smith is or what any of us are, it doesn’t feel important. I think it’s important he has that place where he wants to do his thing. And I think people are interested in hearing from the guy that was just out there not long after saying what he has to say.”

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Big Cat Asks For Listeners’ Help Booking Kevin Durant on Pardon My Take

“On a recent edition of the podcast, Big Cat talked about how the Brooklyn Nets star has continued to snub requests to come on the show.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Barstool’s Big Cat has been trying to book NBA star Kevin Durant on Pardon My Take for five years, but the former MVP just won’t say yes.

On a recent edition of the podcast, Big Cat talked about how the Brooklyn Nets star has continued to snub requests to come on the show.

“We want Kevin Durant on this show, and he has just alpha-ed me so hard at this point,” Big Cat said. “I need people to start replying to his tweets saying just go on Pardon My Take.”

It’s not like KD has given Big Cat the cold shoulder. Big Cat said Durant has responded to his DMs on Twitter before, even wishing him Happy Thanksgiving one year. But so far all attempts to get Durant on PMT have been futile.

“Maybe if we start getting some rings, then he’ll be like, ‘Yeah they’re an elite team, and I want to join up with them. And maybe I can help them win something,'” PFT Commenter said, referencing the fact that PMT is yet to be recognized with any podcasting awards.

Durant did more or less tell the podcast on Twitter he wasn’t interested on Wednesday.

Durant’s response probably still won’t deter Big Cat from trying to get Durant on the show, but at least they know where KD stands.

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