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It’s Time For ESPN To Tell Tim Tebow He Can’t Have It All

It is time for ESPN to look the Heisman Trophy winner in the eye and say “What is going on here? Are you a broadcaster or are we still cosplaying as an athlete? It is a little hard to do both well.”

Demetri Ravanos




I will admit that I am not a Tim Tebow fan. That comes from being a Bama fan. Tebow, Urban Meyer, and those Florida teams were the first dragons to be slayed in order for the Saban era to reach the level of dominance that was promised when the University first shelled out all that money to lure Nick Saban away from the Miami Dolphins.

I’ve never unabashedly hated Tim Tebow either. I never thought he was a good quarterback, but it was always clear that he was an exceptional athlete and locker room presence. I got why a coach would want the guy on his team and would invest a lot to help Tebow succeed.

The 10 best plays of Florida Gators legend Tim Tebow's college career

Now though, it is time for Tebow’s newest team to hold his feet to the fire. It is time for ESPN to look the Heisman Trophy winner in the eye and say “What is going on here? Are you a broadcaster or are we still cosplaying as an athlete? It is a little hard to do both well.”

First, the network made exceptions and worked around schedules so it was possible for Tebow to sign a minor league contract with the New York Mets. Now, after “retiring from baseball,” the 33-year-old wants to go back to the NFL, only this time he plans to listen to scouts that said he should have converted to tight end more than a decade ago. And hey, wouldn’t you know it! His old college coach just so happens to be the new coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. What a happy coincidence!

Don’t be surprised that Tim Tebow got a tryout with the team. You can be annoyed by it, like FOX Sports Radio’s Rob Parker was. Just don’t be surprised by it. Tim Tebow has a way of getting what he wants.

Remember, this is a guy that had an entire state change its laws to allow him to play football at a public high school even though he was homeschooled. He got signed to play professional baseball at age 29, after not having played the sport since he was 16. Tim Tebow has never really had to learn what disappointment feels like. Sure, his plan was to be an NFL quarterback, but that didn’t work out and he keeps finding very comfortable ways to cushion that particular fall.

When Parker talked about this on FOX Sports Radio, he didn’t mince words. He called Tebow “a FAILURE on the pro level” and “a loser”. He said Tim Tebow even getting to try out for a tight end role at age 33 is “the ultimate “White Privilege.”

Rob Parker (@RobParkerFS1) | Twitter

I sent Parker an email to ask him why he thought the Mets didn’t tell Tebow they weren’t interested in having him as a baseball side show. Why did he think the Jaguars weren’t willing to say that they weren’t interested in developing a tight end that at best could give them maybe three seasons.

“It seems unfair that opportunities are always open for Tebow and not other athletes, especially when he’s getting chances after being far removed from sports,” Parker told me. “He hasn’t played in NFL since 2012 and has never played tight end, but Jacksonville has a spot for him.”

It also seems unfair that Tebow gets to jump from sports fairytale to sports fairytale while holding down a job most former college football players not on NFL rosters would be willing to devote their whole lives to. 

ESPN made a major investment in Tebow after his NFL days were done. It made a lot of sense because it coincided with the launch of the SEC Network. Paul Finebaum was going to be the network’s anchor, but Tim Tebow was going to be its face. And what better face could you find really? This is one of the league’s biggest stars of the last decade and he was available.

Tebow re-ups with ESPN to be analyst for SEC Network

The problem is Tim Tebow is as good of a broadcaster as he was an NFL quarterback. I get that the guy is a cult of personality. I just don’t ever feel like I am learning anything when he is speaking. Whereas guys like Dan Orlovsky, Kirk Herbstriet, and Desmond Howard are great at telling me why plays are run or decisions are made, Tebow just sort of delivers platitudes. Is that really worth making concessions for?

Lauren Brooks, who co-hosts The Frangie Show and Helmets and Heels at Jacksonville’s 1010 XL disagrees with me.

“I think Tebow is an excellent college football analyst,” she told me. “He brings a tremendous amount of energy and you can tell he is very well-prepared. I always enjoy his work on TV.”

Brooks is a Florida fan. I asked her if the constant flirtations with “getting back in the game” had ruined Tebow’s reputation with a fan base that holds him up as something of a second mascot (third if you count Alberta Gator and fourth if you count Steve Spurrier).

She told me that it doesn’t change her opinion of Tim Tebow at all, but the timing feels odd.

Lauren Brooks on Twitter: "@1010XL I'm so grateful to be a part of the  station!!!"

“I would have loved for Tebow to switch to TE when he was still on an active roster so we could see whether he would have a penchant for the position.  I wasn’t surprised that he wanted to try his hand at baseball since he had played that before, but I was very surprised to hear he wants to play football again, especially that he’d be willing to play TE since he is involved in many philanthropic efforts and also works for SEC Nation.”

Parker also isn’t surprised and he isn’t so sure that ESPN should be upset about Tebow being interested in playing again, even if it means that he isn’t always available to them.

“Tebow bouncing from TV to the field isn’t new. A lot of former athletes/executives go there and wait for a chance to get back in the game,” he said.

That is true. Just look at coaches alone. In its history, ESPN has lost Mack Brown, Herm Edwards, Jon Gruden, Chip Kelly, Urban Meyer, and Bob Davie to the sidelines. That’s a lot of guys and that is just what popped into my head.

I get that coaches that enter the media usually come into their first job with the idea that it is only temporary. TV or radio is a waiting room until the next “real” opportunity comes along. That never felt like what ESPN was selling with Tim Tebow.

Look, I think if Tim Tebow were operating with just his brain, he would devote himself to broadcasting. He has natural charisma. Remember when Clay Travis asked him if he was a virgin at SEC Media Days in 2009? The dude handled it better than anyone would have ever expected a 21 year old to. If he put in the time and took the coaching to heart, he could be an absolute super star.

Unfortunately, we don’t always think with our heads. Most people, particularly those that are über-competitive, tend to let their hearts get in the way. In his heart, Tebow is still a football player and he wants another shot to suit up on Sundays.

“If the story had broken any other day/time, it would have been gigantic; however, it broke around 3 pm on Draft Day, a.k.a. Trevor Lawrence Day in Jacksonville,” Brooks told me when I asked how Jacksonville reacted to the idea of Tim Tebow in black and teal. “Plus, right after the Tebow tryout news came out, the news broke that Aaron Rodgers doesn’t want to play for the Packers anymore and swallowed up the story that the former Florida QB could possibly switch to TE at age 33.  Local sports radio is still discussing the story since additional comments have been made that lead many to believe that Tebow will at least be practicing with the Jaguars at training camp, especially since the Jaguars didn’t draft a pass-catching TE in the Draft.”

Tim Tebow has painted himself into an odd corner right now. He is 33, so while Florida fans and college football fans may want to see him make the Jags’ roster, it feels like a long shot at best. He also treats TV like a part-time job, so if ESPN wants to play hardball, he is expendable.

Tim Tebow Official Website | The Online Home of Tim Tebow

In football years, 33 is ancient and Tebow is starting from zero in this new venture. In broadcasting years, 33 represents the sun just beginning to peak over the horizon. Tebow has shown that while he still has plenty of room to improve, he has the tools to do it. The choice should be obvious.

BSM Writers

The Future Is Now, Embrace Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV+

As annoying as streaming sports is and as much as I haven’t fully adapted to the habit yet, Amazon and Apple have done a magnificent job of trying to make the process as easy and simplified as possible.

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This week has been a reckoning for sports and its streaming future on Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV+, ESPN+, and more.

Amazon announced that Thursday Night Football, which averaged 13 million viewers, generated the highest number of U.S. sign ups over a three hour period in the app’s history. More people in the United States subscribed to Prime during the September 15th broadcast than they did during Black Friday, Prime Day, and Cyber Monday. It was also “the most watched night of primetime in Prime Video’s history,” according to Amazon executive Jay Marine. The NFL and sports in general have the power to move mountains even for some of the nation’s biggest and most successful brands.

This leads us to the conversation happening surrounding Aaron Judge’s chase for history. Judge has been in pursuit of former major leaguer Roger Maris’ record for the most home runs hit during one season in American League history.

The sports world has turned its attention to the Yankees causing national rights holders such as ESPN, Fox, and TBS to pick up extra games in hopes that they capture the moment history is made. Apple TV+ also happened to have a Yankees game scheduled for Friday night against the Red Sox right in the middle of this chase for glory.

Baseball fans have been wildin’ out at the prospects of missing the grand moment when Judge passes Maris or even the moments afterwards as Judge chases home run number 70 and tries to truly create monumental history of his own. The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand has even reported there were talks between YES, MLB, and Apple to bring Michael Kay into Apple’s broadcast to call the game, allow YES Network to air its own production of the game, or allow YES Network to simulcast Apple TV+’s broadcast. In my opinion, all of this hysteria is extremely bogus.

As annoying as streaming sports is and as much as I haven’t fully adapted to the habit yet, Amazon and Apple have done a magnificent job of trying to make the process as easy and simplified as possible. Amazon brought in NBC to help with production of TNF and if you watch the flow of the broadcast, the graphics of the broadcast, NBC personalities like Michael Smith, Al Michaels, and Terry McAuliffe make appearances on the telecast – it is very clear that the network’s imprint is all over the show.

NBC’s experience in conducting the broadcast has made the viewing experience much more seamless. Apple has also used MLB Network and its personalities for assistance in ensuring there’s no major difference between what you see on air vs. what you’re streaming.

Amazon and Apple have also decided to not hide their games behind a paywall. Since the beginning of the season, all of Apple’s games have been available free of charge. No subscription has ever been required. As long as you have an Apple device and can download Apple TV+, you can watch their MLB package this season.

Guess what? Friday’s game against the Red Sox is also available for free on your iPhone, your laptop, or your TV simply by downloading the AppleTV app. Amazon will also simulcast all Thursday Night Football games on Twitch for free. It may be a little harder or confusing to find the free options, but they are out there and they are legal and, once again, they are free.

Apple has invested $85 million into baseball, money that will go towards your team becoming better hypothetically. They’ve invested money towards creating a new kind of streaming experience. Why in the hell would they offer YES Network this game for free? There’s no better way for them to drive subscriptions to their product than by offering fans a chance at watching history on their platform.

A moment like this are the main reason Apple paid for rights in the first place. When Apple sees what the NFL has done for Amazon in just one week and coincidentally has the ability to broadcast one of the biggest moments in baseball history – it would be a terrible business decision to let viewers watch it outside of the Apple ecosystem and lose the ability to gain new fans.

It’s time for sports fans to grow up and face reality. Streaming is here to stay. 

MLB Network is another option

If you don’t feel like going through the hassle of watching the Yankees take on the Red Sox for free on Apple TV+, MLB Network will also air all of Judge’s at bats live as they are happening. In case the moment doesn’t happen on Apple TV+ on Friday night, Judge’s next games will air in full on MLB Network (Saturday), ESPN (Sunday), MLB Network again (Monday), TBS (Tuesday) and MLB Network for a third time on Wednesday. All of MLB Network’s games will be simulcast of YES Network’s local New York broadcast. It wouldn’t shock me to see Fox pick up another game next Thursday if the pursuit still maintains national interest.

Quick bites

  • One of the weirdest things about the experience of streaming sports is that you lose the desire to channel surf. Is that a good thing or bad thing? Brandon Ross of LightShed Ventures wonders if the difficulty that comes with going from app to app will help Amazon keep viewers on TNF the entire time no matter what the score of the game is. If it does, Amazon needs to work on developing programming to surround the games or start replaying the games, pre and post shows so that when you fall asleep and wake up you’re still on the same stream on Prime Video or so that coming to Prime Video for sports becomes just as much of a habit for fans as tuning in to ESPN is.
  • CNN has announced the launch of a new morning show with Don Lemon, Poppy Harlow and Kaitlin Collins. Variety reports, “Two people familiar with plans for the show say it is likely to use big Warner Bros. properties — a visit from the cast of HBO’s Succession or sports analysis from TNT’s NBA crew — to lure eyeballs.” It’ll be interesting to see if Turner Sports becomes a cornerstone of this broadcast. Will the NBA start doing schedule releases during the show? Will a big Taylor Rooks interview debut on this show before it appears on B/R? Will the Stanley Cup or Final Four MVP do an interview on CNN’s show the morning after winning the title? Does the show do remote broadcasts from Turner’s biggest sports events throughout the year?
  • The Clippers are back on over the air television. They announced a deal with Nexstar to broadcast games on KTLA and other Nexstar owned affiliates in California. The team hasn’t reached a deal to air games on Bally Sports SoCal or Bally Sports Plus for the upcoming season. Could the Clippers pursue a solo route and start their own OTT service in time for the season? Are they talking to Apple, Amazon, or ESPN about a local streaming deal? Is Spectrum a possible destination? I think these are all possibilities but its likely that the Clippers end up back on Bally Sports since its the status quo. I just find it interesting that it has taken so long to solidify an agreement and that it wasn’t announced in conjunction with the KTLA deal. The Clippers are finally healthy this season, moving into a new arena soon, have the technology via Second Spectrum to produce immersive game casts. Maybe something is brewing?
  • ESPN’s Monday Night Football double box was a great concept. The execution sucked. Kudos to ESPN for adjusting on the fly once complaints began to lodge across social media. I think the double box works as a separate feed. ESPN2 should’ve been the home to the double box. SVP and Stanford Steve could’ve held a watch party from ESPN’s DC studio with special guests. The double box watch party on ESPN2 could’ve been interrupted whenever SVP was giving an update on games for ESPN and ABC. It would give ESPN2 a bit of a behind the scenes look at how the magic happens similarly to what MLB Tonight did last week. Credit to ESPN and the NFL for experimenting and continuing to try and give fans unique experiences.

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BSM Writers

ESPN Shows Foresight With Monday Night Football Doubleheader Timing

ESPN is obviously testing something, and it’s worth poking around at why the network wouldn’t follow the schedule it has used for the last 16 years, scheduling kickoffs at 7 and then 10 on their primary channel.

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The Monday Night Football doubleheader was a little bit different this time around for ESPN.

First, it came in Week 2 instead of Week 1. And then, the games were staggered 75 minutes apart on two different channels, the Titans and Bills beginning on ESPN at 7:15 PM ET and the Vikings at the Eagles starting at 8:30 PM on ABC and ESPN+. This was a departure from the usual schedule in which the games kicked off at 7:00 PM ET and then 10:00 PM ET with the latter game on the West Coast.

ESPN is obviously testing something, and it’s worth poking around at why the network wouldn’t follow the schedule it has used for the last 16 years, scheduling kickoffs at 7:00 PM and then 10:00 PM ET on their primary channel. That’s the typical approach, right? The NFL is the most valuable offering in all of sports and ESPN would have at least six consecutive hours of live programming without any other game to switch to.

Instead, they staggered the starts so the second game kicked off just before the first game reached halftime. They placed the games on two different channels, which risked cannibalizing their audience. Why? Well, it’s the same reason that ESPN was so excited about the last year’s Manningcast that it’s bringing it back for 10 weeks this season. ESPN is not just recognizing the reality of how their customers behave, but they’re embracing it.

Instead of hoping with everything they have that the customer stays in one place for the duration of the game, they’re recognizing the reality that they will leave and providing another product within their portfolio to be a destination when they do.

It’s the kind of experiment everyone in broadcasting should be investigating because, for all the talk about meeting the customer where they are, we still tend to be a little bit stubborn about adapting to what they do. 

Customers have more choices than ever when it comes to media consumption. First, cable networks softened the distribution advantages of broadcast networks, and now digital offerings have eroded the distribution advantages of cable networks. It’s not quite a free-for-all, but the battle for viewership is more intense, more wide open than ever because that viewer has so many options of not just when and where but how they will consume media.

Programmers have a choice in how to react to this. On the one hand, they can hold on tighter to the existing model and try to squeeze as much out of it as they can. If ESPN was thinking this way it would stack those two Monday night games one after the other just like it always has and hope like hell for a couple of close games to juice the ratings. Why would you make it impossible for your customer to watch both of these products you’ve paid so much to televise?

I’ve heard radio programmers and hosts recite take this same approach for more than 10 years now when it comes to making shows available on-demand. Why would you give your customers the option of consuming the product in a way that’s not as remunerative or in a way that is not measured?

That thinking is outdated and it is dangerous from an economic perspective because it means you’re trying to make the customer behave in your best interest by restricting their choices. And maybe that will work. Maybe they like that program enough that they’ll consume it in the way you’d prefer or maybe they decide that’s inconvenient or annoying or they decide to try something else and now this customer who would have listened to your product in an on-demand format is choosing to listen to someone else’s product entirely.

After all, you’re the only one that is restricting that customer’s choices because you’re the only one with a desire to keep your customer where he is. Everyone else is more than happy to give your customer something else. 

There’s a danger in holding on too tightly to the existing model because the tighter you squeeze, the more customers will slip through your fingers, and if you need a physical demonstration to complete this metaphor go grab a handful of sand and squeeze it hard.

Your business model is only as good as its ability to predict the behavior of your customers, and as soon as it stops doing that, you need to adjust that business model. Don’t just recognize the reality that customers today will exercise the freedom that all these media choices provide, embrace it.

Offer more products. Experiment with more ways to deliver those products. The more you attempt to dictate the terms of your customer’s engagement with your product, the more customers you’ll lose, and by accepting this you’ll open yourself to the reality that if your customer is going to leave your main offering, it’s better to have them hopping to another one of your products as opposed to leaving your network entirely.

Think in terms of depth of engagement, and breadth of experience. That’s clearly what ESPN is doing because conventional thinking would see the Manningcast as a program that competes with the main Monday Night Football broadcast, that cannibalizes it. ESPN sees it as a complimentary experience. An addition to the main broadcast, but it also has the benefit that if the customer feels compelled to jump away from the main broadcast – for whatever reason – it has another ESPN offering that they may land on.

I’ll be watching to see what ESPN decides going forward. The network will have three Monday Night Football doubleheaders beginning next year, and the game times have not been set. Will they line them up back-to-back as they had up until this year? If they do it will be a vote of confidence that its traditional programming approach that evening is still viable. But if they overlap those games going forward, it’s another sign that less is not more when it comes to giving your customers a choice in products.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: Sunday Ticket Has Problems, Marcellus Wiley Does Not

Demetri Ravanos




On this episode of Media Noise, Demetri is joined by Brian Noe to talk about the wild year FS1’s Marcellus Wiley has had and by Garrett Searight to discuss the tumultuous present and bright future of NFL Sunday Ticket.






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