There are three things to remember every single Tuesday night when ESPN releases the updated College Football Playoff Rankings.
First, this endeavor only merits a tweet and press release, not an entire television show. Maybe you could stretch this out into a two or three minute desk segment, but that’s really pushing it.
Secondly, all the controversies, real as well as the contrived debates created and then amplified by ESPN, will sort themselves out in the end. There’s no real reason to care all that strongly about the rankings until the last week of the season or conference championship weekend.
Thirdly, ESPN wants as much controversy as possible regarding the college football playoff rankings, so they get as much attention as possible. This is for the ultimate aim of eventually expanding the field to eight and thus more games for them to broadcast and monetize.
So why is ESPN going out of their way to overhype and obnoxiously over-promote (even by a media company’s standards) something that is really a bunch of nothing?
The law of parsimony applies here. Bristol, has been well documented, paid a gazillion, billion dollars for those broadcast rights, the ratings for the semifinals played on New Year’s Eve tanked, and now they need to hard sell you on watching the football final four so they make up some ground. All the while the corporation is losing revenue from cord cutting, and they become even more desperate and obnoxious in cross-promotion and self-promotion than usual.
Remember, a television network is a being that’s…well, how can we put this delicately?
Take the most narcissistic, attention-whoring, always desperate for validation individual you could possibly think of.
Now multiply that times a million.
If this sounds like hyperbole, remember this fact- television networks employ lots of people to do nothing everyday except cherry-pick Nielsen numbers to then construct a masturbatory narrative and then spam journalists with their self-aggrandizing propaganda.
ESPN is just doing what they always do, and what all television networks have always done, it’s just that now it’s getting absurdly obnoxious. Yes, even more obnoxious than usual. Now it’s to a point where ESPN is even cannibalizing itself! They took a brilliant and wonderful idea on paper, the Champions Classic, and bastardized it into an infomercial for the college football playoff rankings show.
It’s no longer a college basketball double header involving Michigan State, Duke, Kentucky and Kansas, it’s a promotional vehicle for the rankings release, and that now takes all priority over the hoops games.
That’s certainly how the event came off to the viewer at home- a product shill. Covering the event as a media member, I can tell you that it was even more about commercialism and less about basketball in person at the actual event itself. While I’m well aware that absolutely no one has sympathy for the media in any capacity these days (it’s actually trendy to bash reporters at will now), there are a few things about this event that are relevant and worth pointing out.
ESPN manages every aspect of the event, including media relations, and they charge the media for both food (with a double header, it’s a nine hour workday so you’re going to have to eat at some point) and parking. They literally put 80-90% of the credentialed media way up in the hockey press box, well above the proverbial “nosebleed seats,” so you really can’t see anything, and you’re better off watching on the television monitors. Since it’s a made for tv event, they make sure to drag it all out as long as possible too, and it ends up being a day in which you probably have TO PAY $20-$50 to DO YOUR JOB!
In other words, covering this event makes one feel that they really don’t want you there, as you’re actually better off watching it on television. So naturally, one feels that they have been conned, and that this was all just a money and publicity making endeavor all along. You might really be better off staying home.
We were the mark to hype up their product, and in this case it was the Champions Classic, which in reality was just sponsored content for the college football playoff rankings. So maybe you should have a some, at least a little bit of sympathy for the media because we are targeted just as much as any consumer or fan.
What’s really sad though is just how much ESPN’s scam to hype up the college football playoff rankings works, and can work. The worst thing about college football is that the entire history of the sport is rooted in rampant controversy deciding the champion.
Today, it’s about “who’s the four in vs. who is the first team left out?” It used to be about the BCS and all the flaws in that system which made it so justly reviled. Before that, the champions were decided by some combination of highly subjective polls (AP, UPI etc.)
Thus, ESPN is just taking this to its next logical step. It’s just really sad that they have to completely ruin their own wonderful creations like the Champions Classic in order to do so.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and the Tribune company’s blogging community Chicago Now.