Friday, June 26, 2009

The Decline Of Western Civilization, Part X

According to an article in MediaWeek by John Consoli, Fox Sports Chairman David Hill wants to expand the website.

Fox Sports chairman David Hill believes the Internet is following the same evolutionary pattern as television. “When TV was in its infancy, it was basically run by the engineers,” says Hill. “Technology innovations were driving it, until finally the programmers began to take over. And that’s when television took off.”
Hill believes that for the past 10 years or so online media—particularly sports sites—have been overly controlled by techies, or engineers, as he calls them. And because the programming executives have for the most part gone along with this, just about every sports Web site looks the same or offers the same basic content and design.

Yeah, look at our site--definitely technology-driven!

“All of these sites, including our own, are dominated by highlights of games from the night before and interviews of players talking about games that already happened,” Hill says. “Everything is past tense.” And most of the sports sites feature a preponderance of sportswriters, rather than television sports commentators, he adds. While these sites do have some prognosticators who, via video, are discussing future games or longer-term trends, Hill believes there should be more cross-pollination of TV sports commentators on He also wants to inject a little more irreverence into the commentary to offer viewers a distinct destination.

Irreverence?? That would NEVER work on a website!

Hill is now putting together a plan to evolve it to reach more users and offer greatly expanded original programming. And he plans to immediately target men at work, who, research indicates, are viewing sports sites heavily during the workday. According to Media Metrix, 76 percent of users visiting sports sites do so during work hours. Fox’s own internal audience measurement data appears to confirm that 50 percent of’s audience visits during lunch breaks.

"76% of users visiting sports sites do so doing work hours." What an amazing statistic. And we're surprised the economy is in the tank? No one is doing anything at work!

By the way, if you're reading this while you're at work, then good for you. Keep up the, work.

Hill may not be a tech guru, but since taking charge of Fox Sports 15 years ago, he has made numerous changes to the network’s on-air sports telecasts. He introduced the Fox Box on NFL telecasts, the onscreen constant score and clock graphic with real-time stats fed into it directly from the stadium scoreboards. He instituted surround sound audio and an audio mixer that can open and close field mikes wherever the play is. And for baseball telecasts, he introduced the diamond and catcher cams.

Truly some good innovations. But can Hill really take credit for the idea of having the score and clock onscreen constantly during NFL games? I always thought that idea came from video games--specifically, the Madden football video games:

This is from Madden NFL '94, released during the 1993 season. Not exactly the same, but the idea is clearly similar to the initial FoxBox. And it's interesting to think about how much TV sports broadcasts look very much like video games now.

Back to the Media Week article. It goes on to talk about how much money Fox will spend in the changes to the site, and how Hill would like to "bring more innovation to the site. Right now, most content on sports sites is past tense. We want to make it more forward thinking.”

We're okay so far. And then it gets weird:

While most of Hill’s ideas are currently in the development stage, he is already touting one show he wants to produce for, involving former NFL star Tony Siragusa, who is a sideline reporter on Fox’s Sunday NFL telecasts. A 12-year NFL veteran, Siragusa, nicknamed “The Goose,” has the type of boisterous personality that Hill thinks will stir up football fans. “Tony Siragusa will become an Internet star,” predicts Hill.

"Tony Siragusa will become an Internet star."

Just let that sink in for a second.

Okay, that was a bad idea. But was it any worse than Hill's?

He could also team up on-air commentator Daryl Johnson, a former Dallas Cowboys running back, nicknamed Moose, with Siragusa the Goose. And Hill says former Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick, currently a commentator on Fox Sports game telecasts, is also in his sights to do some type of show online (even though Billick does not have a nickname ending in “oose”).

I've got it! "Goose, Moose, and Caboose." No? "Goose, Moose, Bill-oose." Hmmm. "Bri, Goose, and Moose." Er, "Letting Loose with the Billickooses."

I'll keep working on it, but if you ask me, the name is the least of their problems. I mean, the only thing that allows me to sleep at night during the NFL season is the fact that I know that I'll only see Tony Siragusa 4-5 times a season at most. Now he might be loose on the Inter-Webs with a creative show of some sort?

Start stocking up on canned goods and bottled water, for surely the end is near.

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Blogger Zinglebert Bembledack said...

OK, I get how a media person can enjoy creating a sports show when the names rhyme or are the same (i.e. Mike and Mike), but just because Tony "Goose" Siragusa and Daryl "Moose" Johnson have rhyming nicknames does not mean you should put them on TV together. I really do not want to see Goose on the TV every week...unless he is getting cooked. Now THAT is riveting TV folks!

But seriously...who am I kidding, the "techies" may have input on the layout or mapping of a site, but do you really think they are controlling the site to the degree Hill is quoting? The techies may put the info out on the sites, but there is a director/editor/butt-munch who determines what goes where and when, not the techie. It is debatable as to whether all sports sites are the same, but in the end, all of them are providing the same content just in different presentations and some like ones more than others.

June 29, 2009 at 1:13 PM  
Blogger Slut Bunwalla said...

I somewhat agree with Hill's point from the standpoint that for the first 10 years of media websites having relevance, techie "code monkeys" are the ones designing and working on the sites day-to-day. Now the trend is that the web person for a media entity doesn't have to be technically-minded: the multimedia "editor" comes up with content and either uploads it to a template, or sends it to a technical staff who posts it.

Which is pretty much what you're saying--that the tech people have never really driven or decided the content of the websites.

Hill's right, but he's wrong, too. What change is happening is because media companies and programmers are finally starting to see the web as a separate medium from their other properties, instead as of a dumping ground to replay the stuff that ran already in the newspaper or on the air.

June 30, 2009 at 12:42 AM  

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