"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Letter to ESPN's Ombudsman

UPDATE: Got a response from ESPN (scroll to the bottom)

We've not discussed the distracting and useless ESPN Interactive Tuesday feature from the Villanova game, but I can't stop thinking about what a disgrace it was and how much it detracted from what should have been an enjoyable game to watch.

Finally, I had enough. Below is a letter I sent to ESPN's Ombudsman, Le Anne Schreiber addressing the Worldwide Leader's vacuous and unseemly attempt to engage fans. I'm not naive enough to believe my single voice can get through to ESPN, but I do realize that my opinion is not a solitary one.

If you are not aware of the absurdity, I invite you to check out Yet Another Basketball Blog for his commentary on ESPN Interactive Tuesday as well. Bratwurst, hands down. And notice what deadspin managed to pick up. There's also more Internet hate for the idea here at Awful Announcing. Not surprisingly, the MU community thinks it's crap too. Now, even Villanova bloggers such as Villanova by the Numbers are saying Interactive Tuesday? No Thanks.

If you were also annoyed by this gimmick, you can provide your own feedback to the Ombudsman by following this link.

Ms. Schreiber,

“Look, mister, there's... two kinds of dumb, uh... guy that gets naked and runs out in the snow and barks at the moon, and, uh, guy who does the same thing in my living room. First one don't matter, the second one you're kinda forced to deal with.”

I think that your columns are honest and insightful, and I make a point of reading your opinions.

Two nights ago I had the misfortune of watching Marquette lose 102-84 at Villanova. This game was broadcast on 2/1 at 7:30 ET on ESPN2.

Compounding this loss was that the game was “ESPN Interactive Tuesday”. This version of the broadcast treated viewers to a scrolling text bar across the top with viewer submissions, interactive polls, and even video commentary.

There was one legitimate poll “which player should be BE POY”. There was poll that demonstrated a complete lack of understanding for the history of both programs, “Was Villanova ’85 or Marquette ’77 the better Cinderella story?” which ignores that Marquette was arguably the second most successful program of the 70’s. There were even inane polls, such as “which coach is the best dressed?” or “bratwurst or cheese steak?”

However, during the entire broadcast of the game, viewers were forced to see what different text submissions thought of the game. As put elsewhere, these submissions added neither insight nor humor to the game. It was a constant stream of sophomoric and irrelevant commentary from people I don’t care about. At best, they provided absurdity to the broadcast. At worst, the scrolling text was insulting to the viewing audience. My only recourse was to actively ignore the comments floating across the screen.

In summary, “ESPN Interactive Tuesday” significantly detracted from the game. I hope to never watch another “ESPN Interactive game” in my life.

I respect and appreciate the desire of a company to experiment with different approaches to broadcasts. However, any company that experiments must recognize feedback. When your best outcome is absurdity, this is a failure.


Rob Lowe

I got a response from the assistant to the ESPN Ombudsman. While it may be a form letter, I think the good news story is that multiple emails sent to the Ombudsman receive special attention (see below in bold). If you also had an issue with "ESPN Tuesday Interactive", take a few minutes to let Le Anne Schreiber know. The original post is below the email.
I cannot respond personally to all the mail I receive, but I do read and take note of all complaints. When the complaints are specific to a show or to an article on espn.com, I forward them to the producer or editor in charge of that content. When there are several complaints on the same topic, I do a weekly tabulation that becomes part of a report sent to all of ESPN's top management. (I do the same for positive comments.) I cannot assure you that your complaints or mine will result in action, but I can assure you they are not lost in some cyberspace void. They are read, thought about, disseminated.

Thank you,

Le Anne Schreiber


TomW1365 said...

This text scrolling gimmick is like the old picket fence play... it's distracting and it doesn't work.

Skip Dizzle said...

I am a contributor to another Milwaukee sports blog which covers each MU basketball game. While watching the game on Tuesday, I posted the short but sweet comment "What's with the propaganda scrolling at the top of the screen?" I'm glad you guys really stood up to this drivel and made ESPN aware that the only thing it added to the broadcast was incredibly annoying dialogue from uninformed "fans" of both programs.

wisblue said...

It bugged me too. I'll send my comments to ESPN too.