As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to shatter industries, ESPN EVP Burke Magnus discussed programming goals for the sports broadcasting giant.
Coronavirus is hitting everyone everywhere. From airlines to cruises, to schools, small businesses, supply chains, restaurants and broadcasting, especially sports broadcasting as major leagues like the NBA, the Champions League and future Euro 2020 have been canceled or postponed.
If one searched for a quick fix of ESPN, we would get nothing but bad news like new football players in Italy and Spain had contracted the disease or that new training grounds or leagues had been shut off by team administration. Recently, the Tom Brady breaking which sees him released from the New England Patriots after a 20-year career came to refresh the overwhelming saturation of COVID19 news. Nevertheless, later that day, Brooklyn superstar Kevin Durant told The Athletic he was among the players who tested positive for the virus, which forced the world to bite the dust of reality and uncertainty once again.
As the outbreak continues and the downstream effects unravel the ESPN programming schedule across our networks, ESPN’s programming chief shared his vision for the next few months as the network confronts a gaping hole in its schedule and adjusts for a rebuild.
“We have two simultaneous goals, he writes, one is the immediate future in terms of how we can be as relevant as possible through news and live studio programming in order to frame for sports fans the impact that these unprecedented circumstances are having on the sports world. The second goal is aimed at looking ahead to entertain fans through fun, compelling archival content and/or themed and stunt event programming that will provide a diversion at a time that there are virtually no other live sports to watch.”
“The challenge, he continues, is that now we need to replicate that dynamic 24 hours a day, seven days a week across multiple networks. That’s what is in front of us in terms of long-range planning.”
This epidemic is forcing forced brands, customers and organizations to rethink the strategy of sports in the face of a pandemic, because when seeing what this can cause, the slate could be epic.
- Continue reporting on coronavirus’s impacts on the sports world.
- Dip into the archives to air classic games (but this isn’t as easy as it sounds because of complicated rights agreements).
- Showcase “stunt events” and niche sports like it’s done with its “ESPN8: The Ocho” project.
- Potentially move up the release date of original programming. Unfortunately, the Michael Jordan doc The Last Dance isn’t ready yet.