Statistical example of ESPN’s sports coverage

Want some great blend of depth and breadth of credible, legitimate sports news and coverage in your primary sports media source?

I know this isn’t revolutionary insight for you…but, you probably need to look somewhere other than the ‘world wide leader’ – ESPN.

For support of the previous statement, you should follow this great work that DeadSpin is doing by statistically tracking Sportscenter’s coverage. Welcome to HeatCenter!

If you tuned in to SportsCenter at all last week, there was a very good chance you saw Miami Heat highlights, or ESPN personalities talking over Miami Heat highlights, or press conferences involving Miami Heat players. Nearly a fourth of all programming was devoted to the Heat. Let’s put it this way: ESPN spent more time airing Miami Heat press conferences (13 minutes) than it did talking about the NFL. This for a team that’s going to get smoked in the finals by the Spurs (who by the way, got four minutes of coverage this week). Oh, and LeBron got more mentions on SportsCenter than all the members of the Pacers combined.

This topic reminded me of an entry we ran a few years ago that would pair very nicely right here! Please take a moment and click here for a great, related read.

For a lot more current NC State and sports conversations please click here and enjoy!

About StateFans

'StateFansNation' is the shared profile used by any/all of the dozen or so authors that contribute to the blog. You may not always agree with us, but you will have little doubt about where we stand on most issues. Please follow us on Twitter and FaceBook


30 Responses to Statistical example of ESPN’s sports coverage

  1. drspaceman 05/31/2012 at 11:40 AM #

    comparing different sports for less than an entire year isn’t very representative of much of anything. Imagine. The NFL is covered less than the NBA when the range is January – May?! There’s only ONE NFL game in that period and nearly the entire NBA season including playoffs.

    The only fair comparison among sports is to NHL within that time period and it’s no surprise that they cover the NBA much more — it’s a much more popular sport.

    As for coverage of teams — they don’t show numbers for any team other than the Heat outside of the past couple weeks. And surprise surprise, the Heat was in a close series and they were covered more.

    If you look back at previous weeks, that wasn’t really the case. Color me not very impressed.

  2. Wufpacker 05/31/2012 at 12:13 PM #

    ^ Their stats, etc. are ongoing…it just so happens that it began in January. It isn’t intended to be a scientific study and it states no hypothesis, so I’m not sure what unimpresses you so.

    That being said, I do agree that the usefulness of the current numbers is limited by not having a full year to look at. Still, 23% coverage time for any single team in a given week doesn’t exactly speak to broad coverage.

  3. gso packbacker 05/31/2012 at 12:14 PM #

    sure, more data would be great. however, the last bit of the deadspin article highlights the core issue, what espn programming is for various sports. espn is an entertainment organization. looking for crack journalism and balanced coverage? seek elsewhere

  4. drspaceman 05/31/2012 at 12:20 PM #

    ^^if you look at previous weeks, that wasn’t the case. and they don’t mention that a lot of that coverage probably had to do with the hard fouls in Game 5 (i think?) of the Heat/Pacers series.

    And there was a conclusion drawn here: if you want balanced coverage, don’t watch ESPN. I’m refuting that conclusion because the stats cited here are very limited and don’t say much conclusive at all.

  5. lush 05/31/2012 at 12:22 PM #

    shouldn’t the title be “statistical example of Sportscenters sports coverage” instead of ESPN’s sports coverage?

    Sportcenter is aired 10 times a day, but it is only one show. Inside the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, College BBall, College Football, etc all have a much more comprehensive look at their sport other than Tebow, Heat, Yankees, Duke/UNC, etc.

  6. Wufpacker 05/31/2012 at 1:06 PM #

    Even if it was 23% only on the day of the hard fouls, to me that’s pretty suggestive of not being very balanced for a national sports show, supporting the OP’s conclusion (just my opinion, not trying to sound argumentative here).

    Not saying there aren’t reasons for certain imbalances at times, but even if Kevin Durant were to go “Chris Paul” on LeBron James’ groinal area, I wouldn’t need to watch it for more than a quarter of the show (though I would enjoy that 15 minutes immensely). If one follows the top few teams in each sport/league, then ESPN works. It’s basically become the Walmart fan’s home for balanced sports coverage.

    EDIT – I know OKC isn’t playing Miami right now (and won’t). The Durant/James’ example above is merely fantasy.

  7. drspaceman 05/31/2012 at 1:22 PM #

    and looking at it a little more, it’s also notable that the heat had 3 games that week compared to 2 for the other playoff teams. plus, lebron and wade dominated the games they played in that week more so than any other nba player in that period. this was necessary in large part because the team becomes very dependent on them when bosh is out. anyway, i’m not saying that there isn’t any bias of espn towards superstar players. there certainly is.

    the much more glaring example to me is the tiger-centric coverage of all the golf tournaments. they’ll cover tiger’s day regardless of if he’s even in the hunt to win the tournament.

  8. Wulfpack 05/31/2012 at 1:45 PM #

    ^They do the same for Phil as they are golf’s two biggest stars. That’s why many people watch.

  9. gso packbacker 05/31/2012 at 2:00 PM #

    Are we talking about ESPN SportsCenter or the PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer??? I have no problem with them focusing on whatever they want (i.e., not balanced coverage) because I don’t think their mission is to provide balanced coverage. UPDATE: From their website-Their mission is “To serve sports fans wherever sports are watched, listened to, discussed, debated, read about or played”

    I think the long term stats would support the argument set forth in the article, however, if I had a bone to pick with ESPN it would be around having to listen to loud, blathering “personalities” with a microphone. I’d rather have the professionalism and intelligence a Bob Ley brings to the table. Heck, even listening to Tom Mees would be an upgrade at this point.

  10. old13 05/31/2012 at 3:15 PM #

    Exactly why I hardly ever watch any ESPN channel! I have no interest in pro sports any more. The only time I watch is if there is a college game or “special” in which I have interest. I let my Sports Illustrated subscription expire for the same reason – hardly any coverage of college sports.

  11. 61Packer 05/31/2012 at 3:41 PM #

    The ONLY time I’ll ever watch anything remotely related to the NBA is when they televise the draft lottery and the draft itself. Anything else, no way will I watch. It’s not just me, either. Ask any sports fan and most all of them will tell you that they can’t stand the NBA.

    ESPN can continue to televise or expand their NBA coverage. So can TNT. But there is no way in hades that they’re going to make big money on this sport, which has degenerated from wildly popular 1960s Sunday afternoon games on ABC and CBS to nightly muggings and profanity outbursts between baskets. I can get this on Spike’s wrestling shows without having to listen to folks like Charles Barkley explain it.

    Ron Artest’s scene from Malice In The Palace closed the book on my ever again watching NBA sports in any shape, form or fashion. NBA is an acronym for Nothing But Anger.

  12. BJD95 05/31/2012 at 4:15 PM #

    I haven’t watched one minute of NBA games or coverage. Happier man for it. Catching up on my reading until legitimate sports pick back up.

    Hell, I would kill just to se an NFL preseason game at this point.

  13. coach13 05/31/2012 at 4:26 PM #

    Hey BJ, you gonna start watching USFL when it returns?

  14. BJD95 05/31/2012 at 4:44 PM #

    I would like to say no…but probably a little.

  15. lush 05/31/2012 at 7:21 PM #

    “Ask any sports fan and most all of them will tell you that they can’t stand the NBA.”

    TV ratings alone disprove that absurd statement. Maybe you should rephrase. “ask any of the 50 and older sports fans that I know and they will tell you they don’t like thugs who don’t play team ball”. That would make more sense

  16. LRM 05/31/2012 at 8:42 PM #

    I don’t watch the NBA, but I appreciate that ESPN has a vested interest in promoting it — same as it does with NASCAR, international soccer, and college football.

    The problem is SportsCenter is no longer a highlights show, but a platform to promote its many vested interests, and the highlights and news get watered down so they can do Coors Cold Hard Facts about the NFL in May.

    For baseball highlights, I much prefer Baseball Tonight for MLB highlights — or even better, MLB Tonight or Quick Pitch on MLBN.

  17. 61Packer 05/31/2012 at 10:31 PM #

    @ lush:

    It is not an absurd statement to say that most sports fans can’t stand the NBA. I see people stating that very thing on this website all the time when the NBA is discussed. Almost everybody I know who’s a sports fan can’t stand either the game or the players. And these are people who love college basketball, many who are well east of 50.

    I haven’t seen any tv ratings that support any significant degree of popularity with the NBA, at least not since Michael Jordan finally retired. The NBA finals might make the top 20 weekly list, but I wouldn’t watch it if they gave me a front row seat and flew me there.

    I used to love watching the NBA in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Back then, it was a team game. Now, it’s all about the individual and one-up showmanship. The attitude of this game has trickled down into the college game and it’s ruining it. The NBA has raided the college game, and the decline in college basketball talent has turned many fans more toward football, where most of the college players stay at least 3 if not the full 4 years. The recent huge rise in college football popularity has hurt both the ACC and especially the Big East Conference, whose traditions were built on basketball rather than on football.

    The NFL has helped make college football THE sport in college, while the NBA has done anything but that for college basketball. All the proof of this you need is the impending doom for the Big East, and the serious problems that are facing the ACC.

  18. Wulfpack 06/01/2012 at 7:04 AM #

    “I see people stating that very thing on this website”

    Well then, that must mean the NBA is unpopular. The ratings indicate that the NBA is still very popular.

  19. SaccoV 06/01/2012 at 10:24 AM #

    The thing that has bothered me the most about ESPN is the ‘N’ which was supposed to stand for ‘News’ but like so many other 24-hour outlets for information (not necessarily ‘news’) ESPN has gone from the ‘reporting’ to the ‘promoting.’ ESPN is the definition of a conflict of interest; you cannot ‘cover’ (with any semblance of journalistic objectivity) the same sporting event that you ‘promote.’ NBA fans want to watch, discuss and debate Lebron, regardless of whether or not he will win a championship with his teammates who go consistently unmentioned. ESPN goes so far in this endeavor to have sports writers on TV and radio comment on how ‘unbelievable’ the pressure is on Lebron and how his teammates are couldn’t cut mustard as JV players in Europe (Bob Ryan + Ric Buecher (sp?)). Lebron James has gone from deserving leper to poor victim, while making more money than J. Paul Getty and finishing 2nd place.

  20. SaccoV 06/01/2012 at 10:50 AM #

    Here’s another ESPN-driven ‘counter-claim’ to regional bias in baseball coverage.

  21. Mike 06/01/2012 at 10:57 AM #

    Sacco, ESPN originally stood for Entertainment and Sports Programming Network. Network indictaes they can do whatever they want to promote their entertainment and sports.

    This just proves what I was taught at my great alma mater – the news shows do not report the news, they make the news.

  22. lush 06/01/2012 at 7:01 PM #


    You just spent 4 paragraphs proving my point

  23. ancsu87 06/01/2012 at 9:34 PM #

    @lush – I am under 50 and cant stand NBA BB anymore. There are a lot of people and the while the sport is still popular you need to look at relative popularity. The fan base is not the same as it was in the 80’s/90’s and the sport is no where near as close as the NFL.

    But it your happy watching LeBron James display nothing but the ability to walk, palm, and be an asshole then be my guest.

  24. lush 06/01/2012 at 10:56 PM #

    ^ one example of Lebron being an asshole. Just one. Let’s hear it / see it.

    Good luck.

    It doesn’t matter how old you are if you are ignorant.

    I wonder why college coaches and players spend so much time watching, discussing, analyzing, and emulating the best players in the world. Very strange to spend their time learning to walk, palm, and be assholes. Weird.

  25. Wulfpack 06/02/2012 at 9:22 PM #

    I am not sure what “relative popularity” means. This isn’t the 80s or 90s. There is so many more avenues for entertainment. If you like golf, you can now watch golf 24-7. Tennis, same thing. Baseball? Check. Football? Check. Reality tv…

    People still watch the NBA, especially the playoffs. The NFL has always been king. That was true 30 years ago.

    And LBJ goes OUT of his way not to be an arse.

Leave a Reply