Thursday, August 29, 2013

Broken News - ESPN and NFL Falling Together?

All good things must come to an end.  We know that, even if we are in denial.  That's why Hannah Montana came to an end and gave us Twerkin' Miley Cyrus.  Or at least that's why I think it happened.

Anyway, the NFL and ESPN are both monsters at the top of their industries.  The NFL tops sports leagues and ESPN tops sports media.  It just so happens that the two are also partnered in the top sports media rights deal on the planet with nearly $2 billion of ESPN's hard-earned cash going straight into Roger Goodell's deep pockets for Monday Night Football rights.  Though the cash is going out, it's also coming back in as MNF is ESPN's highest revenue generating property.

Convenient, eh?  ESPN's parent company, Disney, must be so proud.

Both ESPN and the NFL have risen to their seemingly unreachable heights over the past 40 years or so.  I know, it's hard to remember a time when the NFL wasn't king.  Same with ESPN.

Although ESPN and the NFL may be at the top of their industries, both are deeply flawed properties.  ESPN -- who controversially pulled out of a collaboration with PBS Frontline that tackles the concussion issue in football -- has struggled through a bipolar relationship with entertainment and journalism.  They are only solely one when it's inconvenient to call themselves the other which is the case with their now severed relationship with PBS.  Their journalism has taken a major step back, so they're claiming entertainment.

Aside from that, ESPN is dealing with more pressure from viewers than ever to show more highlights and less useless B.S. (note: not referring to Bill Simmons).  Regardless viewers feel like they're getting more B.S. than ever.  So as they try to keep their journalism from butting heads with the properties they hold rights to, their entertainment may actually be struggling too.  Did Aaron Sorkin write this script?

The NFL has issues of its own.  And we're not talking about potentially having pressured ESPN out of the PBS documentary.  We're talking about concussions.  Head trauma.  A lawsuit with nearly 5,000 former players over issues with concussions.  The more you read the more bleak it looks for the NFL as settlement day will eventually come.

It all makes me wonder, will the inevitable fall of the NFL be tied to the inevitable fall of ESPN, or vice versa?  This may sound crazy, but remember, all good things must come to an end.  Nothing lasts forever.  I'm not saying that the NFL or ESPN will be gone tomorrow.  They will likely last far past the rest of my lifetime.

Think about it, though.  Take a moment to think about where ESPN and the NFL will be in the year, say, 2113?

When there are issues to be investigated, people tell you to follow the money.  In the case of the NFL and ESPN, the money leads directly to one another.  The issues are already present and the dots are already being connected.  Will ESPN and the NFL eventually fall together?  It's an answer that may not be so much good as it is true.

Follow Kevin Rossi on Twitter @kevin_rossi

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