Another View, Mine: April 2019

John Nieman

Our publisher, in the column that shares this page, does an excellent job of reporting on and commenting on all of the changes and additions in sports media in our area. And no way do I want to infringe upon his turf, but I’d like to give an opinion on the state of sport media.

I have recently “cut the cord” and it is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Internet TV offers so many options and such a wide variety of choices. Personally, I chose FuboTv as my main streaming service and added on BR Report, ESPN Plus, NBC Sports Gold, Netflix, Horse & Country TV, and a couple entertainment and movie channels.

All of these channels ended up being less expensive per month than my DirecTV subscription. They are designed to reflect my choices in sports viewing. As I’ve mentioned in this space many times, my current favorite sports are soccer and NASCAR and Martha is an equestrian.

One would think that the wide variety of choices offered now in television content would result in viewers watching a wide variety of sports.

But is that what is happening? There is certainly an upsurge in the interest here in the United States for international soccer, but is it a reflection of interest that was already there and is now being served? NBC is clearly trying to get the same kind of viewership for rugby, but is that happening?

Is the abundance of channels moving viewers toward variety in their sports viewing or is it moving them towards more niche viewing?

An NFL fan can now watch football exclusively year round. The NFL Network provides news, stories, and commentary virtually 24/7. To narrow it even further, with the proliferation of specialized channels a UNC fan, for example, can watch nothing but Carolina sports.

Are we broadening are sports choices or narrowing them even further?

There was a time when ESPN provided the narrative for the state of sport in the United States. But now, with Fox Sports Channels 1 and 2 and all of the other generalized sports channels, ESPN just reports on the sports broadcast by their various networks. Once ESPN stopped event telecasts of NASCAR and much of soccer, I certainly noticed their coverage of those sports decreased to just a mention.

I have to confess that my sport viewing is often confined to events and commentary of international soccer and NAS­CAR. With the channels I have now, my television viewing time can be completely filled with just that. And if I want to find out what happened in other sports I’ll go to the internet to find the results. ESPN Sports Center just seems to me to be the same broadcast over and over about the same basic stories.

And so what does that say about the future of sport in Amer­ica? Rather than being a nation consumed with the big three sports of football, baseball, and basketball, will we be­come a nation of different groups each following one or two sports?

And please God deliver us from E-Sports.

One sport that clearly needs its own channel is NASCAR. The attendance at the last Bristol race was well-documented and pitiful. It was only a few years ago when there was an eight-year waiting list to be able to purchase tickets to the Bristol races. Over the past couple years one could get tickets on race day by walking up to the ticket office. And this last race looked to be less than half full.

The plan is for son Jeff and I to take grandson Burke to the All-Star Race in Charlotte next month. I’m doing everything I can for the future, it’s up to you, France family.

In the spirit of broadening sports participation, Martha and I will be heading to the Kentucky Horse Park next week for the 3-day 4-star event. It’s the week before the Derby and where the real horsemanship is showcased.

Bethany is trying and I am trying but I appear to be poised on the plateau of infinity. FatBoy Index: 289.