A look at the future of the most important job in sports: Recode is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the internet’s birth.
Today, ESPN has nearly 2.4 billion monthly viewers, a record that only the NFL, MLB, and NBA have managed to surpass.
But there’s one problem: There are still some people who want to watch sports without actually watching it.
“There’s this constant narrative about ESPN being a bad thing,” says Scott Healy, a sports-focused technology analyst and author of “The Business of Sports: A Strategy for the Next 25 Years.”
“But that’s not the case.”
ESPN, of course, isn’t the only sports network that’s struggled.
And while those struggles aren’t entirely the fault of ESPN, they’re a part of the larger problem of a “culture of self-indulgence” in sports.
“A lot of sports organizations are looking to reinvent themselves from a business perspective,” Healy says.
That self-defeating mindset, Healy explains, is what ultimately doomed ESPN. “
But I think it’s an incredibly self-absorbed, very business-focused thing.”
That self-defeating mindset, Healy explains, is what ultimately doomed ESPN.
The network’s self-image began when it began to broadcast live sports broadcasts back in the late ’90s.
By that point, sports-related content had been the dominant way people engaged with the internet.
Sports fans were tuning in and watching on television, with the added benefit of live video.
By 2003, ESPN was the number-one cable sports network in the U.S. with a subscriber base of roughly 20 million.
ESPN’s dominance helped fuel the internet bubble.
Sports, like so many other media, were a niche in which fans could be “taken for a ride,” says Healy.
“It became a way of life.
When Healy left ESPN in 2007 to join the tech firm Palantir, the company that made the infamous Datalog tool used to track human behavior, he felt the network had turned into a platform for “the most extreme people in the world.” “
The problem is that it’s a lot easier to take for a drive than to take a walk.”
When Healy left ESPN in 2007 to join the tech firm Palantir, the company that made the infamous Datalog tool used to track human behavior, he felt the network had turned into a platform for “the most extreme people in the world.”
He left Palanti because he wanted to “put a human face” on the sportscasters he was watching.
That human face was the internet, and the platform it enabled.
“Sports has become a very narrow, focused place,” Hey says.
ESPN became “a very narrow and focused place.”
He believes that “people like Bill Simmons and Dan Patrick and Matt Millen and Bill Walton and others who were very smart people in sports are just not really there.”
Healy has a different theory on why this has happened.
“ESPN’s very, very good at telling you what’s happening,” he says.
But what about what’s really happening in the real world?
Healy thinks the internet is the “most powerful force in the sports world,” a powerful force that he sees is not only “very much like a television network” but also an “extremely powerful force.”
He says that it was the combination of this powerful force and the lack of an overarching business model that caused the internet to dominate the sports industry.
“When I started at ESPN, I was very much an entrepreneur,” Hely says.
It was a startup.
ESPN is still a startup, but it’s starting to take steps to build its brand.
“As soon as we started to invest, the sports business became very much like an entertainment business,” He says.
This is a company that’s willing to spend money to build a brand, He says, “because the reality is that sports is very profitable.
It’s very profitable in the United States.”
ESPN is a sports network, Hey explains, but he also believes it’s been too focused on sports for too long.
The internet has created a very different kind of audience, one that can “sneak into the seats and make decisions about what they want to do and watch.”
That’s why he’s convinced that “sports is going to be a very important part of our lives in the coming years.”
But ESPN’s future, as Healy sees it, isn.
The company’s current chief executive, John Skipper, has called ESPN’s business model a “shame” that has “gone wrong.”
He’s said that the company’s goal “is to stay relevant for a very long time.”
He said he believes that ESPN “can be a catalyst for the next 25 years” and has promised to invest in technology to bring more people to its shows.
That’s not a strategy that would be successful, Healey argues.
“I don’t think anyone is going into this with the expectation of success,” he explains.
“This is going from a small, unproven company into a big, well-established business.”
He wants to see ESPN