What should ESPN do with 6PM? Maybe nothing. (Updated)



I give what Jim Miller says a lot of weight and that’s a good strategy.

I also have this tea leaf reading thing where if Jim Miller says something and I’m surprised that he said it I immediately jump to the conclusion that whatever he just said is going to happen.

Very small sample size but so far the approach does have excellent predictive value.

Last Friday when Jim Miller said re: the 6PM SportsCenter that ESPN should just bring back Dan Patrick & Keith Olbermann my first thought was that I loved the idea of them coming back. But I was surprised to hear Jim say it only because I got the sense from Jim’s wonderful Origins podcast episode on SportsCenter that DP might not be all that enthused about doing SportsCenter again.

Just because Jim Miller said it and I was surprised he said it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen but it put it in play enough for me to think about.

I do love the idea of DP & KO coming back to ESPN. And I wouldn’t hate them hosting the 11PM SportsCenter a dozen times a year, but to host the 6PM SportsCenter ~200 nights a year? Sure, it’s probably the last best hope of slowing the decline for the 6PM SportsCenter. But why be so caught up in salvaging SportsCenter?

Many people are convinced that the 6P time slot is what it is and can’t be salvaged. Deitsch isn’t the only one. As a thing that’s attached to the idea of salvaging the SportsCenter brand, I’m mostly there with RD and the others.

But I haven’t fully sworn off the idea that ESPN could do something at 6PM that held on to more of PTI’s viewers. I’ve just sworn off the idea of trying to do it with a gasping and wheezing SportsCenter brand.

If the “Jim Miller surprise” routine is of any predictive value and Keith & Dan are on course to return as a duo why not just call it “The Big Show with DP & KO” or whatever Dan & Keith want to call it and let them distance themselves from the gasping & wheezing SportsCenter brand? 

Instead of merely saying “make it about the personalities” maybe this one time actually make it about the personalities! Instead of, you know, saying you’re making it about the personalities when really it’s all about saving the gasping & wheezing SportsCenter brand. 

If the “Jim Miller Surprise” routine is wrong and Dan & Keith aren’t coming coming back, ESPN keeping their heads down and plowing forward quietly with what they’re doing at 6PM makes a lot of sense.

But I never explained the “Jim Miller surprise” thing to Jim so I’m not surprised I put a lot more faith in that filter than Jim does. Besides, I wasn’t thinking they were going to come back next Tuesday. But just like guessing the Patriots will be in the Super Bowl again until life proves me wrong, I’m rolling with the “Jim Miller surprise” routine. Welcome back Keith & Dan?

Update: the most interesting result of writing this so far is this from Sports Business Journal’s Austin Karp:


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