Are Local Stations Dropping the Ball on Sports Coverage?
by Laura Nachman
November 10, 2005
Notice how most sportscasts are given around two minutes at the end of a your
local broadcast to cram in their coverage? So have some Philadelphia sports
directors. It's a fact--sports coverage on local TV is diminishing faster
than the chances of Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens getting together
for Thanksgiving dinner.
Many high profile sports directors have gone on record to contest the scant sports
coverage. CBS3 sports director Beasley Reeece wrote, "I started broadcasting
local sports in 1985. Back then it wasn't unusual for me to have over four
minutes for my sportscasts.
But a history lesson is in order here. ESPN was barely out of the
experimental stage and Al Gore had yet to invent the internet (Oh, Beasley,
everybody's a comedian). ESPN and the internet have changed the way we get sports
news. Newscasts today are competing against five-hundred cable stations,
many devoted to just one topic."
In fact, ESPN is being blamed by many sports directors in the area. NBC10 sports
director Vai Sikahema said, "News directors love to say that people
don't turn to local news for sports because of ESPN. If that argument
was true, then people would only get their weather from the Weather
Channel or Fox or CNN for news."
But ESPN can't take all the heat. Many are just blaming it on the
Comcast SportsNet's Phil Andrews, who worked for 6ABC for 15-years until
June, noted the increase in coverage on the weather. "Look at the
numbers," he says. "Most television stations have up
to six weather people and only two to three sports people. When a big
weather story broke, we always knew that sports would be the first
thing to get cut."
Fox29 sports director Don Tollefson, a fixture in Philadelphia since 1975 said,
"There's been a dramatic change in the increase of weather, however I
believe an awful lot of people want to see four to five minutes of
So for the future, will sports be able to compete with weather,
consumer reports, traffic, and other features? It probably won't ever
get it's extra time back, but if it holds its ground, it will be considered