December 11, 2002

Question: Is ESPN the Microsoft of sports (figuratively and literally)? And if so, is Sports Illustrated IBM? Many have complained that Microsoft gobbles up the competition and eliminates choices for the consumer. I find it increasingly difficult to find quality sports information/content from other sources outside of ESPN (aka, the SportsFilter dilemma). I am wondering if you can help me identify the competition that ESPN has overtaken or co-opted. Example: SportsJones. As a Chicagoan, I know that local Chicago Sports radio has been greatly challenged by ESPN Radio (I have to admit that I "switched" to ESPN Radio). Is it okay for the ESPN to take over the sporting world (a la WalMart)? If ESPN is Microsoft and Sports Illustrated is IBM (a fading giant), what is SportsFilter? Linux?

posted by jacknose to culture at 11:43 AM - 19 comments

All your links are broken :/

posted by tieguy at 12:51 PM on December 11, 2002

To make your OS-specific analogy tighter, maybe SI should be Apple. But with swimsuit models. Yeah.

posted by worldcup2002 at 12:58 PM on December 11, 2002

I don't see SI as the alternative. I see SI as a longstanding giant that could have been THE dominant sports media, if it would have seized the opportunity. The question is, who is Apple? It may turn out to be Fox Sports.

posted by jacknose at 01:26 PM on December 11, 2002

Well, sports blogs in general would be linux, accessible to everybody and such. ESPN is Microsoft but non-evil, it's not like they're taking over anybody's local sports pages.

posted by Justin Slotman at 01:30 PM on December 11, 2002

Don't overlook NBC (with the olympics, still a force) and CBS (who have repeatedly been able to keep the NCAA tournament away from ESPN, despite the very poor quality of their coverage.) ESPN still has a long way to go to become Microsoft-ian.

posted by tieguy at 02:07 PM on December 11, 2002

No way dude, FoxSportsWorld is the place to be!

posted by StarFucker at 02:57 PM on December 11, 2002

"ESPN is Microsoft but non-evil, it's not like they're taking over anybody's local sports pages." ESPN, like WalMart, may not take over local sports pages, but they are making it increasingly difficult for other sports news programs to compete. How many of us consistently choose ESPN over other news programs? Why? (I like ESPN, and, honestly, the comparison to Microsoft falters, but it is interesting note that ESPN continues to grow--NHL, NFL, NBA, etc--in Microsoft fashion). I think the biggest evidence for the dominance of ESPN is SportsFilter's consistent return to for links, news, articles, etc. The fact is, it is difficult to find other sources that can compete with the coverage and quality of That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it would be easy for SportsFilter to function as "ESPN presents SportsFilter: a webspace to discuss ESPN content." It is simply a fact that ESPN dominates sports coverage in America (at least on the web).

posted by jacknose at 03:10 PM on December 11, 2002

ESPN is really good at what it does, and they didn't cut anyones throat to get big, so I don't see a problem. Now I'm going to finish watching Sportscenter.

posted by jbou at 05:43 PM on December 11, 2002

yeah, the only thing ESPN does that is evil is the damn popunder AND popup that load on their front page. For a while the top one would re-focus itself when it finished loading (if I killed or hid it while it was not loaded). THAT was annoying. At work on the PC I have my wonderful popup stopper, but no such luck at home on the Mac (unless anyone has a mac IE popup stopper?). But aside from that, ESPN has superior content, and I agree, they didn't cut anyone's throat to get big, and for the most part they're always the best, fastest, and most entertaining (although I personally can't stand Stu Scott, most of America loves him)...

posted by Bernreuther at 10:34 PM on December 11, 2002

no such luck at home on the Mac Mozilla and Opera have it built in. Hey, if we're bashing Microsoft, I might as well suggest you give Moz a spin.

posted by yerfatma at 06:53 AM on December 12, 2002

I have a hard time hating ESPN, I really love the product they put out. I'll watch the same sportscenter over and over. I'll even watching competitive jump roping on espn2 everytime it's on. has been my start page for 5 or so years now.

posted by corpse at 08:13 AM on December 12, 2002

I prefer the NY1 Sports coverage to ESPN's, greatly.

posted by djacobs at 09:00 AM on December 12, 2002

Bernreuther: Pop-Up Zapper works o.k. and you can try it out for a few days before you have to register. I agree with yerfatma though, I started using Mozilla a few months ago and now live pop-up free. (sorry off-topic)

posted by pfuller at 12:38 PM on December 12, 2002

While we're off topic, will someone honestly give me some of the disadvantages of Mozilla? I've considered switching (using IE 5.2 on Jaguar/PowerBook G4). What is gained, and, more importantly, what is lost by going with Mozilla? Now, regarding ESPN, I will not deny that ESPN puts out a superior product, but at what point will their domination become problematic? Let's say they pay to have exclusive rights of all the major sports. Or that they buy out 90% of every major sports magazine.

posted by jacknose at 01:52 PM on December 12, 2002

My complaint with Mozilla is that it's a memory hog and runs slower than IE, but that's on a PC. The only platform-independent thing I can come up with is that a lot of sites don't look right in Mozilla (which is the site's fault for not being compliant, not Moz's*). In fact, to get this all back on topic, plenty of pages look like hell in Mozilla (two paragraphs of slightly oversized text in one font followed by small Times New Roman). * Mozilla, not Morrissey

posted by yerfatma at 08:28 AM on December 13, 2002


posted by jacknose at 12:34 PM on December 13, 2002

jacknose - I tried to email you, but it was returned undeliverable, so here it is: In an effort to keep the thread more on-topic, I figured I'd email you with my mozilla (or general mac browser) thoughts. I am also using a powerbook G4, just so you know. Yerfatma is right about mozilla being a memory hog, it loads at about the same speed as netscape, or slightly (YMMV) slower than IE. The ability to block pop-ups is probably my favorite benefit, although the option to block images from individual servers is also cool. (I don't really know much about using host files to keep the adservers at bay.) I haven't had yerfatma's experience with pages not looking good, but I have noticed this in other websites (especially microsoft sites, go figure). Chimera is a really fast browser, but I rarely use it because it lacks the extended features of mozilla. Although I'm sure you've probably seen it, there is some discussion of mozilla and others in this metatalk thread.

posted by pfuller at 01:06 PM on December 13, 2002

To get back on-topic...I actually don't think that we can equate ESPN with being "the M$ of sports broadcasting." Especially on cable! I mean, OLN has had full coverage of Tour de France and the America's Cup races; Speed Channel has Formula One and WRC. Throw in Fox Sports Channel, par-per-view of English Premier League, and the local international-oriented public TV station that regularly puts up Aussie football and Irish hurling (!!)....there's lots of choices in my neck of the woods. ESPN would only be the M$ of sports broadcasting if they tied up all these contracts in the US AND overseas. I don't see that happening.

posted by PeteyStock at 05:31 PM on December 13, 2002

ESPN isn't the problem; the real menace is The Associated Press. Most ESPN recaps are AP stories in an ESPN wrapper, with maybe an ESPN sidebar to spice things up.

posted by kirkaracha at 10:53 PM on December 13, 2002

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