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Sports Media Musings: 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Big Spring, Grantland Backlash

Bill Simmons

Missed Part 1? Click Here! Without Further Adieu, Part Two of the Mega Media Musings Column..

Breaking News

Here are your spring radio ratings…Via Boston Sports Media Watch (based off radio-info.com). The Sports Hub’s dominance is profound, but WEEI can take solace in the Bruins playoff run exponentially increasing The Sports Hub’s numbers – which in turn - is no longer in play. More analysis on this to come next week.

MEN 25-54
In almost every daypart, The Sports Hub has double the listeners of WEEI.

TOUCHER & RICH – 11.6 (1st)
DENNIS & CALLAHAN – 6.0 (3rd)

GRESH & ZO – 9.4 (2nd)
MUTT & MERLONI – 4.1 (10th)

FELGER & MAZZ – 9.5 (1st)
THE BIG SHOW – 5.4 (6th)

MEN 18-49
T&R has nearly 3 times as many listeners as D&C, G&Z almost 5 times WEEI, F&M 2 times WEEI.

TOUCHER & RICH – 14.8 (1st)
DENNIS & CALLAHAN – 5.1 (4th)

GRESH & ZO – 11.9 (1st)
MUTT & MERLONI – 2.8 (11th)

FELGER & MAZZ – 10.5 (1st)
THE BIG SHOW – 4.4 (7th)

MEN 18-34
T&R pull a TWENTY TWO share, and have almost 10 times the listeners of D&C.

TOUCHER & RICH – 22.3 (1st)
DENNIS & CALLAHAN – 2.8 (11th)

GRESH & ZO – 14.1 (1st)
MUTT & MERLONI – 1.2 (17th)

FELGER & MAZZ – 12.1 (1st)
THE BIG SHOW – 1.7 (16th)

Making the Grade

Before you read any further, read these pieces from Grantland and figure out your take..

Mike Barnicle’s take on the relationship between Theo Epstein and Tito Francona

Chuck Klosterman ponders the impact of spoilers in new cinema

Molly Lambert is confused on where Blake Lively stands in the eyes of woman in America.

Chris Ryan’s dissertation on relegation

—-

Grantland is now over a month old. The degree to which the maligned Bill Simmons vehicle has been ridiculed on the internet is only comparable to Tiger Woods, Brett Farve, and LeBron James. The Big Lead has posed the question, “Why does Grantland exist?” Deadspin has taken the opportunity annotate every error the site makes (both grammatical; and factual). And to top it all off, ESPN’s ombudsman took shots at the site’s structure and content - only two weeks after its inception.

Unreal.

Initially, I think Grantland has some issues. As The Big Lead’s Ty Duffy says, “Long form writing, isn’t necessarily good writing.” And that’s true, an accomplished scribe like Chuck Klosterman spending 4,000 words describing a Led Zep concert is one thing; a virtual unknown like Chris Ryan spending the same amount of time on a MLS game is another. It’s asking a lot of the consumer to dedicate that much time to an internet column.

Another prevalent issue is the site is deciding what it wants to be. Simmons saying, “A site with 70% sports writing, and 30% pop-culture writing…A place for young-and-up-and-coming writers to strut their stuff” isn’t exactly specific. Additionally, the content aligned together causes more confusion. For instance, one day there’s an awesome piece on relegation in the English Premier League juxtaposed with a column on Jennifer Anniston’s career and marital issues. US Weekly mixed with Soccer By Ives?

It’s confusing, scattered, and eclectic.

BUT

It’s also freakin’ good. I have a feeling Simmons’ envision is something more than what critics currently perceive as the site’s ‘purpose’. He wants to create an entity that delivers ideas not headlines; theories not news. Lastly, he wants it to provoke entertainment above page views (Though, he probably knows entertainment will incite and coincide treasured page views).

The issue is that the immediacy of internet reaction has thwarted those goals. I’ve read more about why I shouldn’t like Grantland, than Grantland itself.

Bill Simmons doesn’t want to evoke a pretentious aura, though. That’s not his deal. He’s always written columns from the fan’s perspective mainly because – and I agree with this – he’s not an expert, he’s just passionate. The dude wants to relate to Joe SixPack, not Tom Jackson.

Simmons is cerebral as Peyton Manning on the football field. He was ahead of the curve on how to best utilize the internet for sports writing. When the blogosphere caught up to him, he initiated his award-winning podcast. Now, he’s trying to take back what was his.

And the critics?

The Big Lead wondering “Why the site needs to exist” is just as confusing as the Anniston/MLS alignment. Why does their site exist? Why does any site exist? Candidly speaking, to generate page views and become a “favorite” on your Internet Explorer.

Deadspin’s childish errors page comes off like a spiteful ex-girlfriend, who takes a bat to your car. Simmons, or anyone of his writers, misspelling Rich Peverley’s name isn’t the end of the world. And doesn’t take away from the main idea of the column.

ESPN taking shots at the ambiguous concept and content of the site – especially when there are so many other issues available to discuss other then a two-week old website – is virtually perfidy. Mainly because, well, the site’s two weeks old. The parent company taking shots at Grantland undermines its success.

Lets forget about that minor major detail. ESPN’s jabs are also alarming, and un-warranted, because the backing from the “World-Wide Leader” has failed. The site has experienced multiple server issues. So is it fair for ESPN – who is supposed to be supporting Grantland – to take shots at Grantland after two weeks, when they aren’t holding their end of the bargain up? It would be like a mechanic making fun of your new rims, while the new breaks they installed failed a week earlier.

The precursor to those 500+ words of writing is that all of that analysis (read: analysis of analysis) occurred only 2 weeks following the site’s launch. That’s probably because of the Miami Heat-esq hype Grantland had. The site enlists a plethora of renowned writers. Or, just because Simmons is a polarizing figure on the internet. Either way, Grantland is already making money and - under the guidance of The Awl’s David Cho - is in position to make much more.

About Ryan Hadfield

Ryan Hadfield is the author of the weekly Sports Media Musings column at Sports Of Boston. Hadfield is known as one of the top sports media critics in Boston. He also contributes to Boston Sports Media Watch. In November 2011, Hadfield helped launch the new SoB Point Taken blog featuring his podcasts & musings on sports, media and culture. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

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