Darren Rovell Award Winner: BTN President Mark Silverman

Darren Rovell Award Winner: BTN President Mark Silverman

Let’s makes this clear right off the bat- this Darren Rovell award is being given to Big Ten Network President Mark Silverman, not ESPN 1000  midday co-host Marc Silverman. Don’t get the two confused. Silvy of Waddle and Silvy is a good dude, entertaining and informative co-host, and a great follow on Twitter.

All national sports media and local Chicago media are eligible for the Darren Rovell award. Of course, priority will be given to Chicago sports media candidates. With Darren Rovell being a Northwestern alum and ESPN personality, this award is both local and national.

The Darren Rovell award will be given to the person/outlet who either

a.) gives us obvious product placement in their “journalism” or

b.) engages in prodigious self-promotion.

Often candidates do both at the same time. If you have a candidate for the Darren Rovell award, email thesportsbank DOT net AT gmail DOT com

BTN President Mark Silverman “wins” it today because…….


…well, most of his speech at Big Ten Media Day Wednesday. It was nearly all Rovellian enough. But this specific soundbite is emblematic. It summarizes the theme and tone of the speech, and it is the essence, the VERY ESSENCE of the Darren Rovell award.

“Making a little news here today, in case you haven’t had enough news made so far, BTN2Go now available on Comcast. So you can do it right now if you’re a BTN subscriber, plug in your customer log-in information and be able to access BTN2Go. Now, with Comcast now onboard, every single top distributor of BTN offers BTN2Go free to any authenticated subscriber of BTN.”

Now I know Silverman was kind of joking with this statement, at least I think he was, but when I heard it, I thought: yes, stop everything I’m doing right now: all other stories must get pushed back for this. BTN2Go on Comcast is TOP PRIORITY! The #1 story that I must tweet out instantly and compose an in-depth report on AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! NOW! URGENT! BREAKING!

It’s what I expected from Mark Silverman’s time at the podium; well I knew it would be 20 minutes of shilling the BTN. I didn’t think it would be this blatant though. There is some news value in his speech, as well as the Q&A session. And I recommend you read the entire transcript here. There are some good nuggets of info.

However, I also had very low expectations for Mark Silverman’s answer to my question. And his response was even less insightful and informative than even I expected.

Q. How would you define what BTN is? A news agency? Promotional vehicle? Broadcast medium? How would you sum it up?

Mark Silverman: It is a leading collegiate sports network that is devoted to bringing the Big Ten programming to all of its fans across the country.

It was a pretty simple, straight-forward question. With an easy answer. I was looking for a general designation, not corporate propaganda. Because a lot of people think BTN is a news network, it sounds like a news network, and sometimes acts like a news network.  However, we certainly know it’s NOT a news network. Network spokeswoman Elizabeth Conlisk told USA Today in the wake of the Penn State, Jerry Sandusky and Joe Paterno scandal, by far the biggest story in conference history, this:

“We do not have a 24-7 news operation. To compare us to full-time news organizations is a little bit inaccurate. We do however recognize that, to be credible, we cover issues like what is happening at Penn State and we do report them. But we’re measured.”

BTN ignored these stories: the firing of Joe Paterno, the arrest/resignation of the A.D. and President, the PSU riots, pretty much anything involving Jerry Sandusky and Mike McQueary, and the Freeh Report. They did however break in to cover the Penn State sanctions by the NCAA as they were handed down.

The conference doesn’t tell the network what to cover, said conference spokesman Scott Chipman in the same USA Today article:It is up to the BTN to independently cover stories as they see fit.”

Past Darren Rovell Award Winners:

Chicago Cubs

Terry Hutchens, Indianapolis Star

Darren Rovell, ESPN/ABC

Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net, an affiliate of Fox Sports. An analyst for 95.7 The Fan, he also writes on Chicago sports media for Chicago Now. President Obama follows him on Twitter (@paulmbanks)

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