It seems that with ESPN it has two things in mind when it comes to covering sports. One, if the east coast teams are playing they get the first appearance on SportsCenter and two, the sport of hockey is not existent on their network. Now you can include a 3rd point and exiling MMA and it’s coverage to the likes of Roller Derby and World’s Strongest Man.
Before you ask well there are weekly chats and they have increased their coverage, but the mindless shifting of MMA Live is ignorant to fans who want to get insight and opinions from fighters and journalists.
With Jon Anik recently signing with the UFC who will be doing broadcasting work on the new TUF show is a great mind who tried each and every way to try and push the sport of MMA into Bristol. But every Friday night the show was always pushed back to alternative programming or ignored throughout the week.
With MMA Live I did not see one advertisement on the many channels ESPN owns in terms of what the show is about and getting more viewers to tune in. But with a sometime 2AM central time start of the show I guess ESPN didn’t feel there was a point.
Hockey is treated the same way on the network for some reason that it doesn’t either draw enough viewership or is not a sport that is big enough to be covered. I guess ESPN wants to cover more and more of the lockout of basketball and rehash the same stories day after day instead of giving time to both MMA and hockey.
Before the UFC struck a deal with FOX for 7 years many other networks were in talks in bringing the sport and company to their broadcast schedule. ESPN was even sending out their MMA Live crew to events to cover the pre and post show of events and had interviews with the winners and UFC President Dana White. It looked like ESPN was finally giving into what people have really struck an interest in. Unfortunately, it was all smoke and mirrors.
With FOX finally being the winners of the deal with the UFC, ESPN decided that the time of MMA isn’t important anymore. I understand the business side of things but at the same time MMA is already becoming more mainstream every day. With MMA Live ESPN had a great opportunity to open up the sport to others who are on the fence on what MMA is all about. But, the show has been given a terrible time slot and sometimes that time slot is skewed every week.
With the amount of talent ESPN has from Brett Okamoto, Chuck Mindenhall, and Josh Gross just to name a few they deserve better than what they are getting. Yes there are chats, articles posted every day but the next step is television coverage and even though the show has been around it’s still stuck in first gear.
With Jon Anik he worked tirelessly to make sure MMA was a focal point to upper management and was the face of the ESPN and MMA connection. Now that Anik has left and has gotten a better chance to show his skills in a company that is always growing the sport I’m sure he has no regrets.
Now I’m sure Anik will be happy with the better working hours (he also did voice-over highlights and numerous other jobs for ESPN) and enjoy the Las Vegas weather, but did he see that ESPN was just keeping it’s MMA coverage at a minimum? That he tried everything to move that next level of coverage and it wasn’t in the company’s “cards”.
Whatever the case is the proof is every week that when you turn on ESPN 2 when MMA Live is scheduled to come on at 10PM, football or other programming is being broadcasted. The ratings suffered because even though fans couldn’t watch the show they didn’t know what time to DVR due to the show at times being shown 3 hours later.
The staff that covers MMA at ESPN deserves better and so do the fans that want more and more news, interviews, and coverage each and every day. Instead the MMA coverage is kicked to the curb and instead turned to what Derek Fisher had for lunch. Give the show a solid time slot that will air each and every week because not many people are going to wait for the show to come on as the sun is about to come up.
ESPN needs to wake up as they are losing out on what could profit them in the future. Or will the World Wide Leader in Sports not live up to their name and continue to shun MMA like they do hockey?
Time will tell.