ESPN is reportedly close to completing its full transition to propaganda production as the NFL is in advanced talks to buy a stake in the network. This comes as no surprise given ESPN’s parent company, Disney, has encountered a few well-documented, multimillion-dollar missteps of late, and the network’s facade as a journalistic outlet. For the cynics out there — primarily people who went to J school — this won’t be much different from the status quo, but just so we’re clear, the curtain will dissolve.
The season might already be over for these two
ESPN’s NFL coverage shouldn’t be eligible for Pulitzers, Peabodys, or Emmys because it’ll officially be a PR arm for The Shield, and should be treated as such. The irony of that last sentence is particularly glaring this week as ESPN had to return 30 Emmy statuettes after partaking in a scheme that used pseudonyms to reward its College GameDay talent.
While fake people winning real awards speaks to the hollowness of these industry mantelpieces, they look good on resumés, and could conceivably increase a company’s value. That may not mean much as far as a potential deal with the NFL is concerned, because I don’t know how much an Emmy raises the bottom line.
Regardless, my point is ESPN will be to the NFL what Fox News is to Donald Trump. They’ll have a monopoly on all the breaking news, with Adam Schefter openly wielding the reality stone.
You know those Hulu ads where Kirk Herbstreit repeats “Hulu has live sports” with Scott Van Pelt “begrudgingly” playing along? That’s about to be real life, only swap “ESPN” for Hulu and “the NFL” for live sports.
The Players Association and league owners have been notified of the discussions so we’re beyond the rumor stage. In a potential partnership, ESPN would take over and run NFL Media. That means NFL.com, RedZone, and NFL Network would be overseen by ESPN. You have to wonder how the many Bristol refugees currently working for the NFL feel about a potential reunion with their former company that laid off a ton of its workforce in 2023 — then paid pseudo-journalist Pat McAfee $85 million.
The other newsworthy note in this is that the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand, who broke the story, said ESPN also is working to have a direct-to-consumer model ready by 2025. That’s a cord-cutter’s fantasy, and would be a massive blow to cable companies.
The number of new subscribers alone would greenlight so many documentaries and shows that it could generate a massive amount of jobs and opportunities for … former athletes’ vanity projects and second careers.
Such is life in late-stage capitalism I guess.