ESPN's Secret Interoffice Complaint MemorandumS

Sometimes we forget, in all the frustrations and angst that watching ESPN causes us, that Bristol really is just an office. An office with a cafeteria, a human resources department, water coolers, parking spaces and football analysts who take pictures of their penis. It's like all of our offices. Sort of.

The managers in Bristol, in order to better maintain positive employee relations, host occasional "Town Meetings," in which the rank-and-file question their department heads about all the usual matters that come up in an office. It's our pleasure to have come across a complete transcript of an inter-office memorandum from John Skipper himself, answering all the different gripes from the ESPN staff. Here's an excerpt:

Question: How come they took away the majority of the television channels? Is basic cable too much to ask for? TNT and FOX at least play a lot more sports on them than the soap opera network.



Skipper: In order to build a digital tier to show HD games and ESPN Networks, some consolidation was necessary. There is an ABC Pod that includes SoapNet and Toon Disney that ESPN transmits, which must be monitored. This change allows us to view all 40 procs (every incoming sporting event on all other networks) throughout the campus.

It's a fascinating document that's a rare peek inside the insular world of ESPN; who knew they were so up in arms about pet insurance? The full monty, the whole transcript, is after the jump. Enjoy.

MEMORANDUM

TO: Content Staff FROM: John Skipper DATE: 07/16/2007

SUBJECT: May '07 Town Meetings Q&A Follow-Up

During our May Town Meetings, there were several questions that I was unable to answer. All of the replies below are from various department heads, who were able to address those particular questions.



Question:

Could you please discuss the target date for populating the new Building 4 and which ESPN departments will fill the building?

Answer:

The target date for populating Building 4 is the end of July 2007. In keeping with our overall campus plan, the building will mostly be devoted to support our production needs. It will house, for example, a new newsroom that will support all our media outlets.

Question:

I am very surprised about the lack of adequate training and guidance for new employees. At least in my department, the training on everything from the publishing system, to SAP, to compliance training is very inadequate. Does the company plan to address this? I think if new employees are given better training and mentoring, we would retain more employees, and this would obviously benefit the company in the long run.

Answer:

In the past year we have revamped new hire education and have created two classes: Rookie Camp and All Stars. Both are designed to provide foundational information for new employees. If there are questions around the content or the quality of these sessions or if you have further suggestions, please send specific questions to the training team. Josie Paruta is in charge of the new hire experience.

Question:

Have there been thoughts about security offering rides to employees parked way past the duck pond late at night - for security reasons?

Answer:

Any employee who has concerns for his/her safety and wishes to be escorted to their vehicle at any time, day or night, can request a security escort by calling the ESPN Security Shift Supervisor on duty at x2486 or x2214.

Question:

What steps are we taking to replant trees somewhere else in the area and to replace the ones we cut down to make room for the satellite farm?

Answer:

Whenever we cut down trees we always replenish with new trees and shrubs wherever possible. A landscape plan is always part of our master planning. At the teleport we will be replanting trees along the southern boundary of the property and seeding with a wildflower and grass mix to stabilize the slopes.

Question:

Why did it take so long to get Kenny Mayne back in the SportsCenter rotation? For a while there, I thought he was employed by Progressive Auto Insurance.

Answer:

We are very happy to have Kenny Mayne back on SportsCenter every Sunday night. As you may know, Kenny had a number of other responsibilities, thus, it was difficult for him to be on SportsCenter on a regular basis.

Question:

According to a Securitas company performance expectation memo found by a copying machine in the Digital Center, it is quoted as stating: "Do we want you, (security), to come to work even when you're sick? Yes, we do. We want every employee to be at work every day." Understandable that Securitas would want their security guards at work every day, however, I do not think it's right to demand that security guards need to be on ESPN campus, and in our buildings, when they are really sick. This opposes ESPN's sick policy, even though Securitas is an outsourced company. Do you agree that the sick policy for security guards can directly affect ESPN employees' exposure to sickness and that the policy is too strict? If so, how should this be handled?

Answer:

Security was not aware of this memo and will address the concerns it raises with Securitas to understand its full context. Security will certainly express their concern for the well-being of all on our campus and how illness can affect our employees. We appreciate this being brought to our attention.

Question:

Will there be an ESPN.com editorial presence in the Los Angeles office?

Answer:

We will consider the opportunity to include ESPN.com staffing when the L.A. Bureau opens, but we have not made any definite plans at this point.

Question:

What's being considered as the next big content initiative that we need to get at the top of our priority list?

Answer:

Near term is the NASCAR Nextel Cup and specifically the Chase. The company has done a great job getting up to speed with the Busch series, NASCAR NOW and our ESPN.com NASCAR content, and soon attention will need to turn to exceeding viewership targets for the Chase. Longer term, SportsCenter and continuing its evolution is essential. The growth of SportsCenter as a brand is crucial and as we look to make the show portable to various digital platforms and international territories, while making certain that the content continues to live up to and exceeds fans expectations. Additionally, expanding and growing some of our other key studio programming franchises with on-line extensions will be a key focus.

Question:

Now that the Data Group has a more established presence than SportsTicker had, what are your thoughts on the direction of the group?

Answer:

The Data Group is looking to build the most comprehensive repository of sports statistics in the business, including all of the stats distributed over all our various platforms. For example, we have reached a long-term deal with the Elias Sports Bureau to become the provider of season and historical stats for the major pro sports on all our platforms. Elias is the official statistician for the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and Arena Football, and this will make ESPN the only company to have those leagues official stats on all its platforms. Look for Elias' stats to begin populating ESPN.com's pages with the NFL season this fall and rolling out sport-by-sport into 2008. The Data Group is also looking to substantially augment our college football and basketball data areas. We are also in the process of expanding our delivery of live game data from the official scorers' machines to our various platforms — continuing our improvement of data accuracy — and we are building data warehouses that will provide the type of statistics splits that you only see for pro sports at this point. Look for these types of college football stats on ESPN.com before the start of next season. We already have built the deepest NASCAR data warehouse in the business. It has been available to studio and remote this season, and will soon appear on ESPN.com. We're also looking to take statistical development in new directions — from pitch-type and pitch speed breakdowns to statistical win probabilities for various sports.

Question:

I put forth a STAR suggestion to try to change our shuttle buses and other company-wide vehicles to bio fuel alternatives, (such as used cooking oil), and the idea was not accepted, (which is fine). But now the shuttle buses have changed over to waiting at each stop, (Building B for example), for 15 minutes while idling the whole time, using up gas, (diesel), and emitting pollutants, I'd love to see the whole shuttle service reviewed completely. How about electric power? If you want to keep diesel, it makes sense to shut off the buses when not in use.

Answer:

Unfortunately, alternative fuel buses are presently not manufactured in a size appropriate for our use. But facilities does continue to keep abreast of the various fuel source technologies and when and if available, they will look to utilize less polluting variations. We have had E85, ethanol capable vehicles, within our company fleet since 2001 but have not been able to purchase ethanol fuel locally because it is not sold in our area. We have previously explored an after market exhaust scrubber to reduce emissions but have found the technology to be unavailable for our buses at this time. We will continue evaluating exhaust scrubbers for future usage.

As for turning off the vehicles, based on information from the bus manufacturer, this would significantly impede their operation and useful life. Continually starting and stopping of the engines would cause excessive wear and tear on the starter, motors and ignition systems.

Question:

What about all this talk I'm hearing about ESPN going 1080i? I thought 720p was our chosen format? Won't that make all our technology in the DC1 unusable?



Answer:

ESPN is not planning on going to 1080i at all. We are reviewing the potential of 1080p for future facility projects.

Question:

Why does it seem that the motto of "Pay for Performance" is just a gimmick? It seems that the motto should be "Put in your time and you may get a raise." Even though there are many members excelling in their positions, it seems as though there are a very limited amount of promotions or raises being given. Those that are given a raise or promotion only seem to be those who "Deserve it for their time" meaning they have been here longer, even if they are not performing as well as a new employee.

Answer:

The best avenue to understand how a person in your area can move up the career ladder is to speak with your manager. They can share with you the expectations of the role and share the job family grid which outlines the career progression for a group of jobs. You may also want to review the competencies in the Performance Connection with your manager to further understand what is expected.

Having the skill to perform a given position comes from a variety of places. It may come from experience over many years in a role or it may come from related experience from another job or industry. In either case, selection is based on the best suited candidate for that role.

Question:

What is being done, (if any), to address sleeping issues of on-duty security personnel? Is there a radio/phone-in person check-in at specific intervals during the overnight hours to prevent an officer from falling asleep on duty?

Answer:

Security posts are rotated every one to three hours to keep the security officers alert on the third shift. The contract security supervisors and our security staff patrol at night to make sure individuals are performing their duties. Any employee who sees a security officer sleeping should immediately report it to the ESPN Security Shift Supervisor on duty at x2486 or x2214.

Question:

Can you please explain what happened with the previous security vendor? I heard that all of the security guards lost their jobs here without an opportunity to return once a cheaper vendor put in a bid. I feel that this was not a good example for ESPN to set - even though they were not employees they were still integrated in the community and it felt like a bad way for them to go.

Answer:

The security contract for our campus was put out to bid and Securitas secured the work. The bidding process saved the company a substantial amount of money. The fact that the guards from the previous company were not allowed to remain was due to the previous company's policy prohibiting them from working for another security company at ESPN for a period of one year. ESPN was not involved in any way with that decision.



Question:

When will the bicycle rack in front of the south door of Building 3 be reinstalled? It was removed last year during construction.

Answer:

The bike rack has been reinstalled.

Question:

Why do we have to wait an entire calendar year to receive 1-yr of service time? For example, my start date was in January. I worked from one January to the next and didn't receive 1-yr credit for service when the following January came around. Basically, I had to work 23 months to get 1-full year of service time. So, after 5 years of work, to receive a 3rd week of vacation I need to work 6 years. Why can't the time be retroactive? If my start date was January 15, 2002, then I should receive my 3rd week of vacation January 15, 2007, instead I have to wait until January 1, 2008.

Answer:

You are eligible for 3 weeks vacation beginning in January of the year you celebrate your 5th year anniversary. As an example: If you started in July of 2000, then you would receive 3 weeks vacation beginning January of 2005.

Question:

What are the plans for EOE and the company creating more original content?

Answer:

It is our intention to continue creating, developing and producing original content in all programming genres for multiple distribution platforms.

Question:

With the switch to Verizon for ESPN phone content, will our company phones, (Treos), be switched to Verizon?

Answer:

There are no plans to switch to Verizon. Verizon does not offer international coverage and it would be a lot of work to constantly swap a Verizon phone for a Cingular phone based on international travel. It also would require two processes to manage the phones, one for each vendor. Currently our rates are the same, if not better, with Cingular.

Question:

Is there or could there be an option to receive a pay check once a week instead of every other Thursday? Many of us live pay check to pay check. Being able to be paid every week would help tremendously.

Answer:

All ESPN employees are paid on a bi-weekly basis and have the same pay date. Payroll is a shared service provided by our parent company and ESPN cannot operate under a different system.



Question:

What are we doing to give veteran ESPN employees advancement opportunities besides a management path?

Answer:

Careers at ESPN fall into two paths: managerial and individual contributor. Due to the nature of our work, both paths are very important to our success. We will always need strong managers to provide direction and focus, as well as individuals that bring unique and often highly creative skill sets. The most important part of building your career is to begin with a discussion with your immediate manager to learn what types of jobs are available in a given career path and to understand the requirements to fill a given role. As part of the conversation with the manager, it is a good idea to ask for the "Job Family Grid" which defines the various jobs in a career path. The grid is a good way to see the progression of jobs and skills required for a given job.

Question:

The use of EVS during live Global Productions is a regular set up. It has been brought up to change this and use one play as a primary edit source. This is different for Global because we don't have EVS in a live truck at sight and the EVS here is our only way to cut highlights and roll things back instantly. Is EVS going to be cut out of the live Global show format?

Answer:

The answer would be yes. We are ultimately planning to replace the EVS with the One-Play for Global's live productions. The One-Play gives us similar functionality as the EVS and will not result in a lessening or degradation of production standards for Global. This workflow is currently utilized by Domestic Production, as well.

Question:

It seems like Ad Sales is running the show these day. We are constantly trying to make good commercial inventory liabilities by increasing commercial time and converting most of our promo time. "This can not be the best way to increase ratings and serve the fan." What can be done to prevent these shortfalls from happening in the future? Is there a way to decrease commercial time and increase the rate per commercial? Speaking as a fan, it seems like SportsCenter and our NASCAR coverage is constantly in a commercial break, which is really not a surprise since these two properties have more commercial time/hr. than most other events.

Answer:

The ratings we guarantee to our advertising partners are based on previous year's performance. Limiting our exposure to liability is predicated on our ability to maintain and or improve the ratings performance of our programs from the previous year. We do account for underperformance by setting aside a certain amount of our inventory for audience deficiencies; so there is a certain amount of hedging involved so we do not have to increase commercialization and lessen the fan experience.

We also want to capitalize on the marketplace demand for our networks. On certain occasions, we do ask for promotional time to be converted to national advertising time to maximize our share of the demand. Hopefully, we mitigate that by returning advertising time in return during periods where we deem the demand to be not as strong.

Balancing commerce and content is never an easy task. Our networks continue to offer the least cluttered environments on television. ESPN, ESPN2, Classic, and News make up 4 of the top 5 networks in least amount of non-program time per hour, across the top cable networks for delivering

Answer: (cont.)

men. We also have the shortest commercial pods on television, which is part of the reason why we continue to be on top of the marketplace in terms of pricing.

We have an ongoing communication among marketing, production and programming designed to ensure that when we have lower demand we give advertising inventory to promotion. Winter X games being a prime example of that process in action.

As it relates to the concept of raising prices and cpm's and decreasing the number of commercials, our "Exclusive SportsCenter" is an excellent example of just that... 50 percent fewer commercials in those shows, (from one advertiser), with price increases of 20 percent per unit, plus more investment in all of our media beyond just the prices for those units as a deal point.

It is most important to also consider introducing the concept of average commercial ratings being a currency we will be measured by in the next year as a key metric going forward. So as a company priority, the concept of "game changing advertising solutions" including improving our commercial average rating is where our business is going next.

Question:

All media releases should be released company wide, (by email), the morning that they're being covered in the media. It is too hard to come in in the morning and read what is going on...But more embarrassing to find out through vendors or outside producers what we, as a company, are doing in the future. These notices should be 'generated' emails with the exact same wording that makes it into those press releases.

Answer:

All employees will start receiving ESPN This Week and ESPN Mid-Week, which are press releases that summarize major events for the week and come out every Monday and Wednesday. In addition, we will share all major press releases with all employees. For those who are not aware, all press releases are available, when they are issued, on the intranet under the ESPN Today tab.

Question:

As we continue to negotiate long term deals with rights holders, such as NASCAR, we're taking on more and more ancillary programming that is of average or lower Daypart rating and is not profitable for the company. At the same time, we're squeezing out other smaller but profitable sports that meet or exceed Daypart ratings. Are we concerned that we're devoting too many hours to motors programming?

Answer:

Recent deals, (NFL, NASCAR, NBA), have in fact included far less ancillary programming commitments compared to previous contracts. Regarding the increase in other motor sports programming, we made a decision to add some content, particularly in weekday afternoons, to further cater to motor sports enthusiasts and provide compatible lead-ins to NASCAR Now.

Question:

Can you provide an update on our ESPN.com community strategy and rollout based on The Walt Disney Company concerns?



Answer:

We continue to work with The Walt Disney Company legal team on copyright issues and other legal concerns regarding the community strategy, but are optimistic that we will be able to launch key elements of our fan profile pages by summer. We have successfully rolled out both the MyESPN and conversation pages portions of our community strategy.

Question:

What qualities do you feel a Leader should possess?

Answer:

For guidance, please review the Leadership Competencies in Performance Connection on the intranet for information on what is expected of a leader. Another good source for guidance is your department's HR generalist.

Question:

Can we get an option for pet health insurance?

Answer:

A program for pet insurance was just recently added to our benefits package.

Question:

When will the 13th floor at ABC's 47 West be updated with adequate guest office space and when will the floor be renovated to look and feel like other ESPN offices?

Answer:

The renovation of the 13th floor is in the planning stages by the ABC/Disney construction group and ESPN facilities. Consistent with the overall management of the building, ESPN will do all that we can to meet the needs of our employees.

Question:

What is our commitment to Digital Media, specifically video? Considering the importance and growth in this space, across multiple distribution platforms, (360, .com Video, iTunes, XB LIVE Marketplace, VCast), will we start investing more in either exclusive or original programming for THESE platforms, (not just simulcasts, repurposing TV coverage, or cartoons like Off Mikes), such as webisodes, exclusive digital studio show, etc.

Answer:

We have already begun and will continue to be aggressive in developing new content specifically for digital platforms. With the launch of ESPN Mobile TV on MediaFlo, we launched a new half hour studio effort, ESPN ReSet, which is a Best of the ESPN morning block brought to you in a Talk Soup style format hosted by Trey Wingo. We have also developed original short form interstitial pieces such as Trivia, What 2 Watch 4, and the ESPN.com 411.

Another recent effort beginning to gain significant audience on ESPN.com is Fantasy Focus. It's a 6-8 minute daily show hosted by Matthew Berry and Paul Severino that helps Fantasy Baseball players with news and information that will help them manage their teams. It's currently averaging hundreds of thousands of views weekly and is building an audience through good contextual placement within the Fantasy Baseball game itself and within the MLB section of .com. It serves as a great example of

Answer (cont.):

leveraging the attributes of the non-linear world to develop new programming. By taking advantage of the ability to work with a flexible content length and having the ability to contextually place the content within ESPN.com in places where baseball fans and fantasy game players aggregate, we can build an audience in a very different way than we could by trying to schedule a half hour within our linear networks and promote the programming to create appointment viewing.

Looking down the road, we're looking at developing additional new programming specifically for digital platforms. In the near term, we're looking and programming concepts around a multi platform video driven interactive trivia game and news and information programming focused on video gaming and competitive video game play. We're also working closely with Keith Clinkscales on original programming that can be incubated on digital platforms.

Question:

I have requested the idea of having a speed bag set-up in the health & fitness center. My response to the question when presented to some of the staff members is "no room for it" or "people don't really know how to use a speed bag properly." I fully am aware of the space issue but anyone can learn how to use one. But I'm still not sold on the belief that space is the issue. Proper planning of the layout for one would allow for such a piece of equipment to be implemented to the facility, (basically, re-arrange some equipment and voila!)

Answer:

We are currently assessing whether or not a speed bag would be a piece of equipment that our members would utilize. It is a piece that is occasionally requested, but not often. Space is certainly an issue with regard to where and how the speed bag would be mounted without causing traffic flow issues or potential injury to members. We will certainly keep this request on the table for future consideration.

Question:

I would like an update on the company-wide compensation profiles. How close to completion is this feature for the GRADE salary structure system?

Answer:

ESPN Human Resources is testing and will soon be releasing a personalized compensation profile available on the ESPN Intranet/Human Resources section. This will reflect all aspects of a person's pay, as well as hot links to related pay and benefit sites.

Question:

What are the future plans for ESPN Deportes with the additions of the new distribution platforms?

Answer:

As we increase distribution, ESPN Deportes will be much more aggressive in its pursuit of soccer worldwide, as can be heard in the coming weeks on ESPN Deportes Radio with the finals of Copa America. New distribution will also allow us to continue our pursuit of unique offerings, such as the Pan Am Games, which will be seen and heard on Deportes TV and Radio this summer.

Question:

Part of Building 1, (editing suites, master control, etc.), is being de-commissioned. What will occupy that space now that most of the linear, analog edit machines are gone?

Answer:

Our goal in Building 1 is to eliminate all of the legacy equipment that is no longer supported by the vendor. That equipment has served us well and is in need of replacement. In doing that, we also need to remove all of the cabling that was associated with that gear. If you take a look at the old MCR area on the second floor of Building 1, you will see that all of the rooms, equipment and cables have been removed. That gives us a clean slate to rebuild. Our plans are to rebuild 8 MCR's in that existing space with modern HD equipment. These rooms will service the International networks and are targeted for a March of 2008 completion.

Screening A and the 7 edit rooms on the first floor are going through a similar process. We are clearing them out and rebuilding. In this area we will keep the existing physical rooms for the rebuild. A non-linear edit system will be installed in these 7 rooms. Right now the ETA for completion will be sometime around January of 2008. Other facilities in Building 1 will be decommissioned but at this time there are no concrete plans for rebuilds.

Question:

What do you see in the future for the Data Group? Is an eventual goal to get the entire Content Division onto the main campus? Do you see the content group making any significant expansions in the future, in terms of division, facilities, or personnel, (ex.: the new DC's in Bristol and LA)?

Answer:

As for where the Data Group's future will be based, they are likely to remain at 383 for a couple more years, but do have a request in with Facilities to return to the main campus sometime after the dust settles from all the moves to Building 4. We want to keep our group intact in one data newsroom, so we'll see how that plays out.

Question:

Will we be hiring more people to handle the work that won't get done or to make sure that product quality does not go down now that there is such a major focus on cutting overtime hours? ESPN has created a culture of people that have the work ethic to get it done, get it done right, no matter how long that takes. I don't think just because OT is being cut that this mentality will be so easy to erase.

Answer:

We use multiple factors when considering staffing numbers and continually evaluate the relationship between cost, staffing numbers and quality of life. Information such as that provided from the Employee Opinion Survey and continual feedback from employees and our fans help us make the best decision on staffing. If you have specific suggestions on how we may approach staffing in a new way, please let your manager know.

Question:

Regarding the company store on campus... Programming is in Cheshire, with typical office hours from 9a-6p. This makes it difficult to be able to go to the campus store, since they operate on the same hours. Is it possible to have some days where the store is open 8a-5p or 10a-7p? I would love to buy stuff for friends and family, but would need to leave work early or come in late if I wanted to get something from there. I understand the online store is an option, but would prefer not to pay a shipping fee and sometimes there are minimum purchase requirements for certain items. Thank you for considering this request.





Answer:

We have tested other hours in the past and the schedule we have in place has been the most successful for us and worked well for the employees in Connecticut. The employees in CT all benefit from this store as opposed to employees in NYC and other parts of the country. Unfortunately it's hard to satisfy everyone's needs, however we feel these hours work for the majority of the employees.

Question:

Can ESPN provide healthier options in the vending machines and cafe, (like a variety of protein bars)?

Answer:

Healthier options have been included in some vending machines, but not in all. Also, healthier options can always be purchased in the cafe. We have requested power/protein bars to be included in all vending machines.

Question:

Can MIT put company treo numbers in the outlook address book? I am on the road a lot and it would help to have those numbers at hand.

Answer:

This doesn't exist right now but may be an option. Due to confidentiality, there are a lot of Treo numbers that would not be published, (i.e., talent), and it would be up to the individual to publish if they wanted to. We will look into this as an option.

Question:

Can ESPN put an espresso machine in the cafe for lattes and cappuccinos, (not the ones we have in our break room - an actual manned machine like at Starbucks)?

Answer:

At the present time, we do not have any plans to install an espresso machine for lattes and cappuccinos. We will keep it in mind for consideration in the future.

Question:

I understand and appreciate the companies desire to go paperless. Instead of the old PPR forms we now have the "Performance Connection." As this is all well and good, I have to admit I have a couple of problems with it. I do not see my supervisor all that much and it seems that by putting my accomplishments in to the Performance Connection I am doing his job for him and he does not have to come around and truly see how I am doing. The performance connection is an easy way to keep us apart rather than force us to be together and talk. It is frustrating to have him evaluate me, (and how he does I do not know), when he really has not seen me on a "day to day basis."

Answer:

Your manager should be sitting down with you on a regular basis to provide performance feedback. The Performance Connection is a tool to facilitate the discussion and a way to formally share information. It is not a substitute for face-to-face discussion. If you feel you are not receiving frequent, candid, constructive feedback, please contact your HR generalist.



Question:

How come they took away the majority of the television channels? Is basic cable too much to ask for? TNT and FOX at least play a lot more sports on them than the soap opera network.

Answer:

In order to build a digital tier to show HD games and ESPN Networks, some consolidation was necessary. There is an ABC Pod that includes SoapNet and Toon Disney that ESPN transmits, which must be monitored. This change allows us to view all 40 procs (every incoming sporting event on all other networks) throughout the campus.

Question:

Given the success of Dancing with the Stars" on ABC, (and "So You Think You Can Dance" on FOX), does ESPN plan to capitalize on this nationwide dance obsession, (and high TV/internet ratings), and offer similar programming? Would ESPN strongly consider seeking rights agreements to air existing competitions and/or would EOE develop its own dance competition and/or reality show? If aired in months when neither of the two above series air, it could potentially capture the same audience without direct competition. ESPN would also further expand its viewer base by offering this diverse programming option. Considering the success of pro-athletes Emmitt Smith and Jerry Rice on DWTS, it might be just the right time for a dance competition featuring only pro-athletes. [I have read that

the 2nd Annual World Salsa Championships, (Albert Torres And Salsa Seven Inc.), will be broadcast on ESPN International and ESPN Deportes and I very much hope that they will also be broadcast on ESPN 2.]"

Answer:

We often include content from and play off the success of Dancing with the Stars within our existing studio franchises, including regular updates in SportsCenter and other studio shows, particularly involving the participating athletes. We have looked at ballroom dancing programming and will continue to. One challenge is that the dancing audience is generally not our typical audience. To have a shot at success would require devotion of significant resources, and at that point, it becomes a matter of prioritization.

Question:

Some employees are fearful that the STAR program will cut morale boosters - such as - DVD's during the holiday season.

Answer:

The STAR Committee has received over 1100 suggestions from people in all areas of the company. We work with individual departments and Finance to analyze potential cost savings on many of these suggestions. Final decisions are made either at the executive level for company wide initiatives or from department heads who consider the cost benefit, as well as any potential impact to the staff.

Question:

Why are the portions getting smaller at the cafeteria and the prices continuing to get higher? Is there any option to receive more of a discount, if there is a discount already?

Answer:

The portion sizes in the cafe have not changed since we opened in 1999 and we are pleased to say that we have only increased prices in the cafe once since our opening. The last price increase was in 2005.

Question:

CSTV seems to be winning with high school sports. Shouldn't we do more?

Answer:

We're doing significantly more national coverage of high school sports than any other media company, including CSTV. This coming football and basketball season we will do over 20 live high school football games across ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU and we will shortly be announcing the formation of a new owned and operated High School Football All-American game to be staged in Florida in January of 2008. In basketball we will do nearly 20 total games as well. ESPNU airs a weekly half-hour recruiting program called "ESPNU Recruiting Insider" that ties back to the online resources of Scouts, Inc. on ESPN.com. It's under this banner that we have quickly become the leader with seven hours of coverage of National Signing Day in February and will be covering for the first time the world of College Basketball recruiting this summer. We will continue to aggressively pursue new opportunities to grow our leadership position in this expanding category.

Question:

The growth of the company increases the need for better communication. How will we make better the sharing of information and move away from the trend of working in silos?

Answer:

While we recognize that we can always be better, we believe we have made good progress on improving communication across the company, with more to come. The latest example of this is the success of the STAR project, which began with a very effective inter-departmental committee whose impact spread throughout the company. Ensuring more effective communication about what is happening around the company remains top of mind, and we welcome any ideas that can help us to achieve this.

Question:

How can we involve the creative people in Disney Empire, (i.e.: Pixar, Jerry Bruckheimer), to help us grow creatively with content and technology?

Answer:

The Technology division has been involved with many intra-company efforts through an entity known as the Media Technology Board or MTB. The executive committee of that initiative meets every Tuesday at 11a ET and has representation from every technology based business within Disney. There are also a set of working technology sub-groups that meet across the Disney wide organization on sharing ideas, introducing new technology initiatives in TWDC, and collaborating on solutions and projects. Additionally, we have already started interacting, sharing, and collaborating with our technology colleagues at Pixar. Recently, Chuck Pagano hosted an all day visit and lunch meeting with Pixar's president Ed Catmull for 50+ people from the content and technical sides of ESPN.

Question:

I know that it is human nature to find fault and seldom praise staff members. Everyone knows this is counter-productive. I would like to see improvements here. Do you agree everyone should be praised when they do a good job? Catch people doing something right?

Answer:

Recognition and praise for a job well done is always in order. If you see opportunities for us to do so, be sure to bring it to the attention of your manager.



Question:

Our current practice of moving Network Integrators and Stage Managers into Associate Directors positions and the Directors positions is a bust. When are we going to put experienced people like Technical Directors and Media Operations in those positions? The current Associate Directors get no respect.

Answer:

Associate Directors are hired based solely on their qualifications, pertinent experience, desire, initiative and the quality of their work. All candidates are considered equally, whether they are currently ESPN employees or outside candidates. There is no departmental practice of only seeking candidates from Network Operations or the Stage Managing staff. In fact, our Studio Directing staff features at least 6 former ESPN Technical Directors who were hired as ADs and worked their way up to Director.

As to the issue of respect, the entire Creative Services and Studio Directing departments fully respect and appreciate the hard work of our Associate Directors. If you feel that respect is an issue with anyone on the AD staff, please reach out to Studio Directing management.

Question:

There is more of a demand for clean nats to be used on bumps, highlights, vos, but the majority of the feeds don't have clean nats, forcing production assistants and editors to find clean nats, which slows up production. What is the likelihood of getting clean nats on all feeds instead of just ESPN?

Answer:

We would like to be able to bring in clean nat on all feeds, unfortunately, some broadcasters don't offer that option to us.

Question:

I understand that people will always complain about salary. I don't think the pay is an issue. However, I do think vacation time is. If we are the "gold" standard for cable, why do we get the same amount of vacation as retail and fast food employees? A little more vacation may lead to less burnout and fresh minds and actually save the company money. If the answer is Disney, aren't there ways that managers can circumvent that reasoning and provide comp days?

Answer:

We are part of the Disney benefits package and follow their policies. We do not advocate managers going outside the system. We want all employees to be treated in the same manner and allowing individual managers to create comp day arrangements would not be equitable across the company. Disney is currently reviewing many of the benefit offerings, and vacation is one area. As we get more information on the progress of the Disney team, we will let you know.

Question:

With the use of the rundown on SportsCenter, does that insult our HD viewers, since we replaced the stunning HD with a still graphic?

Answer:

Because of the hard work of various people in studio production and production operations, we are able to still have HD video for SportsCenter when we have the rundown inserted for the morning re-airs — we have 2 different versions, (an SD version and an HD version).

Question:

Can we place more recycle bins for cans and plastics in the Digital Center? We need receptacles outside of the control rooms.

Answer:

We will order bottle/can recycle bins for the outside of the control rooms in the Digital Center. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

Question:

How can we enforce the use of paper recycling bins vs. trash bins in the Digital Center?

Answer:

We have tried to educate employees on recycling, but proper direction and enforcement resides with local supervisors. Peer pressure is also a powerful tool for positive change, co-workers reminding others to recycle and use the trash/recycle bins appropriately would be invaluable.

Question:

Pertaining to Sales, we have multiple film outlets with the Disney Company, do we use these to advertise our Brand?

Answer:

We work with the Disney Studio to not only support their films, but to support ESPN initiatives and find branding and marketing opportunities. Many films have included ESPN branding, (product placement, footage placement, talent integration), which we actively pursue opportunities for. Additionally, when there are movies like last year's INVINCIBLE, (a true story about an NFL football player), we look for ways to cross-promote an initiative of ours like Monday Night Football.

Question:

Has there been any thought to making another ESPN Channel and just gear it to the Outdoors? (Bass, Hunting, etc.). I think this would be a great idea.

Answer:

Over the years there have been discussions internally about an ESPN Outdoors Channel. However, at this time, ESPN has no plans to launch an Outdoors Channel.

Question:

Does International have any plans to expand in Europe?

Answer:

The simple answer is yes. We've had a lot of growth in Europe over the past 12 months and will continue to expand the ESPN brand. Some of our recent activity includes the launch of ESPN Classic in the U.K. - the latest launch of the ESPN Classic networks in Europe. We already have Classic networks in France, Italy and several other European territories.

You may also have recently read about ESPN's acquisition of NASN, (North American Sports Network), which distributes programming in several countries across Europe.

Answer (cont.):

We have an established internet brand in Europe - espnsoccernet.com, and it recently expanded its languages to include French, Italian and Spanish, (as well as English).

We will continue to seek opportunities in Europe as it is a key area of growth for ESPN.

Question:

Can the shuttle service, during the week and on special occasions, include 719 Middle Street?

Answer:

We do not have the necessary resources to service 719, 5 Century and 39 Dell Manor. We will continue to monitor the service and make adjustments whenever possible.

Question:

Has there ever been a thought on working with Orange County Choppers from the TV Show "American Choppers" on TLC to build an ESPN themed bike to raffle off to help raise money for the V Foundation? Orange County Choppers has done bikes for NYPD, FDNY, Jorge Pasada foundation, Wendy's, Sunoco - to name a few. They are mainstream and would offer up a new line of audience for us, plus raise money for a great cause.

Answer:

We are in fact developing sales strategy targeting the motorcycle category for an advertising/marketing partnership around the 2008 ESPYS. Sales is in the process of developing the proposal and seeking the appropriate approvals for sale this fall.

Question:

My child attends Whiz Kids Daycare, which is right next to where the new generator building is going. I know our generator building now can be loud and give off smoke. Will this new building have any negative affect on the daycare?

Answer:

The construction of the second generator facility and all of its operating features, including the generators themselves, comply fully with Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and the US EPA's regulations governing emissions and public safety.

Question:

Are Mike & Mike or is Bristol planning on hosting any major events like the wedding last May?

Answer:

We are always looking for new and fun ways to have Mike and Mike entertain our fans. Recently on The Mike & Mike Show, here in the Digital Center, they did a segment on Mike Greenberg milking Sox the Cow. We always love to hear from fellow employees on any ideas that they may have.

Question:

The Diversity numbers include Deportes, which is mostly minority based. What are the numbers without Deportes?

Answer:

The largest minority population is in International Production, not Deportes.

Minorities in Deportes and International Production combined represent just over 2%, (2.2%), of the total minority representation in Content. Women in Deportes and International Production combined represent just under 2%, (1.7%), of the total female representation in Content.

Question:

Can employees keep the trees that ESPN throws away when doing new construction?

Answer:

No, employees cannot keep the trees. ESPN analyzes all trees and shrubs that are scheduled to be displaced. Once it is determined which trees and shrubs can survive the move we have them bagged, tagged and relocated. Anything left is then the possession of the contractor. Many of the trees and shrubs at the cafe project have been transplanted at Building 4 and other locations on the campus.