ESPN Listens Closely To Its Viewers

You guys up for another internal ESPN memo? Hey, sure, why not? It's fun!

This one's the "Weekly Viewer Report," in which the Leader breaks down its reader feedback for the week. We find it mostly depressing; is the biggest college football complaint from fans still "Disliked female commentators during LSU vs. Tulane game Saturday?" Full memo is after the jump.

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WEEKLY VIEWER REPORT
September 24- 30

TOTAL RESPONSE - 4,907 [down 38% from previous week]

Letters 9 ( 2 favorable/general; 7 unfavorable)
Calls 512 ( 176 favorable/general; 336 unfavorable)
Emails 4,386 (1,168 favorable/general; 3,218 unfavorable)
Total 4,907 (1,346 favorable/general; 3,561 unfavorable)


Quick Hits:

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College Football fans disappointed Saturday's Miami vs. Duke game was not televised on ESPN or ABC [25 % of all CFB feedback]
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Viewers outside of the regionalized areas upset Oregon vs. Cal and Clemson vs. Ga Tech games were not televised nationwide
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Viewers offer opinions on Michael Vick town meeting 'SportsCenter Special: The Vick Divide'
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FIFA Women's World Cup fans enjoyed the extensive LIVE coverage, but felt there was too much talk about US goalkeeper during the game against Brazil
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Fans enjoyed ESPN2's presentation of the 2007 Drum Corp International Championships

Top items this week:

College Football - 1,690 (331 fav/gen; 1,359 unfav) [ 9/29 and 9/30 - 661; midweek schedule inquiries - 400; carry over from previous week - 629]
[Volume Comparison: Last week: - 3,486 (f-407, u-3079); This Season - 10,926 (f- 1,646, u- 9,280)]

Viewer feedback to Saturday's games is down 52% from the previous week. Schedule issues remain the primary source of concern among fans, however a significant shift in volume this weekend can be attributed to that fact that we did not leave games in progress and switched away to another match-up.

Scheduling - 780

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Disappointed ESPN or ABC did not televise Saturday's Miami vs. Duke game - 396 [Requested for game to be added to ESPN GamePlan - 186]
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Viewers in the East and Midwest upset Oregon vs. Cal not shown nationally [game was offered in 20% of the country and on ESPN GamePlan] - 129
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Fans outside of the Clemson vs. Ga Tech market upset it was not shown nationally [game offered in 21% of the country and on ESPN GamePlan] - 51
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Viewers complaining about regionalization of Saturday's games on ABC / think it's unfair - 101
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Viewers with no access to ESPNU disappointed they couldn't see Pittsburgh vs. Virginia - 24
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Schedule questions - 79

Viewers' Voice:
- "I live in Colorado; Texas and Kansas State equals BORING. Rest assured your ratings will be weak where CAL/ORG isn't on (besides home team markets) It should be on nationally."
- "Just wanted to write and ask ya'll to put on the Miami /Duke game on one of your stations or GamePlan this week."

Carry-over from previous week - 629:

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Scheduling - Cutting away from games in regionalized markets upset fans - 287
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Commentators - OU vs. TU - unrelated discussion about Notre Dame perceived as excessive - 219
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Schedule questions - 123

Commentators - 160

* Disliked female commentators during LSU vs. Tulane game Saturday - 52
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Commentary during ND vs. Purdue, MSU vs. Wisconsin, USC vs. Washington and Thursday's Boise State game perceived as biased and unprofessional - 83
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Disliked overall commentary - 25

Viewers' Voice:
- "I hope you review the game and the commentator Pam Ward. I really wonder if she knows anything about football. She is calling out things in the game that aren't even close. I don't dislike her commentary she's just off. ex. calling kick offs- punts."
- "Those two you had covering that game are so bad and again ESPN shows its true colors as all out Notre Dame haters."
- "The announcers sound like they didn't prepare for this game. The make simple comments and show hits that MSU makes five times to embarrass the Spartans. Very biased."


Overall Coverage - 88

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Five minute interview with USF head coach during Auburn game perceived as too lengthy - 35
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Disliked halftime shows - 12
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General comments on teams, athletes and coaches - 41

Viewers' Voice:
- "What were your producers thinking? An inane, self congratulatory interview for 5 minutes while a top ranked team is driving, losing by 14 and not a single play call, replay. Bush League coverage."

College GameDay - 33

* Fans requesting CGD come to their schools - 33 [Clemson; UK; Purdue]

Viewers ' Voice:
- "There are rumors circulating that LSU has been given GameDay - AGAIN. Although the official schedule does not come out until Monday, how is that fair? LSU had GameDay a few weeks ago. Florida lost yesterday and Purdue v. OSU has potential to be a great game!"

MNF [Titans vs. Saints] - 675 (124 fav/gen; 551 unfav)
[Volume Comparison: Last week: - 1,404 ; This Season - 10,006 ]
Negative response to commentators and sideline reports accounted for 75% of all feedback. Many viewers say they enjoy our coverage but are 'annoyed' by the commentary. Other feedback included criticism on the PTI segment during halftime; requests for last year's Monday Night Countdown feature "Jacked Up"; and delays in audio or HD issues with their providers. [side note - we received 200+ complaints on the "Jacked Up" segment in 2006 and 14 requests for it this season so far]

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Commentary (506)
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Overall coverage (102)
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Guest and side-line interviews (48)
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Schedule inquiries (19)

Viewers ' Voice:
- "His [Jaws] experience on and off the field coupled with his fantastic delivery of facts during the broadcast is outstanding. I look forward to Monday nights now."
- "I've been watching MNF for 30 years. Love your coverage of football; but really dislike your MNF threesome. Especially Kornheiser? - all they do is argue - don't talk about football that much - seem to like disagreeing and bickering back and forth."
- "Last football season, I looked forward to watching Monday Night Football. Not only because it was Monday night football, but my favorite segment was "jacked-up" during the half time show. I was looking forward to seeing "jacked-up" this season, but I was disappointed with the PTI segment."


Motor Sports - 384 (59 fav/gen; 325 unfav)

[Volume Comparison: Last week: - 315 ; This Season - 7,798]
Moving Sunday's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series at Kansas from ABC to ESPN2 due to a weather delay concerned most viewers this weekend. Many fans with no access to cable, or fans that set their VCR's were disappointed they missed the race. In addition, Saturday's NASCAR Countdown was moved to ESPN Classic due to CFB running long on ESPN2.

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# Enjoy coverage (17) Profanity used by Tony Stewart (10)
# Schedule change (176)
# Dislike Commentary (108)
# Amount of commercials (31)
# Schedule inquiries (24)
# NHRA fans commenting on John Force accident previous week (18)

Viewers ' Voice:
- "I had to be out with the family today so I recorded the race on ABC. After watching until the final rain delay. ABC thought it best to switch to ESPN. For those of us that can't sit on the couch in the middle of the day it was very upsetting."
- "I'm so pleased that ESPN is broadcasting NASCAR. What terrific coverage. Your network puts all others to shame. Please, please keep up the great work. Rusty Wallace does extremely well as a commentator. We hope you have the television contract for the next years."
- "I am so tired of turning on my TV to watch racing countdown and the race on ESPN to find a freaking football game on with the game even going into the start of the race at times!"
- "I didn't hear Tony curse on TV, I wasn't watching. But I've read about it in many different places. I think you guy just go out and try to piss Tony off. You can not tell me that you don't use the delay for professional athletes."
- "Thank you for the 1/2 hour extended NHRA coverage on Sunday.. the overall coverage was excellent.. Although Marty Reid is much better than Mr Page. Terrific job overall, thank you."

News and Information - 337 (70 fav/gen; 267 unfav)
[Volume Comparison: Last week: - 200]
The majority of feedback pertained to Thursday's town meeting 'SportsCenter Special: The Vick Divide' on Michael Vick. Viewers perceived the audience and guests as 'rude', shared their personal take on the case and some accused ESPN of playing the 'race-card: 'These stories divide this country more every day.'

Other fans were commenting on Oklahoma State Cowboys' coach Mike Gundy for going on a rant in the post-game interview after a 49-45 victory over Texas Tech on Monday; and, as in past weeks, some fans are concerned about the selection of highlights and feel their favorite CFB or NFL team is being left out.

SportsCenter - 170

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'SportsCenter Special: The Vick Divide' (81)
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Mike Gundy's rant (41)
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Selection of Highlights (29)
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Dislike hosts (19)

Viewers' Voice:
- "I applaud your attempt to have an educational debate on high profile athlete expectations, but your town hall debate seemed nothing more than a sad attempt to keep the Vick story alive for your benefit."
- "Are you sports reporters or court TV reporters? Michael Vick does NOT play football or any sport for that matter, anymore and your coverage (i.e. The Town Hall meeting for example) is a complete waste of my time WAY to over the top!"
- "Why do you guys have to make Mike Gundy out to be the bad guy because he's sticking up for one of his players who was raked over the coals by an Oklahoma newspaper that basically fabricated most of its story."
- "I have to say that I thought the audience reaction during the meeting was very predictable to me. Nationally Race may not be the major issue in this case, but in Atlanta its all about RACE!!!"


1st and 10 - 46
PTI - 36
ESPN First Take - 30
Mike and Mike - 17
Rome is Burning - 16
Outside the Lines - 12
ATH - 10

Baseball - 176 (41 fav/gen; 135 unfav)
[Volume Comparison: Last week: - 565 ; This Season - 7 ,452]
MLB fans perceived our game coverage as inadequate and were upset that more games were not offered this week. As in the past, frustration over blackouts and biased commentary continue.

* Schedule inquiries (78)
* Blackouts (43) [Braves vs. Phillies]
* Commentators (55) [mainly during Cardinals vs. Astros]

Viewers' Voice :
- "Jon Miller and Joe Morgan spent more time talking about other topics than covering the ball game we were watching. At one point they missed the whole half inning interviewing via the phone a Phillies player."
- "It is the last week of the MLB season, only one of six division races has been decided, the wild card team has not been decided in either league, and ESPN has only ONE game, both day and night, on TV this week!"


Additional Feedback:

Soccer - 132(67 fav/gen; 65 unfav)

[Volume Comparison: Last week: - 277; This Season - 3,516]
Extensive analysis of the decision to take Hope out as a goalkeeper on team USA during the game against Brazil was perceived as disruptive.

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Enjoy coverage and commentary (12)
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Analysis during US vs. Brazil game perceived as excessive (52)
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Disappointed commentators revealed scores of other games (13)
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Schedule inquiries (14)
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General comments about the coaches decision to change goalkeepers (41)

Viewers' Voice:
- "Your post game feature on Hope Solo and her father was very touching. We can criticize this young lady's decision, but clearly the issue was much deeper than "player criticizes coach." I'm very glad I watched it, and I appreciate your decision to air it."
- "I have watched every women's world cup game - showing all games live is exceptional. Your game commentators have been perfect - they call the games, give information and don't get overly boisterous or silly."
- "I waited all day to watch the USA play Brazil in the women's world cup semifinals. When the ESPN2HD announcer at 7:00pm PDST made the announcement 'stay tuned for a replay of this morning's semifinal match and see the USA fall to Brazil.'"
- "I recorded the women's FIFA world cup game (US vs. Brazil) and just watched it with my family. I must say that we all felt it was necessary to MUTE the commentators as they kept going on and on about the Surry vs. Hope substitution."


The Contender - 15(15 fav/gen)
Fans inquiring about casting calls, reairs and a DVD of the series.

2007 Drum Corp International Championships - 16 (16 fav/gen)
Viewers thanking ESPN for televising the event.

Viewers' Voice:
- "I am NOW watching the Drum Corps International Championships, and want to say THANK YOU VERY MUCH for adding these competitions to your programming. I think ESPN2 is AWWWWWWWESOME!"