Neil Best leaves no stone unturned in the world of sports media.

Big bowls roll to cable

ESPN gets cranky when people like me distinguish between events on broadcast and cable TV.

That includes the first-ever all-ESPN BCS slate that begins Saturday and continues through the Jan. 10 finale, which will be the biggest U.S. sports championship ever determined on cable television.

Oops, there I go again.

John Wildhack, executive VP of programming and acquisitions, told me Friday that while carrying the big bowls “is a great signature moment for our company,’’ he added, “In terms of the so-called movement from broadcast to cable, that [distinction] is archaic.’’

Fair enough, mostly. ESPN is in just shy of 100 million homes compared to about 115 million for its broadcast sibling, ABC.

In the New York area, only about 4 percent of homes don’t get the channel – well below the national figure – and the percentage is even smaller among avid sports fans.

Truth is, it was a little strange when Fox had the BCS, what with ESPN’s year-round commitment to the sport. So the change of scenery this season makes sense from a viewer standpoint.

“We’re there literally from August when the kids report through the end of the year,’’ Wildhack said. “It was a natural.’’

Wildhack said in TV terms the long wait until the Jan. 10 Championship Game is a positive, providing “a little bit of separation’’ from other games to allow the anticipation to build.

But first there are the Rose and Fiesta on Saturday, a day Wildhack said might be the most highly rated cumulatively in the 31-year history of the network.

Tags: ESPN , BCS

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