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.