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

Exec predicts ESPN will 'do fine' with Japan-Korea

I participated earlier in a conference call to promote an ESPN special called "Her Story," that debuts Friday night. (More on that later in the week.)

One of the participants was John Skipper, the network's executive VP for content and second-highest-ranking overall human.

I asked him how much of a hit it was to ESPN to have Team USA fall to Japan in the WBC semifinals Sunday night, what with ESPN now confronting a Monday night final featuring no teams from this hemisphere.

(By the way, Team USA and Japan drew 2.1 percent of homes in major markets, a pretty good rating.)

"It's an international event,'' he said. "We've had enormous interest from Asian-American and Latin-American communities. So I think we'll do fine tonight.

"If we had the U.S. team playing for a championship we probably have had gotten a better rating, but that's kind of how these things work. We've been thrilled with how it's done so far. And I've learned long ago not to spend too much time trying to engineer results. That's the beauty of sports. You can't engineer them."

What? ESPN doesn't have the power to manipulate sports reality? "That's our story and we're sticking to it," Skipper said. "We've got 'Her Story' and we've got our story, and that's our story."

Tags: espn , wbc

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