John Harkes likely to be analyst for U.S. games in World Cup
Other items from the post-upfront chat ESPN exec John Skipper had with a small group of sports media journalists Tuesday morning:
On whether Bill Simmons is close to re-signing:
"We value what Simmons does. He’s a pal of mine. I think the world of him. And it’s my intention for him to be at ESPN for a long time. That answers it indirectly, right?"
On who will serve as the analyst for the United States' games in the World Cup:
"I think it very likely we will have an American, probably Mr. Harkes, on the American games . . . Look, we have on our roster a guy who played a lot of games for the American team, scored an important goal in the 1994 World Cup.
"I don’t know why we wouldn’t use a guy who had that experience in the booth. Our goal is to put the guys in the booth who can provide you with the most information, the most analysis and insight and in this case I think it’s likely that John Harkes could provide insight to the American games and the American team."
On the importance of the U.S. surviving the first round:
"I think getting out of the group would be big. That is kind of the level of expectation for the quality of team we have. We have a good team. It would be disappointing if they did not come out of the group.
"You come out of the group you’re going to play a very difficult opponent. Probably somebody like a Germany. So getting behind that I don’t think there’d be the sense that they underachieved. I think not getting out of the group would be tough. I don’t think it’ll happen.
"At the end of the day, the viewership and the amount of ratings, I don’t think would be significantly altered overall. But it would be pretty big for the sport if they came out of the group."
On whether the network has the "shelf space" on all its channels for its assorted college sports properties:
"There is a shelf space consideration that we have to be cognizant of. That is why we are working hard to build the distribution of ESPNU. There’s some more shelf space. ESPN3.com literally creates infinite shelf space.
"So as we build that network it becomes an accepted place to put live college basketball and football games, it gives us more shelf space. While we’re cognizant of where we’re going to put all these games, we do have a place to put them."
On his favorite entries thus far in the "30 for 30" documentary series:
"I think 'The Two Escobars' [which premieres June 22] is probably the most ambitious and probably the most revelatory of the films. I’m also quite fond of 'Winning Time,' [on Reggie Miller and the Knicks], which I thought was very, very entertaining. Because I was a Baltimore Colts fan as a kid, I loved the Barry Levinson film 'The Band that Wouldn’t Die.' But I’m not unhappy with any of them. They’ve been awesome."
By the way, ESPN is considering expanding the series to 32 films, without changing the name. Kind of like the Big Ten having 11 teams . . . and counting.