One of my favorite shows on television is one that appears weekdays on ESPN. It is called Pardon The Interruption, or simply PTI. The show began broadcasting in 2001. I’ve rarely missed an episode. The format is simple: two veteran sportswriters sit at a table and talk about the sporting events of the day with a shot-clock. When the bell rings, they go on to the next subject. Entertaining and my primary source of daily sports news.
The trick is that the show broadcasts each day at 5:30pm Eastern time. Since I’m on the west coast, it’s not practical to find a TV and watch it live. In the early days, I set up my VCR to record it for that evening. Now I just record it with my DVR. And since we’re in the age of smartphones, my preferred form of consumption is to download the daily podcast which is usually available about two hours after the show airs. Then I can listen while I exercise at the gym. Which is a good plan, because ESPN will sometimes spontaneously move the show to another ESPN channel without warning, defeating the DVR.
Lately they’ve been getting increasingly sloppy with posting the podcasts. There have been some days where the podcast hasn’t been available until after 5:30pm my time; sometimes not until the next day. The production quality of the podcast has also gone down. The audio is so faint that I have to turn up the volume to maximum just to hear them. So when an ad is interjected in-between breaks, I’m nearly deafened by it.
The first rule of show business is to reliable. Repeat viewers are your core audience. Make it available at the place and time you tell people. Each time I am disappointed that the show isn’t there, the higher the probability that I won’t come back.
The second rule of show business is to make your best effort, every time. To do less is being disrespectful to your audience. If the quality is low, they’re less likely to come back.
In both of these areas, I give ESPN a failing grade. It’s ironic because the hosts were recently given contract extensions. They may have a show; but unless ESPN gets it’s act together soon, they won’t have any viewers left.