When I read* that ESPN was sending three guys to cover Miami Heat Training Camp for a week, desk and all, as well as setting up a special section on its web page dedicated to Heat minutiae, I was not surprised to see the following this morning.
AP BREAKING NEWS 09/28/2010: Disney owned ESPN network has been sold to the NBA’s Miami Heat for an undisclosed sum. At the forefront of cable TV since its founding in the late 70’s, ESPN came to dominate sports television while making SportsCenter the most identifiable brand of sports coverage on the globe. Says Walt Disney Company President and Chief Executive Officer Robert Iger, “Eighty per cent of ESPN’s budget for the next six years was going to be spent on Heat coverage anyway. By selling now, we not only save a ton but get rid of that guy who keeps yelling ‘he could go all the way’ at company meetings.”
Plans include merging the current menu of stations into just 3. The first will feature live Heat games including pre and post-game coverage. The most recent game will be continually replayed to fill the remaining air time. The second station is 24/7 live coverage of LeBron James. “Kinda of like the movie The Truman Show, but only in real life,” explained Heat President Pat Riley. To keep things interesting while King James is sleeping, highlights of James’ middle and high school career will be shown in the bottom left corner. The third channel is more of an interactive fan station. It will feature various shorts of Heat players out in the community, often in fan’s living rooms. “We want our fans to really get to know our players. It’s not just about what happens on the court,” explained four-time championship winning coach Riley, “It’s what happens when players can meet fans in the comfort of their own bed, I mean living, rooms.”
All current ESPN employees will be retained except those that criticized ESPN’s The Decision*, the hour-long discussion with LeBron James in which he told the world that he had hired a talent moving company and would be living Le Dolce Vida on South Beach. Any on air personalities and other staff unable or unqualified to cover basketball will be dismissed as well. “We need to use all those football and baseball cameras to do Heat Bosch and Heat James,” said Riley referring to the names of Stations two and three (Station one will be named Heat Wade). “It’s nothing against the other sports.”
Pursuant to those who have seen the actually terms of the deal, both Charles Barkley and Jeff Van Gundy are banned from appearing on any of the three stations.
The Heat will relocate ESPN from Bristol, Connecticut to a warehouse just outside of downtown Miami. A deal may be in place to sell the current complex to a fledging sports network named NASN (Non-Asskissing Sports Network).
Shares of Disney fell 55% in active trading following the announcement.