Because they can’t broadcast the actual games, ESPN struggles every year to find new and exciting ways to cover March Madness. This year, ESPN finally said eff the system, CBS, Turner Sports and the billions of dollars they paid to own the Men’s NCAA Tournament multimedia rights.
With the help of its golden boy Bill Simmons, ESPN is full on ambushing the NCAA’s pre and post game tourney coverage. Simmons with a camera in tow, and a few members of his Grantland posse, which includes Jalen Rose, Joe House, and my personal favorite, Rembert Browne, are setting up shop at Simmons’s residence to provide supplementary programming during the tournament. The coverage will be live streamed at grantland.com/live.
In true Simmons fashion, this rogue experiment won’t include the typical college basketball analysis. Instead, Simmons and Co. hope to provide a little levity and a more down-to-earth perspective to the wildly unpredictable tournament. AllThingsD.com quoted Simmons saying,
We want this to feel like a looser, more irreverent studio show. Like a live podcast where people feel like they are hanging out with us while watching basketball. I have no idea if this will work but we like trying new things at Grantland. … the only way we know if something will be successful is by trying. We will talk about things that I assure you none of the traditional shows will be talking about. Office pools, gambling picks, what we are eating, etc. I can also promise you no other studio show has their mother cooking all day Thursday an Italian feast for everyone to eat on Friday’s shows.At the end of the day this really is just a convoluted way of getting ESPN to pay me to watch basketball with my friends. Oh — and now I can write off part of my man cave on my taxes.
Before live tweeting and live streaming became a thing, Bill Simmons live blogged his thoughts during sport and entertainment events. Fans love his irreverence, insight, humor, and general point of view on sports and pop culture. Including other popular personalities from his Grantland all-star team like Jalen Rose, Rembert Browne, and Joe House makes a ton of sense. While Simmons is the grand poobah of this thing, not to be confused with Grand Puba (although he’s a much bigger deal in my world) Jalen, Rembert, and Joe also have their own cult followings. Whether loved or hated, the supporting trio are pros at provoking reactions, and that’s the kind of entertainment value that would entice you to fire up the laptop and see what they’re up to.
Although live streaming during events isn’t necessarily new, ESPN is making a huge statement by testing the waters. If the response is positive, there’s nothing to stop them from using this as another property to drive revenue, or inspiring other media entities to do the same. Well, until a lawsuit is filed or contract terms are updated to include this loophole.
If you’re interested in this sort of thing, the link to check out the live stream is grantland.com/live. Also, follow their @grantlandlive twitter account so you can stay up to date on when the Grantland team will be streaming.
Right now, they’re tentatively scheduled to go live on Thursday and Friday at the following times:
11:30 a.m. – 12:15 PM/ET
1:30 – 1:45 PM/ET
6:10 – 6:50 PM/ET
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