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Thread: Please write to ESPN regarding how they can improve!

  1. #1
    Kwan's vodka dealer VIETgrlTerifa's Avatar
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    Please write to ESPN regarding how they can improve!

    I found this on FSU:

    www.fsuniverse.net/forum/...596&page=2

    It contains an email address where you can write to people in charge of producing the figure skating coverage:

    eskate@espn.com

    I think it is more important than ever to tell them what we, true figure skating fans want to see on American figure skating coverage. As fans that post on the internet, many of you know that many fans have more options and many of them choose not to watch the coverage on ABC/ESPN because they can download better coverage elsewhere. You also know that this has helped the decline in ratings. That is why it is so important to tell them how we feel now!

    They are looking for ways to improve their dismal ratings, and I feel that they will just keep trying to dumb down the coverage and play to the casual viewer. By doing that, they are losing much of the loyal skating fanbase that make up most of their ratings. So, please write to them and tell them what we want. Otherwise, they will keep making the same mistakes and we won't have any American coverage in a couple of seasons and we will only have ourselves to blame.

    Patrick Brunk wrote a much better letter to them that he posted on FSU, but here is what I wrote to them:

    I would first like to thank you for picking up eligible figure skating international competitions after ABC decided not to renew their contract with the ISU.

    However, I have to say that I feel your coverage could have been done much better than the way it was handled last season. I do think a lot of it was due to the fact that it was your first year covering the figure skating season, and you're still learning what the skating viewership wants to see.

    As a loyal fan of figure skating, I would like to give you some insight on what we want to see. I know many things you do are trying to attract new fans, but as the ratings show, your efforts seem to be failing at gaining casual fans while losing the loyal fanbase you already have. There are a lot of means to get the skating coverage now, and American television isn't the only option to see these competitions anymore. That is why it is more important than ever to get the loyal fanbase back and play to them, rather than trying to dumb it down to the casual population.

    I would like to see more competition and less fluff. I don't mind fluff, and I do find some to be very well-done and enjoyable. However, fluff should never take the place of the actual competition. When half or even a quarter of the coverage is fluff, then it's too much. It would be much better to see more skaters competing. There is more to figure skating than the top 4-6. There are many talented and entertaining teams that do not always place in the top 6, but are very worthy contenders. It would be great to see more than 4-6 competitors because as a real sports network, you know that a competition is better with more competitors competing. You're also really lucky right now because figure skating is much more competitive than ever. All of the disciplines (ice dance, mens, ladies, and even pairs to a lesser extent) have top 10 (maybe even more) that can challenge for medals. You really have a goldmine of talent to show, now just show it.

    Also, your audio seems to be very low. I didn't have a problem with the way ABC did their audio, but I notice that everytime I watch ESPN coverage of figure skating, I can barely hear the music while the commentators seem to have their volumes up much higher. Music is every essential to a figure skating program, and everyone (including casual viewers) would much rather hear and watch a figure skating performance with excellent sound and crisp music than watch one with low music and loud commentary.

    It would also be much better if you'd show the competitions much closer to the date they actually occured. Like I said before, figure skating fans have a lot of means to get the coverage now with the internet. In order to stay competitive, you cannot show a competition 2 weeks after they happened. Even one week is pushing it. I know that may sound harsh, but 2 weeks or more is really unacceptable nowadays.

    Now, I know there are some things I've asked that are beyong your control, but I feel that many of the things I and many figure skating fans have asked for are very possible. I mean ESPN shows hours upon hours of Poker and Eating competitions, so I believe managing the time you do have to show figure skating can be easily done.

    Please show the loyal figure skating fanbase that you do care about this particular viewership and that ESPN did not buy figure skating just to team it up with other "women's" sports on nights where ratings aren't strong anyway in a lame attempt to gain some women viewers.

    Again, thank you for buying the rights to figure skating.

  2. #2
    Custom Title Joesitz's Avatar
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    When writing to ESPN try not to be maudlin. These execs are tough sports guys and the best way to handle them is to make Figure Skating a serious sport that needs substantial coverage. And cut down on the human interest stuff in favor of the actual competition. Be firm.

    Joe

  3. #3
    Custom Title Jhar55's Avatar
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    Why waste your time email ESPN or any other network about skating. They could care less what we'd like to see. Espn ruins skating if you want to tape for veiwing later by running the update thing across the bottom. And the other network by having their logo in the cornor of the screen I think we know what station were watching.
    Yes we'd all like more LIVE skating, not waiting WEEKS after the event to be shown. There is no way they could get by doing that with other sports. So why should skating fans have to.
    Well that's my dollars worth, since a penny doesn't go very far anymore.

  4. #4
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    It's hard to say whether writing letters does any good. But I do think that network executives pay attention to what people like and don't like on TV. I think the shorter the letter is, the more likely someone will actually read it. So I think the best bet is to take one specific thing and give your take on it in just a sentemce or two.

    Personally, I agree with Jhar's second paragraph above. The worst thing is no live coverage. No one wants to see a broadcast of any sporting event after it's all over. We could make the point to ESPN that they are losing their core audience to the Internet and to foreign competition, while at the same time providing nothing of interest to more casual fans.

    Mathman

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    Matt Savoie~Soul Skater CzarinaAnya's Avatar
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    Jhar-I think you just wrote the perfect letter! All you have to do is copy and paste what you just said and send. I sent a letter, but not with the points you made.

  6. #6
    Custom Title Joesitz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CzarinaAnya
    Jhar-I think you just wrote the perfect letter! All you have to do is copy and paste what you just said and send. I sent a letter, but not with the points you made.
    I agree with Jhar but if that went out as a letter would the Execs consider that those suggestions would bring in more money to the ABC family? I think one has to show the financial side of all this.

    Joe

  7. #7
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    I think we'll have good to adequate coverage since this is an Olympic year, even though the Olys live on another network LOL. But I'll be sending a letter to ESPN, so thanks for the e-mail address!
    I will be asking that they put the short programs back on the air. Expanding coverage will keep the loyal skating fans happy and coming back for as much viewing as possible.
    I will also ask that the "experts" in each discipline be allowed to provide the play-by-play. (I hate it when Dick Button used to gibber through pairs and dance coverage, and interrupted Peggy during ladies' events but I will keep my letter positive.)
    I'll be suggesting more information about the NJS, rather than trying to simplify it for the casual viewers. This might mean having "officials" being taped with some explanations about points and rules.

    Julie, keeping her fingers crossed about the season.

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    Custom Title merrywidow's Avatar
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    If you go over to FSU & read the lastest postings about the Patrick Brunk letter you will see that it has its detractors. Particularly the part about sending the commentators to skating school. Very naive for anyone to imagine that commentating while actually watching a live performance is as simple as taping a performance & then rewatching it at your leisure for the sole purpose of picking out flaws made by the skaters & the commentators. There is a good reason that they are more qualified to do this job than the "experts" on the boards.

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    Quote Originally Posted by VIETgrlTerifa
    I found this on FSU:

    www.fsuniverse.net/forum/...596&page=2

    It contains an email address where you can write to people in charge of producing the figure skating coverage:

    eskate@espn.com

    I think it is more important than ever to tell them what we, true figure skating fans want to see on American figure skating coverage. As fans that post on the internet, many of you know that many fans have more options and many of them choose not to watch the coverage on ABC/ESPN because they can download better coverage elsewhere. You also know that this has helped the decline in ratings. That is why it is so important to tell them how we feel now!

    They are looking for ways to improve their dismal ratings, and I feel that they will just keep trying to dumb down the coverage and play to the casual viewer. By doing that, they are losing much of the loyal skating fanbase that make up most of their ratings. So, please write to them and tell them what we want. Otherwise, they will keep making the same mistakes and we won't have any American coverage in a couple of seasons and we will only have ourselves to blame.

    Patrick Brunk wrote a much better letter to them that he posted on FSU, but here is what I wrote to them:
    Excellent letter. I concur with the feelings expressed here. May I make a few suggestions for future?

    Most execs are not likely to read beyond the first or second paragraph. They have too many things to deal with. Try to give them the main points- the bullets. May be even headline it with - "how can ESPN improve its figure skating ratings?"

    Keep the focus on how they can improve the ratings (I know that's what you are telling them, just focus on what THEY want- the bottomline). Perhaps conclude with "If you do this, you will see a big improvement in your ratings". You may even invite them to contact you if they want to discuss this further to get more insight, and they may delegate it to a few low levels to gather that information from fans (although I think I am being way too optimistic here!)

    Some people respond to phone calls better than the plethora of emails they receive, and your point could get lost in the shuffle. In addition to the email, call them and ask for a high level person.

    Thanks for telling us about this. I feel motivated to contact them upon reading your post.

    Vasanti

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    Hopeless fan Doggygirl's Avatar
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    What I sent...

    I tried to keep my e-mail VERY short and to the point (hard for me!!). Here are the points I made. I know the list could be much longer, but I just picked my top 3:

    1) Air the events as close as possible to the actual competition - with nearly instant info available on the internet, I think viewership is lost with each day that goes by.

    2) Maximize coverage of the actual competition. I didn't use the term "fluff pieces" as I'm not sure that term is known that way outside of the heavy duty skating pieces. I referred to a need to focus less % of time on "background pieces."

    3) Commentators - I suggested that during actual performances, commentary be kept to the actual "on ice" action - limit the commentary that is background in nature.

    DG

  11. #11
    Custom User Title CDMM1991's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doggygirl
    I tried to keep my e-mail VERY short and to the point (hard for me!!). Here are the points I made. I know the list could be much longer, but I just picked my top 3:

    1) Air the events as close as possible to the actual competition - with nearly instant info available on the internet, I think viewership is lost with each day that goes by.

    2) Maximize coverage of the actual competition. I didn't use the term "fluff pieces" as I'm not sure that term is known that way outside of the heavy duty skating pieces. I referred to a need to focus less % of time on "background pieces."

    3) Commentators - I suggested that during actual performances, commentary be kept to the actual "on ice" action - limit the commentary that is background in nature.

    DG
    I think your letter may very well be the most effective DG mostly because you were short and to the point, and were not overtly negative. I really hope all your and other fan's efforts help! Thought I can't help but think that people must have already done this and failed.

  12. #12
    Kwan's vodka dealer VIETgrlTerifa's Avatar
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    Thank you for all the suggestions. I do agree that I should've taken more time to organize in a neat and bulleted manner, so the execs (if they do take the time to view it) could just skim it and see the main ideas. If I had the chance to re-write it, I would.

    Also, I know many of you feel that this is just a waste of time and it won't change anything. However, why not try? I mean it will only take five mintues of your time, and better to do it now before the season starts. If they get enough letters about figure skating, then maybe they will start listening. It probably won't work, but what's wrong with letting them know what we want? It's much better than making them guess and fail at every attempt.

    BTW, Merrywindow, the only thing the detractors were arguing about were the commentary comment that Patrick made. If you disagree with him, fine, but please keep this topic about writing to ESPN about ways they can improve the way they present figure skating. I don't want to spark a fight in this thread. I just want people to try to help make our coverage better.

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    Quote Originally Posted by VIETgrlTerifa
    Thank you for all the suggestions. I do agree that I should've taken more time to organize in a neat and bulleted manner, so the execs (if they do take the time to view it) could just skim it and see the main ideas. If I had the chance to re-write it, I would.

    Also, I know many of you feel that this is just a waste of time and it won't change anything. However, why not try? I mean it will only take five mintues of your time, and better to do it now before the season starts. If they get enough letters about figure skating, then maybe they will start listening. It probably won't work, but what's wrong with letting them know what we want? It's much better than making them guess and fail at every attempt.

    BTW, Merrywindow, the only thing the detractors were arguing about were the commentary comment that Patrick made. If you disagree with him, fine, but please keep this topic about writing to ESPN about ways they can improve the way they present figure skating. I don't want to spark a fight in this thread. I just want people to try to help make our coverage better.
    Vietgirl,

    Thank you for writing the letter. I sent one too. Even if the letters don't bring any results, at least we tried.

    Vash

  14. #14
    Hopeless fan Doggygirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VIETgrlTerifa
    Thank you for all the suggestions. I do agree that I should've taken more time to organize in a neat and bulleted manner, so the execs (if they do take the time to view it) could just skim it and see the main ideas. If I had the chance to re-write it, I would.

    Also, I know many of you feel that this is just a waste of time and it won't change anything. However, why not try? I mean it will only take five mintues of your time, and better to do it now before the season starts. If they get enough letters about figure skating, then maybe they will start listening. It probably won't work, but what's wrong with letting them know what we want? It's much better than making them guess and fail at every attempt.

    BTW, Merrywindow, the only thing the detractors were arguing about were the commentary comment that Patrick made. If you disagree with him, fine, but please keep this topic about writing to ESPN about ways they can improve the way they present figure skating. I don't want to spark a fight in this thread. I just want people to try to help make our coverage better.
    Vietgirl, ITA with you and Vash. It only takes a few minutes to send a message - and better to try than to complain (as I regularly do!!) about the coverage, but make no effort to communicate what changes I'd like to see.

    DG

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    Custom Title merrywidow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VIETgrlTerifa
    Thank you for all the suggestions. I do agree that I should've taken more time to organize in a neat and bulleted manner, so the execs (if they do take the time to view it) could just skim it and see the main ideas. If I had the chance to re-write it, I would.

    Also, I know many of you feel that this is just a waste of time and it won't change anything. However, why not try? I mean it will only take five mintues of your time, and better to do it now before the season starts. If they get enough letters about figure skating, then maybe they will start listening. It probably won't work, but what's wrong with letting them know what we want? It's much better than making them guess and fail at every attempt.

    BTW, Merrywindow, the only thing the detractors were arguing about were the commentary comment that Patrick made. If you disagree with him, fine, but please keep this topic about writing to ESPN about ways they can improve the way they present figure skating. I don't want to spark a fight in this thread. I just want people to try to help make our coverage better.

    What few of you seem to be able to grasp is that all the letters of complaint don't mean a thing to a network unless they can find companies willing to buy advertising time. Why is it so difficult to understand how big business works? Why do you expect everything to be handed to you free of charge & on a silver platter? Do you show any consideration for new viewers who don't understand figure skating? No! It's all about the few who have been following skating for a few years. (I've been following it since the late 1960's!) Why not write suggestions to the networks on how best to increase their advertising sales?
    Why not write & suggest "pay per view"? Then we could see all of Nationals or Worlds for perhaps $50.00 or $100.00 per event. Watch it without any commentary because those of us willing to pay to view know & understand what we are watching.

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