Advertising Age reports this week that ESPN Classic will launch in the U.K. on March 13th. Here’s hoping the cable channel’s content is a whole lot richer and more relevant on the other side of the pond.
I loved the original "Classic" that aired in the mid-1990’s. In those pre-ESPN days, you could view reruns of the Joe Namath Talk Show from 1969, see a youthful Mickey Mantle and his Yankees do battle with Jackie Robinson’s Dodgers in the 1952 World Series and also enjoy countless episodes of ABC’s fabled Wide World of Sports (with my all-time favorite broadcaster Howard Cosell at the mic).
Ever since ESPN acquired the cable channel, however, Classic has gone to hell in a handbasket. They rarely, if ever, show the great games of yesteryear. Instead, ESPN recycles "instant classics" from last week and PBA bowling events from two or three years ago as well as some totally incongruous show co-hosted by twin brothers that I’m still trying to figure out.
In the process, they’ve totally alienated me (and, I’m sure, hundreds of thousands of other Baby Boomer sports junkies who long to see the Heidi Game just one more time).
So, to my blogging chums in Britain, here’s hoping that you get to see lots and lots of great old clips showing George Best and Henry Cooper strutting their stuff and not some recently recycled nonsense that just aired a fortnight ago on Sky Sports.
There’s nothing classic about alienating your core constituency…whether its politics, marketing or, in this case, broadcasting.