Why Hiring Jason Whitlock is Good for ESPN, But Bad for Fox Sports
As you know Jason Whitlock and I don’t always see eye to eye on certain topics, but to his credit he never seems to take it personal (I can’t say that for a lot of media people).
The Big Lead broke the news that Whitlock is going back to the network he famously left back in 2006. Whitlock got into a major disagreement back then with ESPN and it led to his move over to Fox Sports.
While some will roll his their eyes at a potential debate between Whitlock, Stephen A. and Skip Bayless, I am realist and I see the future of media is trending more toward the 1st Take style of media and away from the Outside of the Lines style of media.
Whitlock fits that niche, love him or hate him, he gets you to pay attention to him. ESPN in my opinion made the move as much to keep Whitlock off Fox Sports than anything else.
Fox Sports in promoting their new network as an alternative to ESPN programming and Whitlock is more of an ESPN style media personality anyway now. I don’t think anyone at Fox Sports is shedding tears about him coming off the payroll. They were basically paying for Gilbert Arenas at this point.
Why pay millions to Whitlock, when in the new age media world, any low-level writer can write a Johnny Manziel/Rosa Parks story and get the same reaction? But, Whitlock was only the high-profile African-American writer on FoxSports.com, so that void needs to be filled. While the TV side is filled with big name African-American journalists, remember we live in a digital world and people like hearing different perspectives. The question begs is the overhaul at FoxSports.com to a more blog based, sports entertainment site (USA Today did the same thing) lead to the death of featured high-profile columnist like Jason Whitlock? From a financial standpoint it makes sense, people don’t care as much about the writer, they care about the story.
Quickly, name three Deadspin writers? Name 5 SB Nation writers? Name 10 Bleacher Report writers?
You see my point.
People may dislike ESPN’s brand of journalism, but who are the most popular personalities at ESPN? The ones who are most like WWE characters. The analogy I like to use is if ESPN was boxing, they would be Floyd Mayweather, Fox Sports 1 would be Canelo Alvarez. Numbers don’t lie (RIP Hugh) and the fact is Whitlock is an asset for ESPN, just by taking him away from Fox Sports.
It’s a win for ESPN in this new battle against Fox Sports even if it means more skipitizing of the media.