Media Talk: Bob Ley on ‘First Take?’; Is Charles Barkley untouchable? ESPN loves Derek Jeter
SI.com's Richard Deitsch and Jimmy Traina will periodically discuss a variety of media topics over Slack and then share their conversation with you. The two talked about Charles Barkley's love for the NHL playoffs, ESPN's Derek Jeter coverage, the over-the-top hate for SportsCenter's The Six and more on Friday afternoon. Take a look and the unedited transcript.
Traina [12:37 PM]
Deitsch [12:38 PM]
Traina [12:38 PM]
We need to Slack for the people.
Deitsch [12:39 PM]
I'm not sure I see people protesting in the streets demanding this but okay.
Traina [12:40 PM]
You never know.
But I need to start with something you may not like.
The other day, I was sitting at my desk and I saw you walk by. You looked up at one of the TV monitors and you saw Bob Ley and Jeremy Schaap HOSTING your favorite show, First Take. I think you grunted or moaned and you looked like your dog just died. Is that a fair analysis of what I saw?
Deitsch [12:44 PM]
It's a little overstated. I'm not sure I grunted AND moaned. But it was a little bumming. I do get it, though. You want to use any show you can promote stuff but that was still a tough image. Like seeing Ewing in an Orlando Magic jersey.
Traina [12:45 PM]
What do you think Bob Ley’s reaction is when ESPN tell him they’d like him to guest host First Take? Do you think he’s just like, “OK, fine.” Or do you think he vomits into a garbage can after the executive leaves his office?
Deitsch [12:49 PM]
I know Bob for a long time and his goal is to promote and protect the OTL brand. I imagine he likes those guys away from the B.S. circus. I'm sure he's just thinking, “Let me use the time slot to try to get some viewers.” Smith, Kellerman etc… are not going to put him in a bad spot out of respect. Stephen A. will save his threats for Kevin Durant during another segment.
Traina [12:50 PM]
Don’t forget the accusations that James Harden looked “drugged” last night.
Deitsch [12:51 PM]
I didn't see that one. Did that happen?
Traina [12:51 PM]
Yes, please keep up on all Stephen A. Smith news.
Charles Barkley said on TNT that he was grateful for the NHL playoffs because the NBA playoffs have been boring. He also went on the NHL Network to praise the NHL playoffs. Do you think TNT cares at all?
Deitsch [12:52 PM]
I don't think TNT executives care one iota.
Traina [12:53 PM]
Totally separate from that: Is Barkley the most untouchable person in sports television?
Deitsch [12:53 PM]
He's up there. Longterm deal, beloved by the execs, a game-changer on air, and enough F-U money to tell his bosses to F-OFF if ever needed to. So, he might be.
Traina [12:55 PM]
Yeah, I don’t think it’s a big deal. But there’s not many instances where a studio host can brag on air about watching another network and sport while he’s supposed to be watching his own network and sport. But it’s a good pop for the NHL, I guess.
Deitsch [12:56 PM]
They pay Charles to be Charles, and this is all part of it. The NHL playoffs have been better than the NBA playoffs so far. I do think that changes come the finals. Going to be rough for NBC if it's Ottawa-Anaheim.
Traina [12:58 PM]
That would not be a bonanza.
Do think ESPN will get back in the NHL business any time in the near future?
Deitsch [12:59 PM]
Not in any kind of serious capacity. You don't cut the information people they did with an eye toward being serious about NHL coverage.
Traina [12:59 PM]
True. They’re certainly not sparing an expense with their Derek Jeter coverage this week.
Deitsch [1:00 PM]
You should love that.
Traina [1:00 PM]
I’m the biggest Derek Jeter fan on earth, but I can’t be how ridiculous this has all been.
Deitsch [1:00 PM]
ESPN should change its letters to YES.
Traina [1:00 PM]
They sent like a 10,000 word press release yesterday on their Jeter plans for the weekend. I’m sure America will be riveted.
Deitsch [1:02 PM]
That's a short press release for ESPN PR.
Traina [1:02 PM]
You and your ESPN snark…
That tweet you had Sunday about the Sports Reporters was quite salty
Deitsch [1:02 PM]
I did love and respect John Saunders and Dick Schaap.
Traina [1:03 PM]
Did you hear privately from ESPN about you calling some of the Sports Reporters hosts a–holes?
Deitsch [1:04 PM]
I'll say this: There was one well known ESPN-er who reached out in agreement saying it can be dangerous to get to know your idols.
I know how much you love some of our writers so this doesn't apply to you…..
Traina [1:06 PM]
Fake stirring of the pot. There were only 2 SI writers who I had problems with and both have been gone for a long time.
Deitsch [1:08 PM]
This is a Conway spin job by an ex-Fox guy
Traina [1:10 PM]
Traina [1:11 PM]
Last thing I want to discuss. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention all along, but in the past couple of weeks, I guess off the ESPN layoffs, I was stunned and shocked at the absolute venom for Jemele Hill, Michael Smith and The 6.
I was really taken aback by it. First off, I can’t imagine getting so worked up about a TV show. Second, I know people who spew venom on Twitter aren’t exactly rocket scientists, but to make a correlation between ESPN pushing The 6 or whatever it’s called and the ESPN layoffs is absurd. Is ESPN aware of this venom and do they care at all that so many people seem angered by this show for some reason?
Deitsch [1:21 PM]
They are well aware of this, as are the hosts. This is just anecdotal and only relates to me but in my entire time on Twitter, I don't remember ever being asked for the ratings of the 6PM SportsCenter hosted by Lindsay Czarniak. There are now few days that go by where someone isn't asking for the ratings of SC6 and asking with the clear hopes that they are down. You might not like Hill and Smith but they have zero to do with ESPN's layoffs and overall financial issues. As I've written and said numerous times on numerous pods including with you, they also have no chance to increase the ratings in their time slot on linear television. Viewership habits have changed regarding all SportsCenters and they are also going to be crushed by cable news in the era of Trump
Traina [1:24 PM]
You hit on something key there. I guess the reason I was so shocked by the animosity toward Hill and Smith is that I never knew so many people cares about the 6pm edition of SportsCenter. I’ve heard from many people recently that they hate the fact SportsCenter has gone away from showing highlights. But you can make that argument for the morning edition. You can’t make that argument for the PM edition.
But I think I can easily figure out why these people are so “concerned” about The Six.
Deitsch [1:26 PM]
We can continue this conversation on the podcast next week. It will be you and John Ourand of Sports Business Daily.
Traina [1:26 PM]
Don’t plug your stuff here. Bush league.
Deitsch [1:27 PM]
I just plugged you. But now I'll plug your replacement.
Traina [1:28 PM]
The day started with Trump threatening Comey and now this.
Deitsch [1:28 PM]
Day is still young too.
Traina [1:28 PM]
Deitsch [1:29 PM]