Thursday, October 21, 2010

Is a Women Only Sports Channel a Good Idea?

You might have noticed that I get a bit irritated with the lack of coverage for sports women in the mainstream media? Well, it looks like ESPN has met some other frustrated athletes. They are giving us espnW in the new year. Not a network but a blog and other digital media although so far it's just a FB and Twitter page. 

Bloggers seem generally positive. Megan Hueter, a Women Talk Sports blogger   posted this: "I think it’s safe to say that, at the very heart of this new business is the mission to serve current and former female athletes… a uniquely different audience, one that’s been struggling for public attention for 38 years."  She's talking about the progress/lack of progress (depending on your view) in promoting American women in sport since Title IX. Read about Title IX here.

But on the Mister Women's Sports blog, we get: " What I am confused about, even after reading the opening remarks from the recent espnW retreat, is why ESPN is committing to the creation of a blog rather than bringing more gender equity to their current array of cable channels."

I'm curious to see what they will actually do. It could be an opportunity for women to gain exposure, new fans and sponsorship. Or it could become a backwater used to sideline women's sport or deepen the divide between so-called real sport and girls just messing around.

What do you think - a great idea or are we moving backwards?

6 comments:

Emmet Ryan said...

It's definitely a step forward. The argument gender equity really doesn't hold weight because ESPN are making these decisions for commercial reasons. That's why they have developed ESPN U into a special channel for people who will watch any kind of college sport.

ESPN, ESPN 2 and ESPN.com will remain focussed on male sports until there are commercial reasons to do otherwise but if programming or content on espnW (it will start out as a wholly web entity I think) gets an audience then ESPN will have a reason to push it more on their mainstream channels.

Believe it or not they WANT more female viewers, they are looking for the best way to grow total interest in their products. Shunting stuff out from their high profile sections to make room for this project would be insane as it could hurt their connection with existing users (not all men by the way) and not achieving net growth. This is a more managed approach.

niamh said...

I suppose we'll just have to wait and see how it develops - especially how it affects their existing coverage of women's sport. Hopefully it will be positive and not fragment the coverage.

a runners' life said...

I'm not sure having a women's only sport channel is a good idea. Neither is having an all male sports channel. Balancing between the two would be a better idea, but since sport is male dominated arena that will be difficult.

I would be interested to see what type of impact such a channel might have though.

niamh said...

Thanks for dropping by! It will be interesting to see if they develop it from a blog to a full network. Part of me thinks it will be fun, part of me is cyncial. Going over to check out your blog now...

carine said...

Tricky one! It can be useful and I love reading about women with balls in this blog.A women only sports channel could therefore be very interesting as well ... However I've always been in favour of promoting mixity of any kind and I think there should be more mixed gender team sports as well as women's only sports in life as well in the media ... I remember a while ago Zinedine Zidane was being interviewed about his son and rather he would be happy for him to be a professional footballer or not ...he said he would love his son and Ronaldo's daughter who was the same age to play in the same professional team ... and I found that pretty inspiring but maybe it's another topic ...

niamh said...

Mixity - love it! That is an interesting topic, there are very few sports where we do compete directly against each other. You would imagine that soccer, being non-contact, would be a good place for mixed teams but that seems to be confined to school teams so far. Definitely a blog-post This post looked at it from a runner's point of view:
http://niamhgriffin.blogspot.com/2010/08/can-women-compete-with-men.html

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