Earlier this week, SI.com’s Richard Deitsch released a list of the 10 most powerful people in sports media. The list has caused plenty of discussion and debate in the industry, but there are a few takeaways from the list worth considering. Here's five of them…
1) First of all, the number of ESPNers on this list, including Bill Simmons at the top, solidifies that they are still the World Wide Leader in terms of power. Say what you want about the incessant Tebow and LeBron coverage, but ESPN is still our primary go-to for news and analysis. They hold a monopoly over the minds of sports fans even with the existence of Yahoo, NBC, CBS, and Fox. While those companies have their audiences and their niches, none is as wide-reaching and powerful as ESPN, which is why it should be no surprise to see Bristolites make up half the list.
2) I LOVE that Deadspin’s Tommy Craggs made the list. We are finally seeing more traditional outlets giving Deadspin credibility, especially after the site broke the Te’o hoax, and that shows how far they have come as a site and how sports blogs in general have come. It's no more blogs vs mainstream media as blogs have become mainstream themselves.
3) It is important to realize this is not a popularity contest – if it were, Erin Andrews and Michelle Beadle and Gus Johnson would be on, and Skip Bayless would be off – rather a look at who has pull, whose opinions carry the most weight, who has access to the big wigs. Chris Berman has a direct line to the suits that matter – as much as you might hate hearing “BACK, BACK, BACK, BACK,” once a year, he still isn't going anywhere. In fact, Berman and Bayless are only getting more airtime instead of less. Power certainly doesn't equal popularity.
4) Lost in the shuffle, however is CBS. There is not a single person from CBS in the top 10 as Jim Nantz comes in at #11. Why is that? What do they do that keeps them off? To me, CBS will always be the home of March Madness. The network has a solid group of writers and analysts online, but none that really captivate a huge audience online. In between Fox launching a new network and NBC rebranding itself, CBS has slipped off the radar and it could be their fledgling cable network that's the reason they slip from view. CBS Sports doesn't really have a 24/7 presence that ESPN, Fox, and NBC do. Their 24/7 cable channel makes NBC Sports Network look as powerful as ESPN.
5) If you asked ten different people for the same list, you would get 12 different answers. However, there are a few folks like Simmons and Costas and Barkley I'm sure most would agree on. If you looked at the most powerful people in sports media in 5 years, Simmons will probably be at or near the top again with the success of Grantland, his podcast, and his huge online following. Established figures like Costas and Barkley and Berman will still be on the list as well if they're all still employed.
But what about the changes that could happen? Could a new Deadspin rise up and challenge the establishment even further? Will more bloggers make an appearance and continue to rise in relevance? If Fox Sports 1 works, will we see Jay Glazer rise in power and influence or maybe even a network host or cable sports personality nobody has even heard of yet? This list will never be the same twice, so it'll be interesting to see how it changes in the years ahead.