The “embrace debate” ethos that drives much of sports television, nationally and now locally, is headed to CSN New England.
The network announced Thursday a new show called “Boston Sports Tonight” that will offer “comprehensive, in-depth and unfiltered coverage of New England sports,” according to a press release. It will air form 9 p.m. to midnight on weeknights and will be hosted by CSN’s Tom Curran and Tom Giles, along with WEEI’s Michael Holley and Kayce Smith. Holley is likely the name most recognizable to a national audience, as he sometimes appeared on “Around the Horn” in that show’s early days.
The show won’t debut until April 3, so it’ll be a while before we know exactly what it’s is about, but we’ve got some clues it’ll tend in the debate-heavy direction.
“We pride ourselves on providing Boston sports fans with the best coverage of their teams in the most informative, interesting and unfiltered way possible,” said Princell Hair, SVP and General Manager, CSN New England. “With our new programming line-up we will ensure that we continue to give the fans what they want, when they want it.”
CSN New England also announced another programming change that more transparently shifts the network toward debate, with the expansion of “Arbella Early Edition” to two hours, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on weeknights. The show, according to the CSN press release, “will combine hot takes and opinion, with heavy debate from hosts and guests and will offer an unfiltered look at the best Boston sports topics of the day.”
Many people like to complain about sports media’s turn toward loud debate shows, but there’s a reason they’ve become so popular. They’re cheap and easy to produce, they consistently get solid ratings and they help grow the brands of the talking heads who appear on them. Would the sports media landscape be better served if CSN invested in an investigative journalism show? Maybe, but that would cost a lot and not necessarily draw better ratings than four people in a studio arguing about Gronk.
Especially in Boston, where sports radio is a way of life and Deflategate became a veritable cottage industry, debate sells. You can’t blame CSN new England for diving deeper into that game.