One of the stories you hate seeing in any industry is the loss of jobs at Christmastime. And the axe came Thursday for two Comcast SprotsNet New England reporters, Bob Neuemeier who is known nationally for his horse racing expertise and long-time Red Sox beat writer Sean McAdam.
Comcast SportsNet New England is making a transition of its studio shows from a news-based operation to more discussion and debate. And that reflects what has happened to other CSNs around the country like in Chicago and in Philadelphia. Rather than air highlights, CSN Chicago and CSN Philadelphia are looking to embrace debate and produce podcasts in an attempt to attract younger sports fans and shift to a more mobile generation. In addition, CSN Chicago has already laid off staff to prepare for that transition.
The cutting of Neumeier and McAdam at CSN New England has it seemingly on the same track as the other CSNs. Chad Finn of the Boston Globe says eventually, the network’s signature studio show will be changing format:
There is a strong belief with the CSN staff that this will have a major effect on its own programming. “SportsNet Central” — that show Neumeier and McAdam were just on — is not expected to survive much longer in its current form as the network shifts away from featuring a news/highlights program.
The staff was told Thursday that much of the programming in March will be infomercials and reruns of staff-produced documentaries (such as the recent one on the 1986 Celtics) as new shows get a “test drive.” Those shows will be opinion-driven, not information- and highlight-driven.
Neumeier has filled many roles in Boston as a sports anchor/reporter at WBZ-TV, a sports radio host at WEEI as well as a one-season stint as the Voice of the NHL’s Bruins. He joined CSNNE in 2010 and suffered a stroke in 2014 making an amazing recovery enabling him to return to the air last year.
McAdam has covered the Boston Red Sox for the Providence Journal and Boston Herald before going to CSNNE to write for its website and report on TV. According to the Globe, CSN had cut McAdam’s road trips to cover the team in half and it was expected to be reduced even further for next season. As the media scene changes in Boston, McAdam realizes that his career as a Red Sox reporter may be coming to an end:
“It’s scary to think what I’ve been doing for 27 years — covering the Red Sox — has probably come to an end,’’ said McAdam. “But that’s the reality of the industry right now.”
Comcast SportsNet issued the usual terse statement when someone is let go:
“We would like to thank both Bob and Sean for their years of service at CSN and we wish them all the best in their future endeavors.”
Back in 2009, Comcast SportsNet New England hired several reporters and anchors to build a very strong staff. And it also brought in several writers with newspaper backgrounds for its website. But it appears that CSN is changing with the times. And that means more personality-driven programming with hot takes and debate. Whether this works with the viewers is the million dollar question.
It’s going to be an interesting transition for the Comcast SportsNet affiliates.