Viewers to Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia may have noticed some changes to its daily schedule. It’s nightly news program, SportsNet Central had its early edition canceled in favor of an Eagles-focused program, Quick Slants. The late edition of SportsNet Central has reduced its reliance on highlights and has increased the amount discussion and debate segments. In addition, a segment called “Three and Out” which has three personalities debating a certain topic has been unveiled to viewers.
It’s a trend that began nationally with ESPN and then FS1, showing more of a dependence on debate programs and reducing highlights. While FS1 has eliminated highlights altogether, ESPN still has SportsCenter.
CSN Philly has rights to the Phillies, 76ers and Flyers, but the network realizes that when live games are not aired, they need to hook viewers to watch its other programming. This is where the debate and discussion programs come in.
According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, it’s an attempt to keep up with the times and attract millennials to the network. CSN Philly executive Brian Monahan says it’s part of evolving the channel and staying current:
“Viewers are not just watching on TV but on mobile phones and IPads. And they’re not necessarily looking for highlights. If they want scores, they don’t want to have to wait for them. They can just look on their phones and get that immediately.
“Our programming is now more about discussion. Our hosts are not individual experts but they have the ability to express their opinions. And we have seen our hosts raise their presence on social media. They are expanding their reach on all platforms.”
And Moynihan says he wants program hosts to be multi-faceted, not only being on TV, but also maintaining podcasts and being able to discuss multiple topics.
The Philly-centric Crossing Broad site notes that a number of CSN personalities have been let go due to cost-cutting as reporting and highlights are going by the wayside. But as the dependence on debate and discussion increases, it also reduces other programming. Crossing Broad pointed out that CSN Philadelphia cut away from Ryan Howard’s ceremony during his final game with the Phillies and instead went to the studio for more discussion.
Whether Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia can pull off the transition to debate will be determined by the ratings and whether millennials will watch. Right now, it appears the transition is not going smoothly. The fact that cord cuttting is affecting not just CSN Philly, but other networks like ESPN, there are fears that the networks are losing traction with viewers.
Right now, TV networks are treading water with viewers and losing audience. Whether debate and social media can stem the tide or the cord cutting trend will continue is the million dollar question for networks like CSN Philly.