Sports networks are going to talk about the sports they cover on their studio shows. Call it cross-promotion, call it “network synergy,” call it whatever you like. NBCSN isn’t going to give you an hour breaking down the Little League World Series. ESPN sacrificed NHL Tonight a long, long, loooooong time ago. And FS1 isn’t interested in making the EPL part of their soccer talk. This is true across the television spectrum, it’s just how the industry works. Sports networks are going to protect their own, at least the ones they’re paying millions and millions of dollars to in order to televise.
And far be it from us to call out Skip Bayless for something relatively innocuous in the grand scheme of things, but with the above in mind we just had to chuckle and point out this less-than-transparent attempt at selling the Fox Sports company line.
Last weekend, Bayless just so happened to attend his first UFC show and is now suddenly “all-in” with the sport. That’s probably a good thing, because my guess is FS1 will want him to talk glowingly about UFC on his new debate show with Shannon Sharpe.
As a longtime hardcore boxing fan, starting w/ Ali Era, I've been leery of UFC. But after my 1st live event last night, I'm now all-in.
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) August 21, 2016
What a coincidence that after years of not caring much about the UFC at all, Bayless is now one of the sport’s biggest fans after moving to the network that televises it. Just how much of a 180 is this unexpected change of heart? Before last week, Bayless had tweeted the word “UFC” just twice. Twice! Here’s his last UFC tweet from seven years ago.
Still have suspicions about UFC, and Brock Lesnar only added to 'em. Went straight wrestling villain. Felt staged. Proceed at own risk.
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) July 13, 2009
But hey, since we all know authenticity is Skip Bayless’ number one trait as a television personality, this new UFC fandom must be a true sentiment and not one generated because FS1 is paying him millions and millions of dollars to say so.
The less-than-transparent cross-promotion continued on the Fox Sports website. See if you can follow along with me on this one – Fox Sports wrote a story about Skip Bayless seeing Mike Tyson take Kanye West’s seat at UFC 202. And not only is this promotion for Skip Bayless, it’s promotion for TMZ Sports… also airing on FS1!
Isn’t there a more subtle way Fox can do this? Probably not – subtlety isn’t exactly Fox’s strong-suit.
ESPN has mastered the echo chamber over the years, where they try turn their own analyst’s thoughts or actions into actual stories that can repeat through the ESPN news cycle. This is our first good look at the FS1 echo chamber… and it involves Skip Bayless and TMZ.