For a while now, the common wisdom in sports television has been that smartphone-clutching viewers no longer need highlight shows, as they have highlights on demand in their pockets at all times. This has led to the rise in discussion and debate-centric shows ,and a decline in shows in the traditional SportsCenter model.

CBS CEO Les Moonves is apparently looking zig while other zag. CBS plans to launch a news-focused 24/7 digital sports service, and on Thursday he took some shots at ESPN for prioritizing banter over scores and highlights.

Moonves is right that when you turn on ESPN in 2017, you’re less likely to see scores and highlights than you were 20 years ago (though the ticker at the bottom of the screen is still a thing), but the question is whether the network has good reason for the change in approach. While older generations of sports fans might lament that ESPN has deviated from news, younger consumers who spend all day on social media see no reason to turn on the physical TV to get information that’s already in their palms. Fans can get scores anywhere. They can, theoretically, only get debate and personality on TV.

So although there has certainly been a backlash to the histrionic arguing of certain ESPN programs, that doesn’t necessarily mean a 2002-style highlight show would be a better investment.

Are there enough fans out there like Moonves who want scores and highlights from their sports network to make a 24/7 channel work? Are those fans the types to use over-the-top streaming services? CBS seems intent on finding out.

Meanwhile, moments before this post was set to publish, ESPN PR clapped back hard at Moonves, tweeting a video noting that the network provides news and scores across many platforms and comparing its digital audience to that of CBS.

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports,, and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.