August 14, 2006
Brand Naming: ABC Sports to become known as ESPN on ABC
The two brands have been linked for years and enjoyed many cross-branding services but now they have “moved the ball forward," according to George Bodenheimer, President, ESPN, Inc. and ABC Sports and Co-Chairman, Disney Media Networks.
Starting Sept. 2, the kick-off of the college football season, ABC will start to look a lot more like ESPN, taking on its graphics, sets and sharing a logo with its cable TV partner.
Already joined at the hip (ESPN staffers routinely call ABC “ESPN South” or “ESPN 3”) and sharing sports packages and PR resources, this move simply leverages the now much stronger and much more visible ESPN brand name to an audience who is used to its blanket, 24/7 sports coverage.
I find it hard to say goodbye to the stand-alone brand that brought us “Monday Night Football” (with the legendary Jim McKay and Howard Cosell) but as former CBS Sports president Neal Pilson has pointed out, this is the reality of TV sports today and ESPN’s offering is just too wide to permit an island brand like ABC.
As one younger blogger wrote: it's "a change of name but not much else", and Monday Night Football clips are for "older people."
One “older” blogger said that this was like the “death of an old friend," lamenting the demise of the 45 year-old brand name created by ABC Sports' former president and driving force Roone Arledge who created "ABC's Wide World of Sports," which brought us such industry standards as the instant replay, on-screen graphics and investigative journalism in sports.
But after a series of bad decisions in the 80s ABC had cooked its goose and even those mourning ABC give credit to ESPN: great coverage, great journalism, production work, sports direction, broadcasters and analysts add up to one big slam dunk for sports lovers. RIP ABC.
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