Lost In Translation

As evidenced by sheer volume of comments to the various posts about all the changes in Toronto sports media, it’s pretty easy to see that people care deeply about this stuff.  Whether it’s the change in personnel from one outlet to another, the possibility of a new entrant to the marketplace or just simply daily lineups, people are passionate about sports media.

Over the last several months, we have seen change in all facets of the business.  Radio, TV, newspapers have all been subject to rumour, fact and innuendo.  Both MSMers on the beat (full time or otherwise), Bruce Dowbiggin and Chris Zelkovitch, have both written about the implications of the changes.  Both, however, have failed to focus on the big picture, the internet.

Don’t get me wrong.  Radio, print and television matter.  I am a fan of sports radio, perhaps more so than most.  I am one of the few who still pays to receive multiple Toronto newspapers every day. I don’t really care who carries the games that I watch, as long as I get to see them, and only an idiot wouldn’t recognize the importance of TV as a medium.

Having said that, if you don’t think much of the battle going on right now between Rogers, CTV/TSN and to a lesser degree, the CBC, is about websites and web traffic then you’re missing the big picture, too.

While I don’t know this for fact, but several media insiders tell me one of the main reasons Damien Cox is not working for TSN is that they wanted Damien to write for tsn.ca.  

In terms of web traffic, measured by Comscore, tsn.ca has slipped below Yahoo! Do you think Keith Pelley is happy with the fact that sportsnet.ca doesn’t even make the top 10?  As for CBC, well, why do you think that they have only now registered with Comscore for their sports content?

Ask yourself this, when sports news breaks, where do you immediately turn for information?  Remove several of the fantastic blogs out there.  Where in the mainstream do you look for either validity or opinion?  Personally, the last two websites that I turn to are tsn.ca and sportsnet.ca.  (I have never looked at the cbc.ca family of sites.) In terms of online Canadian sources, the Star, Yahoo!, Globe, Post and Sun are my staples.  

I have to believe that so much of the focus in the boardrooms of all the major players is online, yet, that is the medium rarely discussed.  Cox’s change of heart to remain at the Star while picking up radio and TV duties at Sportsnet is an anomaly.  I am convinced that as the other dominoes fall, the focus should be as much on the online side as opposed to just looking on air.

More later and then on to Boston for the night



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The Meatriarchy
January 24, 2011 11:01 am

If sportsnet and TSN want to up their readership they can start buy redesigning their cluttered, ugly websites. They try to cram way too much on the front page and then when you are looking for something specific it is impossible to find.

Case in point during the WJC try finding the rosters of the other teams (not Canada’s) and who holds their draft rights, who is undrafted etc.

AS for breaking news when I heard the Blue Jays had made a trade on Friday none of the major sites had a hint that it was Wells going the other way.

Twitter was waaay out in front on that one.

January 24, 2011 11:25 am

I just commented on your previous posting about my thoughts of TSN adopting the ESPN model for their radio stations. All information and content that I referred to was accessed on-line. As I type this, I am listening to WMVP 1000 from Chicago, but if I become too depressed listening to the Bears post mortem (life-long Bears fan…Packers, grrrrrr), I can easily listen live to another ESPN local affiliates’ content, or I can switch to ESPN’s national offering “The Herd”. This makes it easier on each local station in terms of hiring staff at each station. I love how easy it is to “rewind” the live radio feed to replay a segment that just played, and with one click (no drag) you get back instantly to the live feed.

My apologies if this info is well known or assumed by others who visit this site, as I just had the opportunity to explore the ESPN on-line offerings for the first time over the past couple of days. One comment is that ESPN could tweak their radio station websites slightly in order to improve site navigation between the local and national content.

January 24, 2011 11:26 am

I agree – Twitter is the way to go to find out about breaking sports news. An interesting question, though, is who does one follow to get such news? I tend towards feeds that don’t update too often but have the big news and some decent analysis without overdoing it. A mix of Canadian and American-based feeds.

I have a few favourites although CBC’s Friedman is at or close to the top. I stopped following Brady because while he can be entertaining, WAY too many tweets. Arthur I keep because while at times annoying he links to a lot of good stuff, sports and non-sports. I stay away from TSN because they tweet far too much about junior hockey.

If one is to assume that Twitter is where most people start for news, should an individual host/analysts/reporters feed be “owned” by the individual or the employer? How much personal stuff should be on there?

Also, should a network or an entity offer three or four feeds based on how detailed the feed is?
Although a very interesting question that I’m thinking about now is – if you are a reporter/ana

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
January 24, 2011 2:55 pm

if you’re going to talk websites then the FAN has to be mentioned as severely lagging behind. there was no update on the main page about the VW trade over the weekend at all. that’s pathetic. it’s not a top destination and given that they are the only sports radio station in town, that’s bad. they should be updating their website all day.

also, in typical rogers fashion, their iPhone app only works on Rogers iPhones, and won’t work at all on the iPod touch. mobile apps are becoming a great way to keep up with the local teams (see the WEEI app) and the FAN’s offering is pretty woeful.

as far as other sites go, i’ve never been to snet’s website and i agree that TSN’s is not very well laid out. i check globesports and the Star often, but i rely mostly on blogs and fansites for discussion and analysis.

The Meatriarchy
January 24, 2011 3:57 pm

Mike (in Boston) you are right about the Fan Website but then most sports radio websites are pretty awful.

Tommy D.
Tommy D.
January 24, 2011 5:01 pm

Hey Mike (in Boston)..I too was annoyed that Rogers restricted their radio app to Rogers iPhones as I have an iPod Touch. Now it seems they have had a change of heart. I downloaded it again recently and it works on my iPod Touch.

Mike S
Mike S
January 24, 2011 5:22 pm

I like the Yahoo Sports website a lot………….I also go to the TSN website a fair amount…………I almost never go to the Sportsnet website.

Hey Sam………..do you really think that Brady posts too many things on Twitter?…………..then you must really like Arthur’s thoughts & links because he often posts more in one week than Brady does in a month………….in my opinion they are two of the more entertaining people on Twitter

January 24, 2011 7:01 pm

Mike S – I’ll give Brady another try. Arthur sometimes gets totally out of hand with conversations that should not be on Twitter, IMO.

January 24, 2011 7:09 pm

I have to agree that Twitter is the only place to be if you want to stay up on all breaking news.
As for Brady and Arthur..I have stopped following both….Way to many tweets for me…It was entertaining at 1st …Not so much now!!
I wonder if tweeting is just encouraged by employers or are they told to tweet a certain amount a day?

Pat MaGroin
Pat MaGroin
January 24, 2011 7:37 pm

Question ??
Is the Sportsnet and TheFan websites run by the same person In-charge?
If so, He/She should be in search of other employment .

Chris F.
Chris F.
January 24, 2011 8:59 pm

I don’t have much to say about the topic here but The Fan has a youtube account where Paul Jones and Eric Smith do a vlog before and after every road Raptors game, some Argos stuff too and lately some coverage of the whole Hamilton situation.

You wouldn’t know this if you went on the Fan site though….This is something that needs to be expanded upon and made known to more people. Also the Barb’s World online segment is on the site as well but it’s so buried that again, you’d be hard pressed to find it if you weren’t looking for it.

These are the kind of things that NEED to be made plain to visitors of the site.

As for sports news I usually get my news from ESPN.Com.

January 24, 2011 9:09 pm

ESPN, SI and Yahoo Sports are the three best non sportsblog/twitter sites for up to the minute news and scores. I never even think about going to the Canadian sites, they just seem too clustered and not important enough to read.

January 24, 2011 9:16 pm

Brady is joining Krystal this week…You would think they would make mention of it on the website?

I never tune in…If it was not for twitter and TSM retweet i never would have known!…They really need some help with the website!!

January 24, 2011 10:30 pm

If you think espn.com and espn3.com (streaming of live games —– with massive game content available for euro soccer and college football that you can’t get on TV) are light years ahead of the Canadian websites, then I’d shudder to think what you guys would think of how ppl get their sports in east Asia.

S. Korea, Japan, etc we’re talking fully integrated live sports through your phone. Not a niche, full out mainstream way of content delivery. Then you look at tsn.ca and sportsnet.ca and you’d think they were built on leftover code from 1996 when a bunch of high school kids were building their own website using geocities.com

How sad is it that TheScore has the best (by far) sports App for mobile in Canada?

January 25, 2011 6:32 am

Some excellent points raised. Keith Pelley is a breath of fresh air to the business because he gets it in terms of Internet. He will plough money into the RSN site and the FAN site. It was under his watch that TSN started to transition to spending money on their site. They were, at the time, miles ahead of RSN, CBC sports and other outlets. The big reason many of the sites are lousy is because of the mentality of most big media companies in Canada – particularly in the radio biz – spend as little as possible. The FAN, as the top sports station in Canada, should have 10 or 12 people working on NOTHING but the site. I’ll bet they have more like 3 or 4 people (if that). They follow the classic Canadian radio model – pay loads of money to the morning drive guy and the afternoon drive guy; everyone and everything else (like the web site) is done on the cheap.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x