- (Photo: Reuters/Tim Shaffer)
Tim Tebow, New York Jets backup QB, may have his airtime on ESPN diminished, according to the network's president.
Tebow, 25-year-old evangelical Christian, gained popularity in the NFL when he took over the Denver Nuggets starting position during the 2011-2012 season. However, ESPN president John Skipper recently told Sports Business Journal that his staff may have spent too much time chasing after Tebow stories once he moved to the Jets at the end of last season.
"I said, 'Guys, we didn't handle this very well.' Going to training camp wasn't a problem," Skipper told SBJ in a recent interview. "We just stayed on it relentlessly and too long."
Skipper said he was forced to come to grips with how much his network was covering Tebow when Doug Gottlieb, a former ESPN analyst, took to the syndicated radio and television program, "The Dan Patrick Show", to reveal that he was forced to cover Tebow.
"I was told specifically, 'You can't talk enough Tebow.' I would jokingly throw it into a segment. 'I gotta find 15 seconds here to talk about Tebow, all right let's move on and talk about Major League Baseball,'" Gottlieb admitted on the sports program last October. "Is it ridiculous how much you have to talk about Tebow? Yeah. But for whatever reason people can't get enough of that story, and they kind of stoke the fire – that's kind of what ESPN does."
For Skipper, Gottlieb's comments made him think twice about such heavy network coverage of a backup QB with limited playing time.
"The quote that I hated was from Doug Gottlieb. ... I didn't love that," Skipper admitted to SBJ. "I want people to think about what works for the next 10 minutes might not be the best thing for us for three years. That one hit home with me."
Now, Skipper says his network is working to change the way it approaches Tebow coverage.
"We've had some good discussions internally about trying to be careful. In some ways, the more difficult internal conflict is between long-term storytelling and ratings. We all know that if you focus on the Tebow story, for the next 10 minutes you're going to do better," Skipper told SPJ. "But the question is trying to take a long-term perspective and saying, 'Guys, let's not get over excited about one story and hyping it.'"