Why Does ESPN Charge Money?

I see/hear lots of anger about having to pay for Insider or ESPN3 (formerly ESPN360). I thought these articles by ESPN’s Ombudsman Don Ohlmeyer has a great explanation why content companies charge money.

Take on Insider

Summary: Insider is premium content, NOT copy-and-paste articles from the Associated Press or Reuters like many headlines or blog posts. There are dedicated researchers that do lots of statistical analysis or have inside contacts for rumors. You likely won’t find something similar on the Internet for free. Fantasy players, gamblers, and obsessive fans care about so much for this overanalysis that they would be willing to pay. If you are upset that you need to pay for the article, I challenge you to find/Google the same research for free.

There’s an unending litany of Web sites — advertising can’t possibly support them all. If these services are to exist, at some point users are going to have to cover a portion of the costs. The irony, of course, is that users don’t get their content free now. Advertising is based on the audience buying products they need, want or just crave. Incorporated in the cost of almost every item consumers purchase is a charge that can be siphoned off for advertising. So, consumers already are paying for those TV programs, radio shows, print sources and Web sites that they might think they’re getting for free.

Broadcast television has always been thought of as free TV. It had one revenue stream — advertising. But in the 1980s, premium channels began charging for programming the viewer could not see elsewhere. There was resistance at first, but as the quality and originality of the programming increased, people adjusted to subscriber fees. They may not like to pay, but they wouldn’t if they didn’t feel they were deriving significant value or pleasure.

Web content providers won’t succeed by simply relying on the old broadcast model. For ESPN, Insider is a foray into the premium market. Its readers will determine whether the content is truly proprietary or just more undifferentiated information. That perceived value will tell the story.

The premium-vs.-public debate

Take on ESPN3 (formerly ESPN360)

It costs a lot of money to get digital/online streaming rights from the leagues like MLB, NBA, FIFA, etc. You can’t pay for access directly. You need to get access through your ISP (e.g. Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, etc.) This business model is very similar to the way cable works. You don’t pay for ESPNU directly: you get it by subscribing to a provider that carries the channel, then you purchase a package that has the channel.

The mailbag has repeatedly received complaints from viewers who can’t access live game coverage on ESPN’s broadband network, ESPN360.com, and don’t understand why. The service is an online network that features more than 3,500 live events a year as well as replays. It’s available via Internet service providers in 70 percent of U.S. homes that have broadband capability. It also can be accessed on most college campuses and military bases.

The cost for fans to access the service is included in payments to their ISPs, such as AT&T, Charter, Comcast, Cox and Verizon. ESPN is continuing to gain increased participation with ISPs around the country. (Talk to your local provider to see whether it’s available in your area.)

There were also questions about the ability to record or save ESPN360.com programs. For security, antipiracy and copyright reasons, you can’t burn a disc from an event on the service. Because video on demand is available for most events, even though you can’t record, you can still retrieve an event for later screening.

ESPN360.com access

Welch’s Fruit Snack Accident?

Update: My friend, Conrad, educated me on the fact that the fruit snack is a replica of the Manneken Pis (“Little man Pee” in Dutch), which is a landmark small bronze sculpture in Brussels, depicting a naked little boy urinating into a fountain’s basin. It was designed by Hiëronymus Duquesnoy the Elder and put in place in 1618 or 1619.

A normal Welch’s Fruit Snack (left) with the freak snack (right).

Normally, Welch’s Fruit Snacks are a great tasting and convenient snack made with real fruit and real fruit juices that are roughly shaped like fruits. However, in this package my girlfriend’s brother, George Kunath, discovered a piece that resembles a naked man. Someone over at Promotion in Motion (the maker of the snacks) has a lot of explaining to do. I mean these are snacks that have kindergarten kids as a target demographic.

10 Year Comparison – circa 1999

Dinner at TGI Fridays in Memphis

Dinner with my friends at TGI Fridays in Memphis on 10/13/1999

For 2010, I am going to compare my life when I was 15 in 1999 to my life right now. I’ll also sprinkle in details that happened in the last 10 years for context. There will be a part 2 to this post that will have more details about 2009.

I used to have longer hair…

Life & Family in 1999

I identified myself to strangers by saying I am a sophomore in high school at Memphis University School. I spent most of my time at my parents’ house, where I studied, ate, and slept. I was in the longest relationship of my life: a few months. I couldn’t drive yet, so my mom and older brother drove me places (even on dates, which is kinda weird). Sometimes my best friend Jamie drove me around in his Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer edition (remember those?). I was still playing football, but I quit that a year later. I ran track and field: 100m, 200m, high jump, long jump. I qualified for the State Championship in high jump and the 4x100m relay. The closest thing I had to a job was cutting grass, bucking hay, and painting.

My old bedroom. You can see my old Toshiba desktop w/15” CRT monitor and my GE 20” TV. And yes it was a mess like my current bedroom.

Technology in 1999

No one had an iPod because they weren’t invented yet (first released 10/23/2001). Few people had heard of MP3s or knew how to listen/use them. Napster did come out in 1999, but I downloaded my first MP3 (Marcy Playground’s Sex and Candy) before that on AOL. DVDs were new too. In December 1999, only 4 million households had DVD players in the US and Blockbuster hadn’t started renting DVDs yet. Most people were still using VCRs and watching tapes. I had my dad’s old Toshiba Infinia 7161 Desktop that had Windows 98, 166mhz Pentium processor, 2GB hard drive, 32MB of RAM, and 56kbps modem (that I upgraded myself from 33.6kbps). Note that most people were still on dial-up on AOL, which is about 214x slower than the 12mbit Comcast Broadband (cable modem) that I use now.

Random Thoughts from 25-35 year olds

I normally only get a smile or smirk from these forwarded emails, but I love these random thoughts because I’ve had all of them. I swear I had a conversation about the folding of fitted sheets last week.

  • More often than not, when someone is telling me a story all I can think about is that I can’t wait for them to finish so that I can tell my own story that’s not only better, but also more directly involves me.
  • Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you’re wrong.
  • I don’t understand the purpose of the line, “I don’t need to drink to have fun.” Great, no one does. But why start a fire with flint and sticks when they’ve invented the lighter?
  • Have you ever been walking down the street and realized that you’re going in the complete opposite direction of where you are supposed to be going? But instead of just turning a 180 and walking back in the direction from which you came, you have to first do something like check your watch or phone or make a grand arm gesture and mutter to yourself to ensure that no one in the surrounding area thinks you’re crazy by randomly switching directions on the sidewalk.
  • I totally take back all those times I didn’t want to nap when I was younger.
  • Is it just me, or are 80% of the people in the “people you may know” feature on Facebook people that I do know, but I deliberately choose not to be friends with?
  • Do you remember when you were a kid, playing Nintendo and it wouldn’t work? You take the cartridge out, blow in it and that would magically fix the problem. Every kid in America did that, but how did we all know how to fix the problem? There was no internet or message boards or FAQ’s. We just figured it out. Today’s kids are soft.
  • There is a great need for sarcasm font.
  • Sometimes, I’ll watch a movie that I watched when I was younger and suddenly realize I had no idea what the f was going on when I first saw it.
  • I think everyone has a movie that they love so much, it actually becomes stressful to watch it with other people. I’ll end up wasting 90 minutes shiftily glancing around to confirm that everyone’s laughing at the right parts, then making sure I laugh just a little bit harder (and a millisecond earlier) to prove that I’m still the only one who really, really gets it.
  • How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?
  • I wish Google Maps had an “Avoid Ghetto” routing option.
  • I would rather try to carry 10 plastic grocery bags in each hand than take 2 trips to bring my groceries in.
  • I think part of a best friend’s job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.
  • The only time I look forward to a red light is when I’m trying to finish a text.
  • A recent study has shown that playing beer pong contributes to the spread of mono and the flu. Yeah, if you suck at it.
  • LOL has gone from meaning, “laugh out loud” to “I have nothing else to say”.
  • I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.
  • Answering the same letter three times or more in a row on a Scantron test is absolutely petrifying.
  • Whenever someone says “I’m not book smart, but I’m street smart”, all I hear is “I’m not real smart, but I’m imaginary smart”.
  • How many times is it appropriate to say “What?”before you just nod and smile because you still didn’t hear what they said?
  • I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars teams up to prevent a dick from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers!
  • Every time I have to spell a word over the phone using ‘as in’ examples, I will undoubtedly draw a blank and sound like a complete idiot. Today I had to spell my boss’s last name to an attorney and said “Yes that’s G as in…(10 second lapse)..ummm…Goonies”
  • What would happen if I hired two private investigators to follow each other?
  • While driving yesterday I saw a banana peel in the road and instinctively swerved to avoid it…thanks Mario Kart.
  • MapQuest really needs to start their directions on #5. Pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.
  • Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.
  • I find it hard to believe there are actually people who get in the shower first and THEN turn on the water.
  • Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.
  • I would like to officially coin the phrase ‘catching the swine flu’ to be used as a way to make fun of a friend for hooking up with an overweight woman. Example: “Dave caught the swine flu last night.”
  • I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t at least kind of tired.
  • Bad decisions make good stories
  • Whenever I’m Facebook stalking someone and I find out that their profile is public I feel like a kid on Christmas morning who just got the Red Ryder BB gun that I always wanted. 546 pictures? Don’t mind if I do!
  • Is it just me or do high school girls get sluttier & sluttier every year?
  • If Carmen San Diego and Waldo ever got together, their offspring would probably just be completely invisible.
  • Why is it that during an ice-breaker, when the whole room has to go around and say their name and where they are from, I get so incredibly nervous? Like I know my name, I know where I’m from, this shouldn’t be a problem….
  • You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you’ve made up your mind that you just aren’t doing anything productive for the rest of the day.
  • Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after DVDs? I don’t want to have to restart my collection.
  • There’s no worse feeling than that millisecond you’re sure you are going to die after leaning your chair back a little too far.
  • I’m always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my document that I swear I did not make any changes to.
  • I hate being the one with the remote in a room full of people watching TV. There’s so much pressure. ‘I love this show, but will they judge me if I keep it on? I bet everyone is wishing we weren’t watching this. It’s only a matter of time before they all get up and leave the room. Will we still be friends after this?’
  • I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello? Dammit!), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voicemail. What’d you do after I didn’t answer? Drop the phone and run away?
  • I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.
  • When I meet a new girl, I’m terrified of mentioning something she hasn’t already told me but that I have learned from some light internet stalking.
  • I like all of the music in my iTunes, except when it’s on shuffle, then I like about one in every fifteen songs in my iTunes.
  • Why is a school zone 20 mph? That seems like the optimal cruising speed for pedophiles…
  • Sometimes I’ll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.
  • It should probably be called Unplanned Parenthood.
  • I keep some people’s phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.
  • Even if I knew your social security number, I wouldn’t know what do to with it.
  • Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, hitting the G-spot, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I’d bet my ass everyone can find and push the Snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time every time…
  • It really pisses me off when I want to read a story on CNN.com and the link takes me to a video instead of text.
  • I wonder if cops ever get pissed off at the fact that everyone they drive behind obeys the speed limit.
  • I think the freezer deserves a light as well.
  • I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lites than Kay.

NCAA Football 10

NCAA Football 10

Very, very similar to NCAA 09, but EA Sports brought back co-op gameplay, so you that you and a friend can play on the same team (like WR & QB or FB/HB)

Tino Delamerced | 2009 Spelling Bee

This year, I am rooting for Speller No. 200, Tino Delamerced.

Tino Delamerced Tino Delamerced
WCPO-TV Channel 9, Cincinnati, Ohio
Age 13, 7th grade
School: The Summit Country Day School
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio

A nationally ranked chess player, Tino was just a second grader when he beat a grandmaster during a simultaneous chess exhibition. He recently took home first place in the Cincinnati Scholastic Chess Series—in the high school division. Musically inclined, Tino plays clarinet and is an accomplished pianist. He regularly volunteers his time playing piano for the residents of a nursing home. His sister, Anna, tied for 25th place in the 2008 national finals.

Words spelled to qualify for the semifinals:
  • sedentary
  • parody
  • calque
  • warrant
  • quomodo
  • verbiage
  • Micawber
  • congenital
  • cemetery
  • secede
  • abyss
  • scalene
  • thorough
  • arrogance
  • mores
  • affluent
  • rebuttal
  • asylum
  • onychorrhexis
  • limousine
  • vacillatory
  • cubicle
  • isthmus
  • décor
  • civitas
  • nineties
  • pogrom

ESPN.com Unicorns

Disclaimer: This is my personal view and opinion, which does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of ESPN.

You can try out the code on this page. Just type: ↑ ↑ ↓ ↓ ← → ← → B A on your keyboard. Or click this Cornify button: Cornify

I am the developer who removed the javascript from ESPN.com the evening of April 27th, 2009. Kotatu broke the story on the unicorn Easter Egg. The Konami code triggered Easter Egg is popular on many sites like Digg (expands the comments). It was added the day before April Fools (4/1/2009), but it didn’t explode on the Internet til Kotatu blogged about it on the afternoon of Tuesday April 27th, 2009. It wasn’t a hack, virus, or anything malicious, just a Easter Egg prank by a developer.

EXPLANATION: Cornify is a javascript plugin written by Paul Irish Christoph Helzle that puts sparkles, rainbows, unicorns, happiness and glitter images on the site. Paul Irish wrote the Konami trigger. The code also changes the font to Comic Sans and the font color to purple/pink and adds corny words to the page. You can add the Konami code triggered Easter Egg to your own site with the code below.

<script type="text/javascript" src="http://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/1.3.2/jquery.min.js"></script>
<script type="text/javascript">
var kkeys = [], konami = "38,38,40,40,37,39,37,39,66,65";
$(document).keydown(function(e) {
  kkeys.push( e.keyCode );
  if ( kkeys.toString().indexOf( konami ) >= 0 ){

The most interesting part about the Easter Egg is the fast viral spread across the Internet. Also no one seemed to have anything negative to say. Most people thought it was great that there was this code that changed the site. The only negative thing I have seen is that some people incorrectly thought the site was hacked.

Twitter and Facebook exploded with the Easter Egg too. “ESPN”, “unicorn”, “Konami” were all trending on Twitter. And I personally got lots of mentions on twitter after I tweeted that I was taking the unicorns down.

  • 4/27 19:26 - keithlam: removing Easter Egg from ESPN.com. thanks internet blogs
  • 4/27 19:29 - geekgrrl: RT @keithlam: removing Easter Egg from ESPN.com. thanks internet blogs.; Awwww. ESPN Web Dev is going to axe the fun.
  • 4/27 19:31 - mager: Goto ESPN.com and do the Komani code (up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, Enter). Quick before @keithlam removes it.
  • 4/27 19:31 - paul_irish: @keithlam ooooooh sad!! everyone loves it though! http://search.twitter.com/search?q=espn
  • 4/27 19:32 - sujal: @keithlam sorry man, it’s my fault for yammering it.
  • 4/27 19:32 - paul_irish: @schill hahaahah!! so awesome. sadly they’re gonna take it off: http://twitter.com/keithlam/statuses/1633743492
  • 4/27 19:32 - mathewfoster: @keithlam BBBOOOOOO
  • 4/27 19:32 - scottconnor: @keithlam woah, ESPN’s trending pretty well on twitter right now: http://tr.im/jRND
  • 4/27 19:36 - cabel: …aaaand ESPN took it down. http://bit.ly/wah-wah — Hey, @keithlam, don’t add it if you don’t have the stones to fight for it! :)
  • 4/27 19:36 - boxkite: NOOOOOOOOOOO!!! RT @keithlam: removing Easter Egg from ESPN.com. thanks internet blogs
  • 4/27 19:36 - geekgrrl: @keithlam Aww, why’d you have to take away our fun? ;) I take it that wasn’t something you did.
  • 4/27 19:37 - keithlam: Dear internet, I didn’t add the code or make the decision to take the unicorns off ESPN.com. Don’t shoot the messenger. kthxbye
  • 4/27 19:39 - christydena: @keithlam :(
  • 4/27 19:40 - alexquigley: Aha! Maybe this guy knows something about it: @keithlam What was that, man?
  • 4/27 19:40 - paul_irish: The espn unicorns are gone, everyone. http://twitter.com/keithlam Please feel free to cornify your own site: http://?.ws/?
  • 4/27 19:43 - cabel: @keithlam Call me crazy, but isn’t "thanks internet blogs" just another form of shooting the messenger? ;) Anyway, sad to see it go! :)
  • 4/27 19:43 - meancode: @keithlam well that’s no fun!
  • 4/27 19:44 - mnolin: Entirely unfortunate that unicorns were removed from ESPN.com - best idea ever. And who are we supposed to shoot if not @keithlam ?
  • 4/27 19:44 - alexpalex: @keithlam If you didn’t think the internet would go batshit insane over glittery unicorns triggered by a nerd code, I’ll sell you a bridge
  • 4/27 19:44 - sujal: @keithlam hehe
  • 4/27 19:45 - Donerail: @keithlam booo
  • 4/27 19:45 - Drarok: @keithlam Awwwww :(
  • 4/27 19:45 - ErneX: @keithlam omg FAIL bring back the glitter to espn.com hahah
  • 4/27 19:46 - unicornrockstar: @mndaniels oh i guess they took it down. http://twitter.com/keithlam/status/1633743492
  • 4/27 19:56 - gulup_jamun: aaaand ESPN took it down. http://bit.ly/wah-wah - Hey, @keithlam, don’t add it if you don’t have the stones to fight for it! :) (via @cabel)
  • 4/27 19:59 - deadspin: @keithlam: You might want to check all of your pages. That was one heck of an Easter Egg.
  • 4/27 20:3 - ddej: Konami code on ESPN.com: http://is.gd/uZpw. Check out exchange btw @cabel & @keithlam here: http://twitter.com/cabel/status/1633416790.
  • 4/27 20:6 - MisterD: @gruber Doh! Never mind. http://twitter.com/keithlam/status/1633743492
  • 4/27 20:8 - kevinchu: @eltejano Yup. Look: http://twitter.com/keithlam/
  • 4/27 20:14 - keithlam: @Deadspin yeah, i am in the process of making sure that it is removed from all the pages. thanks for letting the internet know ;)
  • 4/27 20:16 - deadspin: @keithlam: We do what we can.
  • 4/27 20:41 - evanw: @demonbaby Aww, http://twitter.com/keithlam/statuses/1633743492
  • 4/27 20:48 - alexnichols11: @keithlam WHY DO YOU HATE FUN?!?!
  • 4/27 20:54 - sleepybrett: @keithlam spoilsport.
  • 4/27 20:57 - keithlam: there is a first time for everything: today it was honestly my job to hunt down unicorns and kill them
  • 4/27 21:2 - cloud79: http://twitter.com/keithlam/status/1634481147 HA!
  • 4/27 21:26 - espnbish: @keithlam all bow to the unicorn slayer. might be my favorite tweet ever.
  • 4/27 21:49 - jdeuel: rt @keithlam : there is a first time for everything: today it was honestly my job to hunt down unicorns and kill them
  • 4/27 21:59 - stillgray: @keithlam is responsible for murdering the unicorns on ESPN’s website. That murdering bastard.
  • 4/27 22:3 - ask: @keithlam Man, that "easter egg" was AWE-SOME!
  • 4/27 22:3 - keithlam: @stillgray i like to say it was slaying unicorns. not murder :)
  • 4/27 22:43 - keithlam: I personally enjoyed the unicorns. Honestly. But all good things must come to an end or maybe just transform into something else… :)
  • 4/27 22:45 - sujal: @keithlam ssssshhhhh.
  • 4/27 22:48 - keithlam: RT @wirelessjoe: @sujal my point was it was interesting how many non-sports fans were talking about it [unicorns on espn.com]
  • 4/27 22:50 - steveclancy: @keithlam perhaps if we can get it sponsored :)
  • 4/27 22:54 - keithlam: sponsorship opportunity @konami @espn put a konami code easter egg up, maybe it could show Pro Soccer 09 ad instead http://tr.im/jSxx
  • 4/28 2:11 - fonnerberry: @keithlam Aww, don’t suppose I could bribe you to put the unicorns back.
  • 4/28 2:50 - weblizard: RT @geekgrrl: RT @keithlam: removing Easter Egg from ESPN.com. Awwww. ESPN Web Dev is going to axe the fun. // what was it?
  • 4/28 6:12 - matthewweston: @sparticus I missed it! RT: @keithlam there is a first time for everything: today it was honestly my job to hunt down unicorns and kill them
  • 4/28 10:48 - shiflett: I missed the ESPN.com Easter egg. Apparently @keithlam was tasked with removing it. Who knew killing unicorns was a job description? :-)
  • 4/28 10:54 - webdevgeek: Quick b4 @keithlam fixes it go to http://is.gd/v5VM and type: up up down down left right left right b a enter [keep pressing]