One would think that ESPN would have some humility after some of its debacles this past year. Or if not humility, at least someone set up in corporate to weigh in and veto really, really stupid ideas. "Bonds on Bonds" was perhaps the worst ESPN Original Entertainment idea to date, receiving horrific television ratings. ESPN Mobile, a proprietary mobile phone network with its own branded content, was mercifully shelved--but not until it had lost $150M and made every anchor and reporter shill for the doomed concept (not to mention the omnipresent commercials and plugs inserted in the ticker crawl, which made one want to stick sharp implements in one's eyes).
But now, a new low, after they have sold out the cover of their own magazine, "ESPN the Rag," with a special, four-page wraparound cover of Will Ferrell's movie Talladega Nights, now available on DVD. Are you kidding me? Would you ever see Time Magazine with a special wraparound cover for Ron Burgundy as Person of the Year? Or The Economist wishing everyone Merry Christmas with a Buddy the Elf cover?
Not that I ever believed ESPN the Magazine had any journalistic standards in the first place (though admittedly, its layouts are sometimes pretty creative), but this sell-out is pretty amazing. Not only is it irrelevant to the magazine content and annoying (sort of like the Fantasy Sports and Hockey sections of the magazine--but that's another story), but it's a slap in the face to the poor guy who made the cover this week in the first place (Adalius Thomas of the Ravens). Perhaps upcoming covers can just be auctioned off to the highest bidder--the Borat DVD should street in about three months.