One Sportscast Gone, How Many More to Go?

These have to be trying times for sportscasters. Not only have a growing number of these folks seen their time in the local newscast cut, but also since they usually do their thing at the tail end of a newscast, they often have their time cut by producers who wanted to spend more time on a live shot at a fire that occurred 12 hours before. In some cases the sportscast has been cut altogether. Such is the case with WTKR, a CBS affiliate and former NYTimes station in Norfolk, VA. According to a story in the local newspaper in Norfolk, the sportscast will be dropped during the week. Football and perhaps other sports highlights will be shown on weekends and they will do the weekly sports highlight shows. The article goes on to say that (in this case) both the sports guys will be involved in sports during the weekend. What, you are probably asking now, will they do during the week? I’m glad you asked. They will serve as reporters for NEWS. Yes, that’s right, news. I’m sure the news of this is sending shock waves around the country for the sports crews.

This to my knowledge is the first station of the LocalTV group owned by Oak Hill Capital Partners (formerly NYTimes broadcast group) to shut down a local sportscast. Is this trend going to spread to the sister stations in the group, including WREG? I know talking with one of the sports guys a few weeks ago he was lamenting the cuts already made in sports. This news can’t be making him a happy camper at all. Any TV manager type will tell you that sports is WAAAAAYYYYYY down the list when it comes to priorities in a newsroom and newscast. This could be the nail in the coffin of local sportscasts.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see sports dropped at some stations in the Memphis area.  Of course if one station keeps sports, it WOULD be a  great marketing  and promotional tool to  say you are the only place in town to get local sports.

Yah, some sports folks have reason to be concerned.  Afterall more than one person has said “It’s all about the bottom line” these days.  And you can take that to the bank.

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8 Comments on “One Sportscast Gone, How Many More to Go?”

  1. The GM Says:

    There is a reason Sports is at the end of the newscast, it doesn’t drive viewership. Everyone is interested in weather. Not everyone is interested in sports. Research and ratings prove the point.

    I don’t see this change coming immediately in markets with a professional/major league team (this includes strong college teams) but it will become common in markets where the weeknight sports report consists of the scores from the large city 150 miles away and the touching sports related video available via AP. The truth is with ESPN, local sports — unless its the beat of a major league team — is just not important to the viewer and a lot of the sports guys who have been in place 10+ years make too much money for what they return in value. As much as people say “oh I wish you’d cover the local college’s girls softball team”, its a very limited audience.

    The GM

  2. Doug J. Says:

    Not to be a naysayer (Nay! Nay!), but I’ve been hearing about the demise of sportscasts in markets without major sports for 10 years now. I’ve even seen other stations that have done away with sports — only to bring them back later — after a news director or GM change… or visit by the new consultants.

    I doubt it’ll happen here. U of M, the Redbirds, Cardinals, Ole Miss — there are just too many big time (or semi-big time) sports in the region to dump sports altogether. I doubted it a few years back when one of my old news directors at the station DOTR said the station was going to “scale back” sports.

  3. Sportzfan Says:


    I enjoy the site but have never posted until now.

    This ND tried the same trick (dropping sports) in Roanoke VA for a time, and it didn’t last. So this too shall pass.

    As for what “The GM” has to say- this has always puzzled me. If I understand this right, people don’t care about local sports because they’ve already seen their highlights on ESPN (which works only for major league teams by the way, good luck seeing Memphis Tiger Football, or even Tiger Basketball highlights), right?

    So why do local stations continue to run national news stories- doesn’t CNN, MSNBC or FOX news handle that? Weather too- there is something called the Weather Channel right?

    If you’re doing local sports right- with an emphasis on the “local”, giving fans something they can’t get on ESPN, you’ve got nothing to worry about.

    And if local sports is dying off, why does sports always lead the news when something big happens (Tiger hoops elite 8 run, Grizzlies trade, hiring/firing, etc)?

  4. the tall tv guy Says:

    But when an area team goes to a bowl game or the basketball tournament, you better send a crew…the viewers/fans/alums who can’t go expect to see how their team does. ESPN can’t do that.

    I did notice that years ago, stations stopped giving all baseball scores, just the Cardinals and the Redbirds, just list the results going into a break.

  5. Hey Joe,

    The Roanoke market where Shane Moreland came from, now ND at WTKR, is technically our DMA here where we live just outside of Charlottesville, VA It’s kind of like that Jackson-Memphis thing. We live 2 hours from Roanoke but that’s the locals for DirecTV out here in the mountains. He was a total disaster at WSLS in Roanoke. His total mishandling of two on air meteorologists that were caught up in heroin ( addiction eventually caught up I suspect. One of them quit, the other fired not for the use of heroin, but having a lewd photo placed on He and the GM totally botched the PR on it. The GM if I am correct in my memory, was eventually “quit/fired” as a result.

    It will be interesting to see what happens at WTKR. We watched him can one of the better sports anchors at his last station and replace him with nothing anywhere close in talent, knowledge, or presence.

    If these local stations would just be local news, sports, and weather instead of everything else, fire all of the consultants, and go with their gut, it would turn around, but do we really think that’s going to happen…not likely!

  6. The GM Says:

    Who makes more? Dave Brown or Jarvis Greer? On the hierarchy of importance, sports is last. Sports fans want to see local sports highlights of the sports that interest them. News viewers can take it or leave it. Name a TV station that is #1 in its market because of its sports coverage.

    As I understand what is happening in Virginia, they are not dropping sports. They are focusing sports coverage on the weekends and utilizing their sports guys for news coverage during the week. Don’t you think if there is a big sports story during the week that the sports guys will be covering it?

    Sports in the daily newscast will become more of an option during the week — only when something pertinent is available. I am suggesting the days of a regular sports segment and the sports director pulling some AP piece on the heart-warming autistic kid hitting the winning basket are numbered. Not what you want to hear but becoming a reality in more and more markets.

    The GM

  7. Ready Camera One, Take Two Says:

    What to do with all of those plaid sportcoats….

  8. Sportzfan Says:

    Here’s an interesting read on the WTKR experiment from the folks at ground zero-

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