DuringESPN’s upfront on May 16,SportsCenteranchorKenny Maynecaptured the issues surrounding the cable business in his inimitable, amusing way. Wearing white wings as the “Angel of Advertising,” Mayne was lowered 100 feet to the stage, suspended only by what he described as a thin piece of fishing line.
“It’s a metaphor for the strength of cable, look at it that way,” he said.
Mayne said concerns about the future of ESPN and other cable networks were overblown. He pointed to the logos of the leagues and conferences ESPN has deals with.
“These leagues and conferences aren’t going away because every day a new baby is born that might play in one of these leagues,” he said. “Babies aren’t going away. People are going to continue to have sex and lots of it. Why? Because of the seductive commercials you people run during the games that people watch on ESPN. That’s how babies are made. It’s also how we make money.”
Mayne pointed to a chart he said “shows the increase in people signing up for cable subscriptions.” Unfortunately for ESPN and others in the pay TV ecosystem, the chart was circa 1996.
“It’s time we faced the truth together,” Mayne said, addressing the media buyers in the stands. “The total number of people watching television the way they used to watch television might have declined. Minimally. Like a rounding error. I ask you this: Does anybody even buy stuff based on advertising? We’ll go along with that premise, if you’ll go along with the idea that people are still watching television. We need each other.”
Finally, aNew Jersey Devilsmascot helped lower Mayne into a door in the stage floor, sending him in the direction opposite heaven.
“We’re in this together,” he called out. “I sold my soul to advertising.”