Tiger Woods beats Lebron to win ESPN's Who's Now? But Nike the big winner in fixed contest
I’m not the first blogger to rip Who’s Now? Kiel Christianson whined about the coverage cutting into his essential Brewers-Marlins highlights two weeks ago.
But his complaints were of taste. Mine are of deceit, foul play, and possibly the greatest triumph of marketing since P.T. Barnum.
Viewers of SportsCenter will note Tiger won, while Lebron James finished in second. Both finalists of course are products of The Swoosh.
Look, we can all pretend to believe this was a legit contest where the fan’s online vote determined who advanced through the bracket. Or, we as Americans admit that we can no longer accept voting results, whether it’s a presidential election or a novelty time-filler.
I’ve been hypothesizing all week, so much in fact that my editor is going to be a little mad when he finds none of my assignments were finished (or started). But I’ve narrowed it down to three conspiracy theories as to how Who’s Now? was in the clutches of Nike all along, not the “fan” as so often indicated by Stuart Scott.
Conspiracy theory one: It was a legit contest, but Nike fixed the votes.
Upon hearing about this exciting new contest in search of exactly how Nike tries to market it’s athletes, Phil Knight sent executive orders to his Asian sneaker factories. Workers were taken off the sewing machines and given laptops, where they were inhumanely forced vote over and over for all Nike athletes for up to 18 hours straight with no food. Rumors even indicate they weren’t even given a mouse and had to use the all-too-frustrating touch pad.
This barrage of votes from overseas was more than enough to skew voting towards Nike’s favor.
Conspiracy theory two: Who’s Now? was part of a revolutionary advertising package.
Sponsors aren’t just given commercials with their TV ad packages anymore - not with TiVO, DV-R and rapid advancement of the “clicker". Instead, Sales & Marketing teams are always looking for the next best way to trick audiences into thinking what they’re watching is part of the story (like product placement) or the voice of the public (Billboard’s album charts).
So, this particular advertising package included X-number of commercials, Lebron James hosting the ESPYs and a Nike-dominated Who’s Now? contest.
Conspiracy theory three: Maybe buying out ESPN execs and personalities was all it took. It couldn’t have been hard cash, that reveals a paper trail. Let’s see which anchors come back from vacation with a little sun or maybe flash a shiny Rolex on set. Someone could hang out in the parking lot and see if there’s any new BMWs in the lot.
An inconvenient truth, I know, but we must demand transparency. The power of blogging can and will change the course of history of online promotional voting contests.
I will concede however, I’d rather see Who’s Now? take up SportsCenter airtime over NASCAR highlights, X Games and Pedro Gomez covering Barry Bonds.
Some of you at this point may be wondering, “Okay, Tucker, then if Who’s Now? was a legit contest, who could stand a chance beating out Tiger and Lebron?
Simple: David Beckham and Natalie Gulbis. You have to have a reality show to be “now", obviously.
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So, which would draw the most viewers, Cute little girl next door or a catfight show with the Mrs Beckham and the schlock queen?
That's pretty Now, isn't it?
Deadspin called it soul-crushingly lame. Hey, remember when
ESPN was going to revolutionize sports TV? Well, it turns out maybe not.
Where's the love, Terrance?