PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) –- One of the biggest myths baseball perpetuates on America is that no other sports are played during All-Star week.
Though that's false, Major League Baseball has just enough willing accomplices to make it seem true.
On Tuesday, the day of this year's All-Star Game, Disney's (DIS) ESPN listed just one other event on its sports calendar: The Tour de France, which was on a rest day and had recaps airing on Comcast's (CMCSA) NBC Sports Network. What ESPN failed to mention is that it had competing sports programming of its own airing that same evening.
During the hours that Fox (FOXA) aired the All-Star Game, ESPN had access to live broadcasts of the U.S. national lacrosse team playing the Iroquois Nationals in the World Lacrosse Championships, the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks taking on the Houston Comets and an NBA Summer League game between the Miami Heat and Washington Wizards. None of that comes close to the caliber of the All-Star Game, which makes ESPN's decision to bury actual sports coverage all the more bizarre.
ESPN plugged up its flagship network with SportsCenter coverage from the All-Star Game host site of Target Field in Minneapolis before switching to the World Series Of Poker. The network dropped its WNBA game to ESPN2 for an 8 p.m. EST showing that followed an awards ceremony. The lacrosse championship, meanwhile, was foisted on to the ESPN U college station, while NBA summer league games were relegated to the streaming-only ESPN3.
That's a whole lot of sports that ESPN could've given a chance to shine. We've pointed out ESPN's awkward juggling of sports before, but it's really something to behold when the All-Star Game comes around. Consider that NBC Sports Network's Tour de France coverage on the day of the All-Star Game consisted of little other than rest-day recaps and analysis, which ESPN parried with poker.
Even worse, however, was the following day. Major League Baseball had the day off and NBC's coverage of Stage 11 of the Tour de France aired live and then twice more before being shown again at 8 p.m. EST.
What did ESPN send up against it? The ESPYS: Its annual awards show that costs upwards of $7 million to produce and gets the network cozy with the athletes it's supposed to objectively cover (although athletes get awards and compensation from their own leagues, mind you).
Last year, after ESPN laid off roughly 400 employees, the ESPYs drew 2.3 million viewers -- or less than two reruns of Family Guy on the Cartoon Network (3 million and 2.7 million), four reruns of The Big Bang Theory on TBS (between 3.1 million and 3.2 million each) and the premiere of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo on TLC.