LeBron James’ decision about where he will play next season is certainly newsworthy but to devote a one-hour prime-time special on it?! That’s what ESPN is doing with the dramatically-titled The Decision tomorrow night at 9PM. (That name is usually used by news networks for their coverage of other important events, like presidential elections.) Given that the announcement of James’ choice will take a few minutes at best, expect an hour of fillers leading to it, kinda like an American Idol results episode. (UPDATE: ESPN says James will announce his team pick in the first 15 minutes, which brings up the question: Why not do it as a 15-minute special?) And if you thought that was an overkill, ESPN also plans a three-hour SportsCenter leading into The Decision that will be devoted to James’ decision as well as an expanded two-hour SportsCenter immediately following the special, which will dissect that decision. At least James is doing it for a good cause: proceeds from The Decision will be donated to Boys & Girls Club of America.
UPDATE: In a conference call with reporters, ESPN defended the editorial integrity of its decision to let James’ company LRMR Marketing sell the ad spots for The Decision, noting that the money goes to charity. “There was no rights fee, no payment, and we will have complete editorial control over the hour,” ESPN executive VP of production Norby Williamson said.
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