Monday, October 22, 2012

Commitment to Late Night Latest Sports TV Move

Not so long ago, businesses actually shut down for the night.

Major retailers closed their doors at 9 p.m., many restaurants stopped serving about that time and radio and TV stations signed off at midnight or sometime in the early morning hours as well.

Round-the-clock service existed at some places, but it was rare. That was also true on radio and TV, where late-night hours were reserved for B movies, reruns and paid programming.

All-sports channels have changed that -- especially in recent years -- with events that start at all times of the day. In addition, ESPN's commitment in recent years to a presence in Los Angeles has allowed the production of live, original episodes of "SportsCenter" much later in the broadcast day.

Overall, as younger generations of viewers have continually extended the typical viewing day, TV programmers have noticed. It's not by accident that ESPNU added a late-night program ("UNite") earlier this year, and that CBS Sports Network does the same starting tonight with "Lead Off."

Of the two, "Lead Off" has the best chance to produce engaging and entertaining -- something worth staying up to watch -- because it has Doug Gottlieb as a co-host. He's clearly the best and most proven of any of the on-air talents involved with either of those two late-night shows.

A former college basketball player with on-air skills honed through assignments on ESPN and ESPN Radio, Gottlieb left the four-letter all-sports network to join CBS Sports Network on radio and TV. His national radio show begins Jan. 2, as launches its lineup of sports-talk radio. He'll also work college basketball games and, of course, "Lead Off."

Such lat-night shows will never draw the viewers and overall interest of their prime-timeor daytime counterparts, but it's good to see an attempt at quality, with a proven, talented host, as opposed to creating something just to fill time.

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