Data Viz Done Right

December 15, 2014

Makeover Monday: ESPN is biggest reason cable TV isn’t going to die anytime soon

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I'm a HUGE sports fan and love to watch live sports, which means I love ESPN. This also means I'm tied to cable or satellite TV since ESPN does not broadcast online without a subscription. Today's Makeover Monday take a look at ESPN's broadcast rights to major sports.

Consider this simple bar chart by Cork Gaines of Business Insider:


Seems simple enough, right? Simple, yes. But is it 100% truthful? No.
  • I'm not convinced the data is accurate. The rights listed on wikipedia don't align, but you shouldn't assume wikipedia is 100% accurate either.
  • The very first bar bugs me. How can you bucket a bunch of sports into NCAA when each sport has a separate contract?
  • Using a bar chart assumes that all of these contracts started in 2010, which is not the case.
  • This chart shows that the college football playoff contract started in 2010, yet the CFB playoffs don't start until 2015. This is clearly wrong.
I was torn between a couple of alternatives, so I'll show you both of them. If you want the data, you can download it here. You can download the Tableau workbook here.

My first alternative was to make a Gantt chart so that I could see the entire length of the contracts. In this view, I've updated the timeline to go back to 1981.




My second alternative is simply a dot plot view of the original chart. This view keeps the timeline starting at 2010.


Which do you prefer? I'm torn.

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