I used to be a devoted reader and watcher of ESPN. But over the past few years I’ve only used their website to check scores, and I haven’t watched a full episode of programming since the early 2010s. Despite this, I’ve been a sports fan since my youth, and I’m fully aware of just how social justice oriented ESPN has become.
Per SportsTVRatings.com, ESPN lost 422,000 viewing homes this past month. Yes, the gradual transition from traditional TV to streaming services is a factor, but the network’s increasing politicization should not be neglected either.
ESPN is also suffering financially. Sports Illustrated reports that:
ESPN will have significant cost-cutting over the next four months on its talent side (people in front of the camera or audio/digital screen). Multiple sources said ESPN has been tasked with paring tens of millions of staff salary from its payroll, including staffers many viewers and readers will recognize.
It’s obvious there’s a disconnect between ESPN and its viewers. The average sports fan, like myself, sees sports as an escape. Sports writers can spill as much ink as they’d like about how it’s wrong to “stick to sports,” but only liberal sports fans agree with this because the media is on their side.
I also recognize that conservative sports fans will always want sports writers to “stick to sports” because the media is not on their side. That’s how human nature works: we like mediums that support our view and dislike mediums that don’t. Yet if a sports outlet is alienating viewership, perhaps they should reexamine their coverage. If they don’t, then social justice crusading is obviously more important to them than ratings.