ESPN has been in a slow free fall in both ratings and viewership over the past year. Their troubles in these areas continue to grow.
While the main reason could be that costly cable and satellite subscriptions are preventing people from signing on and forcing many others to leave, it may also be the network’s left-leaning politics. According to The Daily Wire, this combination has resulted in 750,000 people canceling their subscriptions in the first quarter of 2017.
Networks like ESPN rely on monthly subscriptions to largely fund their business. When a person pays for a monthly cable or satellite bill, companies like ESPN, CNN, MSNBC, and other receive a portion of that payment regardless of whether the consumer actually tuned into those networks.
Some believe this allows these networks to operate however they see fit, regardless of viewership or ratings. If they get paid regardless of whether or not viewers watch them, then what obligation do they have to appeal to their audiences?
This would seemingly explain ESPN’s support of Colin Kaepernick protesting the National Anthem and other leftist agendas last year despite the majority of their audience being Republican, supposes The Daily Caller.
Clay Travis, founder of Outkick The Coverage, a conservative blog on Fox News, explains why many Americans have begun bailing on ESPN. “Middle America wants to pop beer and listen to sports talk, they don’t want to be lectured about why Caitlyn Jenner is a hero, Michael Sam is the new Jackie Robinson of sports, and Colin Kaepernick is the Rosa Parks of football,” Travis wrote.
He said that ESPN’s efforts to appeal to the Left has alienated the Right as viewers. “ESPN made the mistake of trying to make liberal social media losers happy and as a result lost millions of viewers,” he wrote.
ESPN maintains that viewers seeking cheaper TV online is the real culprit, but admits politics may be a factor. According to a tweet sent out by Jim Brady, ESPN’s Public Editor, “Cable unbundling is the main cause and there’s then a set of smaller causes, politics being one. You may disagree and that’s fine.”
Regardless of the cause, there’s no denying that ESPN is struggling. The network was forced to lay off 300 employees in 2015 and fire 100 employees this year as a result of the decreased revenue, according to CBS News.
ESPN chief John Skipper released a memo to employees saying ESPN was responding by focusing on storytelling. “Our goal continues to be to maximize our unparalleled scale in every medium with storytelling that stands out and makes a difference. We are well-equipped to thrive going forward by embracing those themes,” Skipper wrote.
ESPN 750,000 subscribers in first quarter 2017. Do you think it’s because they have taken left-leaning positions?
ESPN must be careful. If it’s true that viewers cancel their subscriptions primarily due to costs, the last thing they should do is alienate the majority of their remaining audience by appealing to the small liberal demographic.
Whether they adapt their business models or ESPN slowly fades to the background, it is becoming clear that such networks will have to start appealing to their main demographic if they hope to exist in the future.
For ESPN, that audience is largely Right-leaning. They are individuals hoping to watch the game without having their beliefs challenged by the Left’s propagandistic agendas. If they hope to stay around, they must realize that viewers want politics to remain off the field so everyone can enjoy the game.