By force-feeding its viewers an unwanted diet of systemic racism and social justice, ESPN has thinned its viewership to an all-time low. The blundering miscalculation sank ESPN's audience this week to the lowest numbers in its 41-year history. Good luck defending this hair-brained strategy to your advertisers, ESPN.
Clay Travis, of Fox Sports Radio and a frequent ESPN "Woke Center" critic, put it all into perspective on his Outkick The Coverage blog.:
"The network, which has become more left wing than MSNBC and CNN combined over the past several weeks, has completely abandoned sports coverage. The result? Viewers, many of whom were willing to watch the channel even during a pandemic disaster with limited sports to consume, have abandoned it in droves. How bad was it? We’re talking full-on crisis mode level awfulness."
The Washington Post also addressed ESPN Television's version of a great depression earlier this week. Ben Strauss wrote: "ESPN has thrown its full capacity into covering the protests, through a sports lens and beyond." Social justice coverage by ESPN is "all-consuming," and SportsCenter host Michael Eaves (seen at left in photo with Stephen A. Smith) said, “ESPN has allowed us to express ourselves in this moment." Rob King, ESPN’s editor at large of content, said:
“If it feels and looks different and looks personal, it’s because it is. At ESPN, we deeply care about the issue of fairness and equality, and the people we cover clearly share that point of view. That’s why this feels unique. This is a time when everything is heightened with so much uncertainty and feeling fear, but what you hear and see is about simple humanity.
“What’s happening now, I can see it and hear it — this need to explain this sense of isolation within the African American community that is the source of so much pain.”
ESPN is feeling the pain now. It totally turned off its audience and many viewers tuned out.
First Take was the highest-rated ESPN studio show Wednesday with just 211,000 viewers, ranking 93rd among all cable programs. That's half the audience garnered by National Geographic's Smuggler: Secret Stash. Cartoon Network's Craig of the Creek nearly doubled First Take, too.
The rest of ESPN's Wednesday viewership numbers is embarrassing. The most-watched SportsCenter Wednesday scraped together a pitiful 168,000 viewers. On the day the NBA was getting publicity for plans to resume the season, ESPN's NBA: The Jump found a measly 112,000 souls to tune in. Around the Horn struggled to pull in 175,000 viewers, Highly Questionable creaked and groaned to hit 151,000, Get Up appealed to only 136,000 viewers and Jalen and Jacoby strained to reach 122,000.
Other ESPN programs didn't even make a blip on the radar, failing to place in cable television's top 150 shows for the day. Ouch!
Travis writes that ESPN's studio programming "has hit all time lows over the past two weeks. ... Yes, sports is down, but ESPN is tanking at a level unseen in the history of the network. And unseen compared to other sports networks." Travis calls ESPN's woeful performance "an ominous sign for sports ratings to be tanking as sports prepare to return to play.":
"There are many serious things going on in our country right now and the vast majority of sports fans know where to find news about serious things going on in the world. That’s why cable news ratings have skyrocketed. But sports fans don’t want their sports commentators to be weighing in on non-sports news on sports networks."
WokeCenter fails every time ESPN embraces it, Travis says. And despite President Jimmy Pitaro's soft push to de-politicize the network, ESPN is again resorting to its Caitlyn Jenner-style social justice antics. "Especially in an election year when sports fans are craving something other than politics all the time.":
"But here we go again: ESPN’s has leaned right into WokeCenter, this time on steroids, and the business has collapsed unlike anything we’ve ever seen in the history of the network."
How much worse can it get for the "Extremely Stupid Political Network"?
Travis says it all depends on how much more WokeCenter we get and whether anyone at ESPN can regain the station controls. "Because right now ESPN is dead."