The news today in the “failing” New York Times presented the reality for an actual failing media enterprise: ESPN. The newspaper reported that the television network has lost more than 10 million subscribers over the past several years.
ESPN has long had a problem with its journalistic integrity, due to its “sponsorship” of the sporting events it brings to viewers. The network was pretty complicit in the fraud that was the Bowl Championship Series, pimping and promoting the best matchups for its TV dollars instead of actually doing true journalism and reporting on the best teams.
All it got for its trouble were low ratings for seemingly rigged matchups the nation didn’t care about because it didn’t feature the “best” teams. It featured the teams ESPN wanted to generate ad revenue.
The network continued its fall by banking heavily on the National Basketball Association, failing to realize that many of its subscribers were not actually fans of the NBA or the sport itself. After making the same mistake with the National Hockey League a decade earlier, you think ESPN would have learned its lesson.
Don’t even get us started on the network’s laughably biased TV coverage of Major League Baseball. It’s hard to find a Sunday Night Baseball broadcast that doesn’t feature the Boston Red Sox or the New York Yankees, no matter what their place in the standings. Instead of finding the best matchup for actual journalism reasons, the network just goes for TV ratings instead.
People caught on a long time ago and stopped watching. When ratings fall, ad revenue falls. When the network has committed, in advance, to years of broadcasting rights, it loses money without that ad revenue generated from high ratings. This isn’t rocket science: ESPN sold its soul, and now it’s paying for it.
We do realize that ESPN stands for “Entertainment and Sports Programming Networks”, and it was never meant to be a true outlet of modern journalistic integrity. However, when you pimp yourself as the “worldwide leader in sports” and you absorb the journalistically sound ABC Sports division, expectations follow.
They weren’t met, and they haven’t been met. Hence, ESPN continues to bleed cash. You now wonder how long it will be before Disney kicks ESPN to the curb.