Clay Travis at Outkick has penned a lengthy, detailed dissertation about ESPN’s dwindling audience base. Last year, ESPN lost some eight million subscribers, a 10 percent decrease. In addition to losing cable subscribers via cord-cutting, the hoped-for counterbalance via subscribers to the ESPN+ streaming service has yet to materialize:
First, ESPN’s existing cable contracts don’t allow them to move their top programming — the college football playoff, Monday Night Football, and the NBA playoffs for instance — off cable and on to streaming.
Last week ESPN released their ESPN+ subscriber numbers so far through the second quarter of 2022. And those numbers while growing, are a pittance, just 22.3 million subscribers currently have ESPN+.
Travis goes on to detail the limited revenue from streaming, concluding that ESPN is in a tailspin from which it will never recover, one that will, in time, seriously inhibit if not prevent altogether its bidding on contracts for major sports.
What Travis doesn’t get into is how despite ESPN’s decreases, televised sports viewership is on the rise. Total viewership for this year’s Super Bowl was up 7.6M over last year, with 99.2M total viewers. NHL playoffs ratings are on the rise. NBA playoffs ratings are the highest they’ve been since 2014. There’s also this tidbit:
Helping to fuel ratings was the return of the Golden State Warriors to the NBA postseason after a two-year hiatus. With core members of the three-time NBA Champions (2015, 2017-18) Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green returning. Game 1 of Western Conference semifinals (Golden State vs. Memphis) averaged 7.71 million viewers, the highest rated first or second round postseason game in ten years.
So it’s not like no one is watching live sports. They’re not watching ESPN. Why is that?
The answer is obvious to all save the wokester jokesters running ESPN, i.e., Disney. People watch sports for escapism, not societal morality lectures. The hard-left bias most sportswriters exhibit is as tone-deaf to reality as Washington bubble dwellers insisting such matters as inflation and a baby formula shortage aren’t a problem. Also, no matter how heavy-handed the browbeating might be regarding The Sports You Have to Care About, the general public still retains final voting power. The WNBA and collegiate women’s softball are not registering in the public conscience.
One would think ESPN would follow Netflix’s lead in ditching the PC and going for giving people what they want. But, never underestimate the liberal mind’s inability, even as they are submerged underwater, to admit the boat is leaking.
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