The $5.6 billion New Year’s Eve nightmare continued for ESPN, with Saturday’s games averaging only a 10.4 rating, down 32 percent from the 15.4 rating just two years ago.
The Sporting News tried to put the best face on the debacle, noting it was not quite as bad as the 9.8 in 2015, which was a 36 percent drop from 2014.
ESPN can now only hope the title game next week between Alabama and Clemson goes better than when the same two teams met last year (see Breitbart Sports story, “‘Embarrassing’ for ESPN: More Watch Basketball Title Than Football Championship”).
The unheard of event of more Americans watching a basketball game than a football game cast wide concern of the $5.6 billion in a 12-year deal ESPN penned for the College Football Playoffs. Last year the Sporting News reported ESPN might need to repay $20 million to advertisers due to the low ratings.
The low ratings occurred despite the fact that ESPN could not have asked for a luckier draw, as the two games featured the best three fan bases in all of college football (1, Alabama, 2, Ohio State and 3, Clemson) and one of the two biggest fan bases from the west in Washington, according to USA Today’s rankings. Geographically the 32% drop is from an apples-to-apples comparison, as the 2014 playoffs featured the same best two fan bases (Alabama and Ohio State), subbed the other top western fan base (Oregon) and also had the ACC champ (Florida State in 2014 compared to Clemson this year).
While sports used to offer Americans a place to get away from political and other divisions to root for a common team, Disney’s ESPN instead chose to use their reach to try to shape a liberal agenda, such as labeling those who referred to the Washington Redskins as racists. They never bothered to ask Native Americans, and when the Washington Post finally did and found 9 in 10 did NOT consider the team name racist, ESPN personality Michael Wilbon said he was “stunned” by the findings of the poll, thinking the majority of Native Americans would be offended, adding that “this shuts the door on the issue” of changing the Redskins’ name.” (see Breitbart story)
Perhaps a return to sports as a safe haven from political attacks and protests would bring back viewers.
The speculation that the left wing Disney might sell ESPN in light of the subscriber nosedive, as reported in this Breitbart story, might be the first step to sports programming that is about – well – sports.