ESPN’s bound and determined quest to hit the bottom of the barrel passed another point of critical mass this week.
According to the Comeback, “ESPN declined 9 percent in prime time from 2016 (1.386 million vs. 1.526 million) and was the cabler’s least-watched second-quarter in four years.”
ESPN wasn’t the only cable sports network to take a big hit. TNT also suffered big time, losing seventeen percent of their viewership from this time last year.
It’s no coincidence that ESPN and TNT took big hits at the same time. Both networks carried the NBA playoffs this year, which registered a net nothing with viewers. Since the games were largely uncompetitive, and most everyone correctly assumed that the Cavaliers and the Warriors would eventually face off against each other.
However, this year’s ratings dive could prove to be a long-term disaster for these networks, especially ESPN. As Samuel Chi noted on this page months ago, ESPN has made their bed with the NBA. The Disney sports giant has committed $1.4 billion to the NBA for the better part of the next decade.
Compelling this year’s ratings nosedive is a lack of competition due to the formation of super teams such as Golden State. Golden State’s best player, Kevin Durant, recently agreed to an extremely team friendly contract which will allow the Warriors to not just retain his services, but also allow them to retain other stars and add additional pieces, prolonging Golden State’s dominance.
Should that happen, ESPN, a network already alienating half the country with their leftist politics will have thrown their weight in behind a league ever-increasing in its unlikeability, for lack of competition as well as its politics.
In that sense, ESPN and the NBA pretty much deserve each other