As ESPN desperately tries to retool itself in the face of liberal hectoring, falling revenue, crashing ratings, and a loss of millions of viewers, the cable sports network launched what might be the perfect politically correct show. But, three months in, SC6 with Michael Smith and Jemele Hill is still a ratings loser.
After years of complaints by Republican and conservative viewers who feel that ESPN has become the home of liberalism instead of sports analysis, ESPN has continued its drive leftward, and its replacement for SportsCenter seems to be the network’s most obvious move to curry favor with a liberal, more urban audience.
SC6, presents an urban, big city feel with an opening sporting a hip-hop theme song and featuring hosts Smith and Hill dancing around each other. At one point, Smith even appears in a hoodie. The hosts are both outspoken about social and racial issues, and unsurprisingly lean to the left in their views.
Clearly, this show was created to appeal to a liberal audience: urban and youthful. But, three months into its history, SC6 doesn’t seem to be hitting its mark. Recently, TheBigLead.com took a look at the show’s ratings and found that its first few shows came in strong enough, but as the weeks progressed that support cratered.
“SC6,” Jason Lisk wrote after the show’s March debut, “is down 20% compared to the 2016 SportsCenter” ratings.
The move to replace Lindsay Czarniak’s SportsCenter with SC6 flies in the face of ESPN’s constant claims that it absolutely is not the “liberal sports network,” and that it dos not have a problem with liberalism on its airwaves.
The protestations by network flacks haven’t stemmed the tide of center-right fans who are leaving the network in droves. Several recent reviews of sports fans seem to show that center-right fans are severing their ties with the 38-year-old cable sports network.
In one case, a recent poll of sports fans found that Republicans have lost confidence in the sports channel’s brand name, and just last week a review of viewers in a swing state market showed that center-right fans have stopped watching ESPN in large numbers.
But, SC6 is unlikely to bring these audiences back to the network. Indeed, it may tend to drive even more of them away.
A May 6 piece by Breitbart Sports’ Samuel Chi noted that the NBA’s audience leans toward liberals who exhibit a low voter turnout, and if ESPN is trying to regain its lost audience, focusing on urban fans of the NBA is not the path to regaining that once-massive audience.
If the ratings are any indication, SC6 is not saving ESPN from its continued downward spiral.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.