Despite surveys by at least two other disinterested parties, ESPN continues to insist it isn’t losing viewers because of its ever-present liberal bias. And now, to prove its point, ESPN paid for a survey that set out to prove ESPN has no liberal bias. Unsurprisingly, the survey found that ESPN has no liberal bias.
On Monday, ESPN’s public relations department was pleased to tweet out that new research on the cable sports network’s viewership finds that ESPN is not losing customers because of a liberal bias:
— ESPN Front Row (@ESPNFrontRow) June 5, 2017
ESPN commissioned New York-based Langer Research Associates for a May 3-7 survey that, according to ESPN, “belie the notion” that its liberal bias has “any impact on our business.”
Contrary to what other surveys not bought and paid for by ESPN shows, this new survey miraculously finds that 64 percent of ESPN viewers think the network gets its liberal politics just right, that viewers even think that ESPN is too conservative and that conservative viewers think ESPN is doing fantastic work.
ESPN goes on to claim that its paid report proves it has no problem with liberal bias.
“Does it affect their viewing behavior?” ESPN asks of its liberal bias. “Not in any material way. Indeed, in 2016 and for the third straight year ESPN was the highest-rated full-time cable network among Men and Adults aged 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54.”
This rosy survey, though, runs contrary to three separate surveys from two different research groups (whose research were not commissioned and paid for by ESPN) which found quite the opposite.
Early in May a YouGov poll emerged showing that Republicans had begun turning away from ESPN, but it was still just an opinion poll, not hard data.
Not long afterward, a review of ESPN viewers in the Cincinnati, Ohio, market by a TV research group named Deep Root found that viewers who call themselves Republicans and conservatives had abandoned ESPN in significant numbers.
Weeks later, and responding to criticism that Deep Root’s Cincinnati survey might not be representative of the country as a whole, the TV research company reviewed the data in 43 major TV markets across the nation and found that the Cincinnati results were reflected everywhere. According to Deep Root, ESPN has lost millions of viewers who consider themselves center right. Why would these viewers have quit watching the network if they weren’t sick and tired of the constant liberal bias?
So, the surveys not paid for by ESPN seem to find a far different reality than the surveys ESPN favors.
But, what is clear is that ESPN is stung by claims it is too liberal. Starting in November of last year with an extensive article by ESPN Ombudsman Jim Brady (which naturally found no liberal bias), network executives have repeatedly denied that ESPN has a liberal bias problem.
And now, here is ESPN once again addressing the bias issue with a survey that again “proves” that ESPN has no problem with liberal bias. ESPN seems to be trying to prove the old maxim that if you say something loudly and long enough it “becomes” the truth.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.