ESPN’s leftist agenda may have cost the network millions of subscribers in 2017.
Towards the end of 2016, evidence was mounting that cable sports giant ESPN had a tough road ahead. Breitbart News reported the network had lost 555,000 subscribers that November, mostly because cable customers were deciding to stop paying for expensive plans. While “cord cutting” hurts the entire cable industry, it is particularly devastating to ESPN’s bottom line as the network commands the most expensive subscription fees. The entire ESPN family of network makes up about $9.00 of each subscriber’s cable bill every month.
But, ESPN’s problems went deeper than just changes in consumer behavior. The network’s constant coverage of agenda-driven stories such as the NFL anthem protests and LGBT celebrities like Michael Sam and Caitlyn Jenner were beginning to turn off sports fans who just wanted to watch spots.
By April 2017, ESPN was losing 10,000 subscribers each week and viewership was down 16%. ESPN was forced to lay off 100 employees and despite earning the monicker “MSESPN” from sports columnist Clay Travis in a nod to the left leaning MSNBC, the leftward trend continued.
In July, reports surfaced that former employee Britt McHenry had been forced to remove the word “conservative” from her Twitter profile. However, leftist SportsCenter anchor Jemele Hill faced no punishment for a Twitter rant in which she called President Trump a “white supremacist.” Hill’s political rants continued unabated until she was finally suspended after calling for a boycott of the network’s sponsors.
Then, in the ultimate facepalm, ESPN removed Asian-American Robert Lee from a college football broadcast simply because his name was similar to Confederate general Robert E. Lee.
After another round of layoffs in November, ESPN’s President John Skipper abruptly resigned citing “substance addiction” as the reason. Interestingly, Skipper had signed a contract extension through 2021 just weeks before the resignation announcement.
The numbers tell the real story behind ESPN’s problems. According to Business Insider, the network has lost over 13 million subscribers in the past six years. If new leadership does not make meaningful corrections, we expect to see those numbers continue to plummet.