Sporting WCA

The Death of ESPN

Once known as the top dog when it came to the covering and reporting sports, ESPN has started on a long path of decline into irrelevancy.

ESPN has lost millions of subscribers over the last 5 years. Their approval rating has steadily gone down in comparison to rival sports networks and organizations Fox Sports 1, Bleacher Report, and Sports Illustrated and their parent company Disney’s stock has been in a steady decline mainly in part because of their increasing liberal political stance when it comes to sports and also because of their inability to evolve.

This problem comes from ESPN’s increasingly liberal stance. Yes, it is good to stand up for what you believe in, but many people do not like that. First and foremost, ESPN is a company based on sports, so when anchormen and women veer off topic and discuss their political views, they start to muddle the station’s purpose, which is the one thing that separates them from other news. They are a sports-based network with live updates and around the clock news, but nowadays that’s not enough as more and more websites, apps, and other news sources are speeding up as ESPN is slowing down. ESPN has had an inability to adapt and evolve and it’s now starting to come back and hurt them.

“There’s just no future in it,” Keith Olbermann a longtime anchor on SportsCenter referring to ESPN’s long running program SportsCenter. What was once the face of the network has now turned into its own worst enemy. SportsCenter has lost the ability to connect to the next generation. SportsCenter’s main focus is providing highlights and up-to-date news. Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, this was valuable, but nowadays when people can find scores, stats, and highlights at the push of the button, SportsCenter serves no purpose.

So when Disney, the owner of ESPN, puts over a million dollars into renovating the studios, it’s essentially throwing money down the drain. This money could be used to find new ways to reach the next generation of consumers, but ESPN would rather fall back into the nostalgia of the 90s then move on to the future.

There’s still a chance for ESPN to right the ship. The best way for them to do this is by cutting out the middleman (cable) and switching to a primarily internet live streaming similar to what Netflix and Hulu have done. This would make their services subscription based, so it can lower costs and jump ahead of other sports companies. By having subscription based services this will allow ESPN to collect 100% of its revenue instead of having to give a percentage to the different cable companies that broadcast the network. This will also help them connect to a newer generation of viewers.

Cutting costs is only part of the turnaround plan. In order for them to get back to their place on top, ESPN needs to capitalize on a fundamental platform: the internet. The money that ESPN is funneling towards SportsCenter can be funneled to developing new apps and renovating their website to appeal to old and new subscribers. If they can develop a new way that can revolutionize the way we view sports entertainment, ESPN will not only survive but thrive.

It’s important to strike while they can before other sports entertainment companies can catch up and take over ESPN before it loses its stronghold on the sports entertainment industry.