From Jeff Reynolds at PJMedia,
This new report comes mere months after a report showing that ESPN is losing subscribers at an alarming rate. In November 2016, ESPN lost over 600,000 subscribers, its worst month ever. ESPN has historically been a workhorse performer, one of the most successful cable channels of all time. Driven by live events, previously unavailable sports updates, an offbeat delivery, and compelling content, ESPN reached must-watch status and stayed there for a couple of decades. At the height of their popularity, in 2011, ESPN was available in over 100 million homes. A few years ago, however, the tide began to ebb. As of December 2016, that number had dropped to 88.4 million — a steady, inexorable decline.
This has resulted in a precipitous drop in ad revenue at ESPN and its corporate parent company, Disney. This is what is driving the next round of layoffs.
A number of factors play a role but one naturally wonders about the recent drift into social justice warfare:
One of the most vocal critics of ESPN’s embrace of progressivism is Clay Travis, a national radio host on competitor Fox Sports Radio. Travis is no conservative himself, having worked on Al Gore’s presidential campaign in 2000. Travis has nonetheless been relentless in his criticism of ESPN in both his on-air broadcasts and on his blog, Outkick The Coverage. He wrote in February that “ESPN decided to become a social justice warrior network, treating all liberal opinion makers as those worthy of promotion and casting aside all those who had the gall to challenge the new Disney world order. ESPN became MSESPN.” Or as a friend of mine puts it, they have become ES(JW)PN. When you alienate half of your potential consumers, why should you expect their uninterrupted loyalty? More.
Reality check: Progressives thrive better in government monopoly media than anywhere else and, where they gain power, they will simply eliminate the loyalty factor. But in the case of a sports channel, the growth of in-house progressivism absent any market demand suggests other underlying economic weaknesses, such as the ones Reynolds notes.
See also: Are Hollywood’s wounds self-inflicted? As noted earlier, when Hollywood types started demanding that we all listen to them rant, they were competing with every bore on the planet. No wonder their financial fortunes are tanking. Failing to understand their situation, they did it when the digital universe makes them just one alternative among many. If they haven’t figured all that out by now, they are just not going to pull out of their dive.