It was a bloodbath at ESPN this week as they announced they were laying off a staggering 100 employees — many of them prominent writers and on-air personalities.
ESPN canned staff at various levels, from reporters to writers to on-air anchors. They cut employees across the board, but the losses will be felt the greatest within ESPN’s diminishing baseball crew and its all-but-gutted NHL crew.
The news comes as ESPN’s profits have been tanking. It’s been a steep decline for what was once the mightiest of cable networks.
The reasons for ESPN’s decline are numerous. Their business model is built on lucrative cable subscriptions which force cable companies to add $9 per month onto customers’ bills, regardless of whether they want ESPN or not. But cable has been losing subscribers as people increasingly cut the cord, and those losses have hit ESPN hard.
While cord-cutting is the main reason for ESPN’s steep decline, it cannot be ignored that their obsession with injecting liberal politics into sports coverage has also driven fans away from the network.
In recent years, ESPN has consciously decided to make their sports coverage a platform for left-wing politics. They have shifted their programming from highlights and sport analysis to “hot takes” from liberal hosts who lecture viewers on the “courage” of Caitlyn Jenner and Colin Kaepernick, make malicious attacks on Tim Tebow, and spend hours questioning whether Tom Brady should be friends with Donald Trump. ESPN’s ombudsman even admitted in December that the culture inside ESPN has become a hostile place for conservatives, who feel stifled and afraid to speak out.
Clay Travis, a personality on rival network Fox Sports 1, has gone so far as to speculate that the network has moved left so that its CEO, Robert Iger, can position himself to run for president as a Democrat in 2020. ESPN’s hard left turn has led viewers to seek alternatives like Fox Sports 1, which employs a number of centrist or right-leaning hosts, or MLB Network, which stays out of politics altogether.
In an era of constant partisan bickering, we should be able to set our disagreements aside and come together over the love of the game. ESPN’s agenda is hurting them badly — as well it should.
Photo credit: Rob Poetsch via Flickr, CC BY 2.0