By: Andrew McDermott
To say the least, today was a terrible day at ESPN for many reporters, anchors, analysts, and their respective families. ESPN made sweeping cuts nationwide, cutting close to 100 jobs within its organization. Names such as Ed Werder, Trent Dilfer, Jayson Stark, Pierre LeBrun, Danny Kanell and Scott Burnside were all let go this morning. Hockey coverage (what little there was) was absolutely gutted, and many college reporters and beat writers were let go as well. Even though they’ll find jobs, you have to feel terrible for them and their families as they go through this time.
Now that these firings have happened, many people are asking “what went wrong with ESPN?” The so-called “Worldwide Leader in Sports” looks to be bleeding as ratings take a tumble and subscribers drop along with the ratings. It’s pretty simple: the company no longer focuses on sports. As the years have gone on, ESPN has slowly converted to more of the entertainment coverage, and political opinions have seemed to appear more and more on the show. The blame is entirely on ESPN for focusing on what people don’t want to hear about. People want to tune into ESPN to get a roundup on the happenings in the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL. Instead, NHL is practically nonexistent (other than Barry Melrose getting 10 seconds of TV time), and the other sports coverage mainly focuses on:
- What LeBron had for breakfast
- What kind of toilet paper LeBron used
- What stupid phrase LaVar Ball spouted off today
- What book LeBron is currently reading
- Where in the world is Johnny Manziel? (Ball pit, lounging on an inflatable goose?)
- An 8-hour analysis of Grayson Allen tripping someone
- Any rumor of a Patriots cheating scandal
- A 9 hour special of NFL mock drafts, because we NEED to know who’s going with the 178th pick!
- What LeBron had for dinner
- LeBron’s latest injury (hangnail, game-time decision)
I’m sure you get the gist of that list: LeBron coverage and some things that just go on wayyyyyyy too long.
ESPN has also shifted a lot of focus onto politics this past year as well. I do believe that discussion of politics in sports can create a lot of dialogue in the country, and I understand that. But if you brand yourself as the leader in sports, stick to sports. Spending hours and hours on Colin Kaepernick kneeling isn’t something a lot of people want to listen to for an extended period of time. Politics should stick to FOX, CNN, and other outlets like that. Keep your coverage of events like that simple, and don’t overblow it. I’m not saying to ignore it at all. But it’s pretty simple: stick to sports. People want to see highlights and analysis of the different games that are going on. Look at MTV, who strayed away from music videos into entertainment. There is no music television on that channel, and there’s not much actual sports on ESPN anymore.
Another major reason is if people want coverage, they’ll go to MLB, NFL, or NHL networks. Those networks, you know, actually analyze and cover the sports they say they will.
If you’re ESPN, you’ve essentially dug your own grave talking politics and entertainment on a channel where there is supposed to be sports coverage a vast majority of the time. If you want viewers back, keep it simple! STICK. TO. SPORTS. Give us a rundown of the daily news and highlights to go with it. Cut the entertainment plugs 24/7. Cut the political talk. Keep it neutral, don’t push an agenda, and get down to the basics: reporting sports. That’s the recipe for success.