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ESPN

The top dog in sports broadcasting is losing steam amidst internal issues.

Photo illustration by Greg Diaz

Photo illustration by Greg Diaz

Kayce Contatore, Assistant Sports Editor

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The self-proclaimed “Worldwide leader in sports,” ESPN, looks to be falling from fans good graces.

As the long time go-to mecca of any and all sports information, ESPN has had more blunders than blessings as of late.

With the closing of Grantland, laying off 300 employees due to loss of subscribers and the “mutual departure” of sportscaster Bill Simmons, ESPN is slowly losing its grip as the leading sports network.

One of the first in a long line of mistakes that have plagued ESPN the past few months was the departure of Simmons, who was not so coincidently the co-founder of Grantland. The relationship between Simmons and ESPN president John Skipper has been rocky at best for the past seven years. In a statement released by Skipper, he states that the company decided not to renew Simmons’ contract and claimed that ESPN would remain “committed to Grantland.”

That clearly did not happen.

Just five months after Simmons was no longer with ESPN, the network closed down the Grantland offices; just nine days after it was announced that the company would lay off 300 workers.


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ESPN does not have their priorities in check. Instead of supporting the 8,000 worker staff, they decided that airing one football game a week on their network was more important.

The company spends $1.9 billion alone just for Monday Night Football. Fox sits in second spending $1.1 billion for an entire slate of Sunday football game rights.

ESPN stated that it decided to end the four-year-old website to focus on future projects that “will have a broader and more significant impact across our enterprise.”

By future projects do they mean producing the same, typical content that everyone is used to seeing from ESPN?

Sure, ESPN was the first network to broadcast all sports, all the time, and we thank them for that. But at some point, it is time for a change. And that change shouldn’t have involved the loss of one of their most recognizable names in sports casting and someone who helped boost ESPN to the top of the sports world.

Who are sports fans supposed to watch now for all of their sports information? Stephen A. Smith? Skip Bayless? Does ESPN expect us to get anything out of watching shows like “Around the Horn” or “First Take?”

And with the loss of cable subscribers, other networks, such as NBC Sports and Fox Sports 1, are on the come up to grab a bigger share of the audience in sports broadcasting.

In only it’s second year of being a 24/7 sports network, Fox Sports 1 has made progressive changes to the programming, including a higher total number of sports as well as a wider variety compared to that of ESPN.

Fox Sports 1 broadcasts events such as UFC, NASCAR Trucks, Pac-12 and Big-12 football, Gold Cup soccer, Women’s World Cup soccer and the US Open for soccer. While Fox Sports 1 has grown in total viewership on a daily basis by 40 percent, ESPN has dropped 9 percent according to Forbes.

According to National Public Radio, ESPN is one of the most profitable markets owned by Disney. Out of all the sports networks in the industry, ESPN’s prices are the highest due to carrying events such as NBA, NFL Monday night games, MLB, World Cup soccer, U.S. Open Tennis and the Master’s Tournament.

ESPN costs on average $6.04 a month for nine channels that are all part of a cable bundle. Michael Nathanson of MoffettNathanson Research projected the un-bundled cost of ESPN to be about $36.30. If something were to ever happen to ESPN and they lose the bundled package with the cable networks, it seems unlikely that fans would continue to pay such an outrageous price for a faltering network.

And with the layoff of 300 employees, the last thing we need to see is ESPN charging consumers more. ESPN is trying to have it’s cake and eat it, and we shouldn’t let that happen.

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