Why ESPN sucks

  • ESPN has turned into something abhorrent, with a focus on negativity and drama, and heavy biases towards certain programs. Here we elaborate on their issues and discuss reasons why.

    Here’s something someone wrote from 2015 about why ESPN sucks.


    That’s old news now, but I am curious… ESPN knew in 2015 that their subscribers were down 7.2% since 2011. Of course this fueled the onward march into on demand sports and mobile, and now the relationship with sling TV and move to a la carte… But how much has this shaped their story arcs? Do they deliberately look for tragic heroes of the white variety? Do they downplay the success of good teams in small markets? While we obviously have speculated about this and certainly the proof is in the product, unfortunately that data is mostly qualitative. Is there someone who has quantified the number of times Duke is mentioned in other teams broadcasts? Is there leak about the story line decision making? a smoking gun?

    Also, there is a decent Wikipedia article out there with criticisms of ESPN. Maybe we can elaborate a little there on our concerns. I saw that they said ESPN was biased toward Kentucky and Calipari for instance. I wonder if we might be able to illustrate a connection between Nike, Duke, and ESPN and add something about the love for Duke. It seems a bit silly that they’ve called out Kentucky but not Duke, as they’ve been sweet on Duke since Laettner. Im curious why that is not already in the article.


  • 11% year over year revenue loss this year… higher production costs, less advertising revenue:


  • I struggle with the bias towards Kentucky and Duke thing to be honest. I don’t need anecdotal evidence, in other words, “I heard Dicky V praise Duke all the time”. In this sort of academic discussion, give me facts. It seems like they’re sweet on Duke, but are they really? Convince me and I’m a buyer!

    I can’t comment more right now about why I think ESPN sucks, but I will later!

  • I have an alternate premise (not mutually exclusive)… This was from a Duke forum in a thread entitled “Why I hate ESPN” …

    I believe that ESPN respects viewership ratings and money. As long as people are going to tune in to watch Duke play (even if they are hoping to see us lose), ESPN will continue to show our games. Lots of haters think ESPN loves Duke because they show our games. It’s the ratings they love not Duke basketball. How the broadcast is edited and what the announcers say will paint the real picture…they don’t like us (hello Len Elmore). At the same time, as others have mentioned, I’ll take the passive aggressive shots against us in trade for being able to see all our games on TV.

    Nothing new, but maybe part of the problem is that by nationalizing coverage of regional sports, a company with a monopoly on sports has shifted it’s primary audience from the fan to the hater. Recognizing that the majority of the country will hate Grayson Allen, they pump out a brand of faux regional homerism to a national market knowing that it will receive the polar opposite reaction.

    Maybe this wasn’t their original intention, it just morphed into this from east coast regional coverage roots? Maybe their dependency on hate is something they can’t cut, despite an awareness of it being a problem, like advertising. Maybe they never investing in enough local writing talent for each team, having spent the majority of their money on coverage contracts, equipment, infrastructure, and consolidated staff that loosely resemble regional biases but usually only really appreciate specific teams (as most people are prone to do. Ex Fran ❤ Oklahoma, so he’s the big 12 guy). Is there a path out of the darkness for ESPN?

  • @approxinfinity ESPN is a business. They are driven by revenue, which is based on advertising, driven by viewership. Being biased in a way that favors viewership earns them more money. The Duke fan was right.

    The path out of the darkness, for us, is to increase the number of KU fans who will watch KU on ESPN. Shift the bias towards us. Or encourage more people to move to the midwest, Big 12 country, so there’s a bigger market and more advertising revenue to be gained. Even coverage and fair play have nothing to do with it, unfortunately. It’s lovely to think about, but unlikely to succeed. 3.5 billion years of evolution has selected for individuals acting for their own self benefit.

  • @tundrahok if viewership is declining with their current formula, something systemically has to change with the way they cover sports. I was suggesting that they might consider that improved regional coverage could draw people back. Sometimes operating in an egalitarian manner can also be in one’s self interest.

  • More on ESPN now that I’ve got a little time. My 95 thesis of ESPN.

    1. They focus on football all year. This is personal, I don’t mind football in its season. But they’ll be running programming starting probably this week or next what each NFL team needs.

    2. They tolerate baseball. As long as it doesn’t interfere with football they’re fine with showing baseball. But, how does a network that televises baseball all season not want to broadcast any postseason games?

    3. When they do show baseball, the only time I can ever hope to see the White Sox play (my favorite team) is if they play the Yankees or Red Sox. I know the Sox have sucked for a while, but even when they were good, until 2013, they were rarely featured.

    4. They show too much east coast baseball.

    5. They show too much east coast basketball, I think.

    6. Their highlight shows feature too many east coast teams.

    7. Their highlight shows feature too much football.

    8. Their programming, and we ALL know this one, as do every Central timezone team, is geared towards showing the entire game of the east coast teams that begin at 6 oclock central, and run into our game probably half of the time at least. KU fans are not the only fans who experience this.

    9. They own the SEC network. They have a poll in both major college sports. Can they slant those polls towards SEC teams? You bet. They can’t force voters to vote certain ways, but they can talk higher of SEC teams than they deserve. Alabama this year is a nice example. They obviously are a great team, but we were hearing things like best ever and things like that about Alabama. Well they lost to a one loss Clemson team that had that one loss at home to middling Pittsburgh. No I don’t think Bama was one of the best ever. But the network that controls polls and viewers eyes and dollars wanted you to think so.

    10. But here’s the rub. We’re all dependent on ESPN. We watch it for our team(s). We complain but we’re still watching. They show a lot of KU obviously. And Kentucky, and Indiana, and Arizona, and Duke and UNC, etc. We watch and comment on their excellent documentaries. We tolerate Sportscenter for the few moments they talk about our team.

  • @approxinfinity Good point. It’s an issue with television in general. Increasing options for electronic entertainment have hurt TV viewership and revenue. The whole industry is declining. Putting every single game online, so people could choose games to watch that they are most interested in, might work. They just need to figure out a way to make that profitable. Maybe get schools to film their own home games, and pay ESPN for the feed? A lot of us mute the broadcast anyway. We don’t need no stinkin’ announcers!

  • You know, I didn’t dig into the Mark Cuban story too much earlier this year, when he banned two reporters. From what I gather, he didn’t have a problem with the reporters, rather the opposite. He did it to protest increased automated coverage of his team. I wonder along those lines, if ESPN, facing rising production costs, having to shell out for massive contracts, and having thin profit margins, might do away with their own content entirely, or outsource it regionally, allowing for voice overs on their video by whomever wants to pay a small fee, while still retaining all advertising revenue, and see if someone else can do their job for them, while they focus entirely on infrastructure and retaining the big contracts, something we can all agree they are good at.

    Also, I wonder if they will just start inventing their own sports and tournaments and locking in contracts with sports before they are big, then growing them with coverage. (Ex ESports)

  • @approxinfinity said:

    Also, I wonder if they will just start inventing their own sports and tournaments and locking in contracts with sports before they are big, then growing them with coverage. (Ex ESports)

    The Netflix model! Start generating content, not merely broadcasting it. Might work.

  • There was a recent story about ESPN in regards to the 1 playoff Football game they got between the Raiders/Texans. ESPN paid an absurd amount of money to get 1 game and the projection was they would lose an absurd amount of money.


    Googled it real quick and find they will lose $75 million. How can anyone be happy about that or stand to lose that much money. Something has to change.

    To further dive into the topic I started losing respect for ESPN and in particular Sports-Center when the highlights were no longer the most important part of the show.

    If there is a scandal/controversy/anything negative going on in sports that is their #1 story for days/sometimes weeks. Not only does it become a center piece of Sports-Center we get all the afternoon programming from outside the lines to pardon the interruption talking about the same 5 things while regurgitated by different sports writers. It gets old really quick hearing the same content, none of its original anymore.

    Tell me how good Skip Bayless was for ESPN. One controversy after another. Maybe he did drive viewership up because all he did was use his mouthpiece to disrespect Lebron James or whatever other star he felt like attacking. It should never be okay for the “world-wide leader in sports” to have its most outspoken people bad-mouthing the athletes that give them a job in the first place, or the countless millions of young kids that are looking up to these guys as role-models etc. Steven A Smith is just as bad, how fun can it really be for the average sports fan to want to listen to his constant mouth all day every day.

    Getting a little off that current topic, ESPN has clearly made bad business moves to get where it’s at. It almost reminds me of the Blockbuster/Netflix situation. Blockbuster held the market for so long but Netflix saw the long term vision and look how that has worked out for each. I think ESPN missed the long term vision in how people would like to view sports, got too big to change with the market, especially how social media and streaming media has taken over. The ESPN app has been a great addition, something I use almost every day but still ESPN is missing what it can capitalize on. It also sounds like ESPN has alienated cable television providers by slapping more costs to them because of lost subscribers. That’s how you lose even more viewers when you blame others and squeeze the middle men and the trickle down affect is more costs to the consumers.

  • @wissox good points, all. I vaguely remember having WGN with my basic cable growing up in the 90s in DC. Weren’t the White Sox on there as well as the Cubs? I remember thinking it was cool having WGN and having braves on TBS as strange alternatives to the Orioles. I don’t remember watching Boston or NY games in DC back then. What was up with that? Were the Cubs and or White Sox in any way trying to go national back then or just happenstance that we had WGN? I know Ted Turner wanted the Braves to be America’s Team.

  • @BeddieKU23 you’re right, 75 million loss for a Texans-Raiders game is obscene. Whats the point?

    Agree that making cable tv pony up to offset viewer attrition is stupid.

    Furthermore, running ads for horror movies in the middle of a day game sends a message to parents of little children that they don’t give a damn about your kids, as long as the ad money is flowing.

  • If you still don’t believe ESPN openly favors the ACC, look at its current BPI ranking where 4 out of he top 7 teams are from the ACC. No other poll, human or computer, is even close…unbelievable…


  • @approxinfinity said:

    running ads for horror movies in the middle of a day game sends a message to parents of little children that they don’t give a damn about your kids, as long as the ad money is flowing.

    Not unique to ESPN. How about Fox now showing the latest 24, among the most intense and violent tv shows with considerable adult themes involving threats of imminent catastrophe, at 8 ET/7 CT? Anyone want their kids watching that unsupervised during “family hour”?

    Heck, my wife is fretful about me watching it!

  • We have to remember that teams like Duke do receive big ratings… not because they are so loved, but hated. 49% of D1 viewers HATE Duke! Yes… Duke is #1!

    People want to watch Duke and UK games because they hate the school, coaches, and some of the players. Players like Grayson Allen create more hate followers than positive followers.

    TV marketing wonks don’t care if the viewer is watching because they hate a team, player or coach. They only care that they are watching.

    Dollars decide a big chunk of this. The rest is about helping build a school’s brand with either hate or love by giving them more attention than the rest.

    Kansas isn’t polarizing enough to get that extra viewership bump.

  • @approxinfinity the Sox never were on WGN until the 2000’s if I remember correctly. Maybe it was earlier. But most people think of WGN and Cubs of course. Until about 3 years ago I could get Sox, Cubs and Bulls on WGN. Then they screwed it up, not even Chicago news.

  • @drgnslayr

    I have worn KU gear all over the country and a lot of people are familiar with KU and its Jayhawk mascot and they usually have a good opinion of KU. I cannot think of anyone. other than in Missouri, that ever said anything negative about KU.

  • I live In MA When espn launched Espn3 and I was able to see pretty much every KU game all season, and if I couldn’t see them live, watch them as replays on their app, it was a life changing gift to me. And no extra season fee. Priceless.

    Are they changing for the worse? Probably… and yes I do agree that their flagship show -sports center, does seem to show less highlights and more talk between smug precious anchors.

    Speaking of apps, I was a regular daily viewer to SI.com, (love their writers) then they changed their look and my iPad choked on it… wouldn’t load, did strange things. I’m guessing a vast majority of Americans access SI on their mobile devices, and having a really good interface with them is the future, so WTF??

    now I go to ESPN daily to get my sports info. It’s not super viewer friendly but it loads quick and I can get info quickly.


  • @Bosthawk Same experience with SI! I hate their interface! It used to be so good for both my PC and my phone. Now it is crap, as is CNN’s front page. Too many hidden videos, too many sponsored pages.

    I use the NBCSports baseball and bb sites for updates in those sports. Some interesting bloggers. ESPN has too many Insider links for me.

  • @JayHawkFanToo If that list doesn’t prove what a steaming pile of poo that ESPN really is, then I don’t know what does. Nice find.


    It was front page at the ESPN web site when it was released a couple of days ago.

  • @JayHawkFanToo I got a couple of “Rock Chalks” in the Bahamas last month! God love em.

  • @nuleafjhawk Got some “Rock Chalks” in Hawaii, and in at least 2 airports on my trip!

  • I turn on ESPN to watch a specific game, then turn elsewhere. No longer watch any other programing there for most of the reasons you have all mentioned but mainly because the people they have are basically annoying. When I watch a game on ESPN i often have a radio station on to hear play by play even if they are out of sync as the espn announcers are so bad. I would like to think they can get their ducks in a row but at this point I find it unlikely.

  • @approxinfinity The Yankee baseball games were on WOR cable channel. They also had the Mets.

  • @BeddieKU23 You hit the 2 biggest idiots, although Bayless ranks as the dumbest ever. He makes Vitale look like Einstein. I could make a case that Jim Rome is just as dumb.

  • The east coast bias is easily seen. I think the Grayson Allen deal and the 10 near misses are just to talk about duke. The bpi is a total F***in joke. The main reason I don’t like ESPN lately is the gosh darn political BS. You fired several guys for having conservative views but praise guys with left wing views (I’m independent, they’re all liars). I try not to watch because of these reasons unless we play. This is why I hope a mid west team wins the title in everything outside of being a fan of the royals and Jayhawks. I honestly think it hurts recruiting. I personally don’t buy the Nike deal because if that’s what it took we would be back to Nike really fast plus some of these East coast guys are adidas.

Log in to reply