SportsCenter used to be must-see TV for the sports junkie.
Any hardcore fan has stories of binge-watching the program’s incessant reruns in the morning or evening. Fans even have their favorite co-anchor pairings like their favorite band lineups.
SportsCenter used to be a reprieve from the troubles of the day. Now, political discourse has invaded SportsCenter, and the returns aren’t good.
After a few months, SC6 (the new primetime SportsCenter program), has begun to tank in viewership.
As ESPN desperately tries to retool itself in the face of liberal hectoring, falling revenue, crashing ratings, and a loss of millions of viewers, the cable sports network launched what might be the perfect politically correct show. But, three months in, SC6 with Michael Smith and Jemele Hill is still a ratings loser.
After years of complaints by Republican and conservative viewers who feel that ESPN has become the home of liberalism instead of sports analysis, ESPN has continued its drive leftward, and its replacement for SportsCenter seems to be the network’s most obvious move to curry favor with a liberal, more urban audience.
SC6, presents an urban, big city feel with an opening sporting a hip-hop theme song and featuring hosts Smith and Hill dancing around each other. At one point, Smith even appears in a hoodie. The hosts are both outspoken about social and racial issues, and unsurprisingly lean to the left in their views.
Clearly, this show was created to appeal to a liberal audience: urban and youthful. But, three months into its history, SC6 doesn’t seem to be hitting its mark. Recently, TheBigLead.com took a look at the show’s ratings and found that its first few shows came in strong enough, but as the weeks progressed that support cratered.
“SC6,” Jason Lisk wrote after the show’s March debut, “is down 20% compared to the 2016 SportsCenter” ratings.
The protestations by network flacks haven’t stemmed the tide of center-right fans who are leaving the network in droves. Several recent reviews of sports fans seem to show that center-right fans are severing their ties with the 38-year-old cable sports network.
In one case, a recent poll of sports fans found that Republicans have lost confidence in the sports channel’s brand name, and just last week a review of viewers in a swing state market showed that center-right fans have stopped watching ESPN in large numbers.
If the ratings are any indication, SC6 is not saving ESPN from its continued downward spiral.
Despite denials from ESPN top brass that the network isn’t trying to push a progressive agenda, the proof is in the pudding. Here’s a snippet of the positions Smith and Hill have recently taken:
Smith said: “[W]e still don’t know how to talk about race. As much practice as we’ve had, people run away from it so much until we run into situations like this, people start to show their true colors, pun intended. This is not black versus blue. This is — saying that black lives matter does not mean other lives don’t matter. This is — Black Lives Matter is not anti-police, it’s anti-police violence. That’s simple, but there’s so many people who want to turn this into a debate rather than a dialogue, until the problem solving step can’t be achieved because we can’t agree what the problem is, and that’s a legitimate problem to begin with.”
Hill added, “[W]e need white athletes, white people, in general, to step up.”
And after the Orlando nightclub shooting, Hill tweeted:
So in a country where we have done everything possible to undermine the LGBTQ community, we are suddenly lecturing Islam on homophobia. Oh.
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) June 12, 2016
ESPN needs to go back to its roots and be the worldwide leader in sports, and only sports.
Nonpartisan sports fans deserve that courtesy.