ESPN recently fired over 100 employees with the same ruthlessness of the “national razor” campaign during the French Revolution. Nobody was safe over the span of a few tense days.
Despite market trends, ESPN had continued to expand too broadly over the past few years. The massive layoffs were a necessary cost-cutting measure as ratings dip and viewers “cut the cord.”
However, one name that survived the bloodletting may come as a surprise to some.
Tim Tebow will stay on as a commentator for the network.
From AOL News:
Tim Tebow has signed a “multiyear” extension to remain with ESPN as a college football analyst, the network announced on Monday.
Tebow has been with ESPN since 2014 when he was hired as the SEC Network’s first analyst. Tebow will continue to be a part of ESPN’s College Football Playoff coverage and as part of the SEC Network’s pregame show, “SEC Nation.”
According to ESPN, Tebow will still be free to pursue a career in baseball.
One must wonder if the move to retain Tebow is a token appeasement to conservative viewers as the network, despite denials, shifts further left.
ESPN’s political stance isn’t the sole reason viewership is dwindling, but it’s definitely a contributing factor when people are looking for any good reason to save money on their cable bill.
From an ESPN blog post by Jim Brady:
Thankfully, I get to write about ESPN, where the focus on sports means I never have to deal with politics.
Ah, if only that were true.
As it turns out, ESPN is far from immune from the political fever that has afflicted so much of the country over the past year. Internally, there’s a feeling among many staffers — both liberal and conservative — that the company’s perceived move leftward has had a stifling effect on discourse inside the company and has affected its public-facing products. Consumers have sensed that same leftward movement, alienating some.
There have also been concrete actions that have created a perception that ESPN has chosen a political side, such as awarding Caitlyn Jenner the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2015 ESPYS despite her not having competed athletically for decades, the company’s decision to move a golf tournament away from a club owned by presidential candidate Donald Trump and a perceived inequity in how punishments for controversial statements were meted out.
Inside ESPN, however, some feel the lack of tolerance of a particular political philosophy is a problem.
“We’ve done a great job of diversity,” said longtime ESPN anchor Bob Ley. “But the one place we have miles to go is diversity of thought.”
Many ESPN employees I talked to — including liberals and conservatives, most of whom preferred to speak on background — worry that the company’s politics have become a little too obvious, empowering those who feel as if they’re in line with the company’s position and driving underground those who don’t.
“If you’re a Republican or conservative, you feel the need to talk in whispers,” one conservative ESPN employee said. “There’s even a fear of putting Fox News on a TV [in the office].”
ESPN’s political stance seems like a flawed one when considering just how many conservatives are avid sports fans willing to boycott the network.
Banking hard left won’t bring in any new sports fans, but it appears to be alienating many of the ones ESPN already had. The worldwide leader in sports could be in trouble.
But if there’s one person who can save the spiraling network, perhaps it’s Tim Tebow.