Things look like they are going just splendidly in the world of sports in 2020.
In addition to having to deal with the public’s incessant fear of coronavirus (despite the fact that none of the scores of professional athletes in the U.S. that have tested positive have wound up visibly sick or in the hospital, let alone dead, from the virus), major professional sports leagues have also decided to play politics, injecting themselves into the heart of a nationwide racism uproar, instead of basketball and football.
In addition to ratings plunging for both the NBA and the NFL this year, the “get woke, go broke” results continue to take hold.
Now, ESPN is making another round of sweeping layoffs. It’s blaming the coronavirus, naturally, because it certainly can’t blame its own politicized discussions during almost every major sporting event it has broadcast over the last few months.
According to NJ.com, the network is trying to cut “tens of millions” in salary:
One source pegged the potential number of job losses between 300 and 700 employees. Another estimated 400 possible lost jobs. The cuts are expected to hit hardest among ESPN employees who work behind the camera. But some on-camera TV and radio talents could be impacted — particularly if their contracts are expiring this year. The network may also ask its highest-earning talent and executives to take a reduction in salary. The goal is to potentially cut tens of millions in salary, said sources.
The cuts come right after ESPN’s parent company, Disney, also announced a sweeping round of more than 25,000 job cuts days ago.
Additionally, recall yesterday, we pointed out that amidst a ratings plunge, the NBA is likely going to be pulling its BLM messaging from its courts and jerseys next season.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver appeared to confirm early this week that Black Lives Matter messaging will be pulled from the court and from players jerseys next year. According to The Blaze, Silver alluded to the messaging being removed despite the league being “completely committed to standing for social justice and racial equality.”
He said implementing the change is “something we’re gonna have to sit down with the players and discuss.”
He told Rachel Nichols of ESPN: “I would say, in terms of the messages you see on the court and our jerseys, this was an extraordinary moment in time when we began these discussions with the players and what we all lived through this summer. My sense is there’ll be somewhat a return to normalcy — that those messages will largely be left to be delivered off the floor.”
The NBA has seen its ratings (and likely its ad revenue) plunge to historic lows this year amidst the league’s decision to focus more on politics.
It appears that viewers are no longer interested in the political and social justice messages of the NBA but rather were tuning in for (believe it or not) actual basketball. As the balance of the league has tipped from less sport to more activism, viewers are tuning out.
We noted days ago that Game 2 of the NBA Finals saw a major collapse in viewers, with just 4.5 million people tuning in. This is down 68% from last year’s game two, which Outkick notes, “featured a team in Canada”.
In fact, the ratings made Game 2 the least watched NBA Finals game on record, dropping below the 7.41 Game 1, which was the lowest viewed finals opener in history.