The diminutive behemoth of the one time cash cow, spurred by an insatiable sporting audience, and the unique prospect of profiting from the revenue of an organic monopoly, is now on the verge of a steep and costly downward trajectory towards the surface of mediocrity, and desperation is beginning to show as glaring cracks in the heat absorption tiles shielding the entity from ceaseless controversy.
As the architects of programming content at ESPN, chose to swap traditional highlight based sportscasts for human interest stories accented with a heaping serving of liberal guilt infused with rampart frenzy political correctness, viewership began to decline and the gold standard of Fortune 500 advertisers followed. The television conglomerate, once charmingly known throughout the community of hardcore sports fanatics, as the newsroom that literally “stalked” former NFL great Brett Favre, in barraging the hall of fame quarterback’s entire life with reporters, cameras and a continuing stream of coverage (not that Favre was complaining), went into a free fall of relative obscurity as the agenda of social justice nearly replaced the Favre-centric and sugar coated and overproduced, but lovable brand of Sportscenter. With the loss of content exclusivity, due to the wealth of available online options and the expansion of the device market, the network is now clawing at the low hanging fruit of clickbait to remain buoyant while covering the massive costs of overhead and dealing with the reality of a dearth in sustainable advertising revenue. Already, in enduring two recent rounds of massive layoffs to talent and staff, the end may be near for the golden age of sports television, as the company prepares for a possible parallel to the current nightmare as Saturday Night Live continues to wallow in mediocrity. (Hint- sports and politics do not resonate with an audience like the legendary combination of chocolate and peanut butter.
Using a bread and butter play from the collective obsession with an individual, ESPN has reached the bottom of the trench, in feverishly grasping at the final straws of resuscitation and allocating valuable resources into covering the sadistic roller coaster ride of sports dad of the year LaVar Ball and sons. With hints of the Kardashians and the worst that reality television to offer, the plight and drama of the bloated and boring wind bag, who in naive fashion compares the hood to the life shattering tidal flow of a Chinese prison in taking uber control of the careers of his sons, now dominates the newsfeed of the network, even as the NFL culminates in the final exciting weeks of the regular season and teams jostle for playoff spots. Calmly search for “LaVar Ball” on espn.com, and immediately the search algorithm instantaneously compiles 100 results, and there are hundreds more to reinforce the tawdry pyramid of the Bill Cosby-type diplomat of global hoops and illustrate the eerie and creepy groupthink infatuation of a commercial organization bestowed upon a listless cretin. The most disturbing aspect in witnessing the slow death of the brand name, is that the tourniquet of damage in resorting to the lowest common denominator form of audience pandering, may actually be temporarily staunching the flow of the millions of fans who are frenetically defecting to other avenues of receiving an instant sports fix. Whether or not this possibility is an indictment of ESPN or the audience, the reality is that the landscape of television is drastically changing as the prosperous winds continue to shift the focus towards the customizable end user experience of devices, and the ability to ignore the garish and painful antics of Ball. Well, at least until the North Korean military hacking experts effectively develops and distributes a “Ballware” virus which impregnates smartphones with streaming platform of “all Ball, all the time”.