This week, ESPN did Round Two of its layoffs and veteran researcher Howie Schwab became the face of those job cuts. An estimated 400 people will lose their jobs. In addition, ESPN announced that it was suspending operation of the flailing ESPN 3D due to lack of consumer interest. And quietly, two late night programs that had filled timeslots on ESPNews and ESPNU were canceled.
ESPN confirmed to the Hartford Courant that ESPNEWS' Highlight Express and ESPNU's UNITE were canceled and yanked from the schedule on Wednesday. A network spokesman told the Courant that both shows were being axed due to low ratings and at least for Highlight Express, the numbers speak for themselves. In February, Highlight Express registered a Nielsen rating of 0.0. As for UNITE, it had been rumored to be on the chopping block in the first wave of job cuts in May and finally met its maker this week.
ESPNEWS is running repeats of SportsNation, Numbers Never Lie and Outside the Lines in the 11 p.m. - 1 a.m. ET block where HIghlight Express had been. In place of UNITE, ESPNU is airing multiple repeats of College Football Live.
And while the cuts occur, ESPN continues to spend. There's the huge new digital SportsCenter set that will be housed in a 193,000 square foot building and will be unveiled sometime in 2014. Of course, ESPN also purchased the rights to the U.S. Open Tennis tournament and is preparing to launch the SEC Network. All of those costs money. To offset rising costs, companies sometimes sacrifice parts of their workforce and that is what is happening in Bristol.
Granted, networks can't keep low-rated programming on the air as it becomes a drain on the bottom line. Hopefully the staffs of both programs can be absorbed into other departments within ESPN.
No word if either program will be replaced or if ESPN will continue to air repeats to fill the timeslots.
SportsCenter has morphed into unwatchable, agenda driven drivel. Sports has become secondary to groupthink sensationalism, especially regarding non-sports race & sexual orientation issues.
Highlight Express often had terrible anchors and amateurish writing--Cole Wright, I'm looking straight at you--but it *was* all the highlights in 30 minutes, which was what SportsCenter used to be. It had a purpose and will be missed, by me at least.
@ja_bartlett Yeah, I'm with you. I personally preferred Highlight Express over SportsCenter. Now, ESPN has succeeded in SportsCenter-izing everything.
We'll now see what happens to ESPNEWS. Its very initial purpose has fallen by the wayside much like what's happened to HLN. Sure, the internet is a big reason, but it's still nice to have a nice wrapped package filled with everything one needs to know without having to sit through filler stories like SportsCenter tends to do at times. Maybe a low-budget 20 minute digital version of Highlight Express could be made under a different name.
@crippenstation @ja_bartlett Yep, this just pains me every time this happens to a cable network. The very nature of the network is now gone, like you said, just like HLN. It's hard to find a cable channel these days where the name of the channel matches up with the content on the channel. Most networks just put on whatever's cheap and appeals to the lowest common denominator.