With the advent of Fox Sports 1 and NBCSN and their aspirations to climb the mountain and challenge ESPN, it's easy to forget just how tall that mountain is. It's not just climbing Mount Everest, it's trying to climb Olympus Mons. Check that, it's like building your own rocketship, conquering a manned space flight to Mars, and then climbing the largest mountain in the solar system.
In other words, challenging ESPN is really $#%ing hard.
Your latest reminder comes in the ratings data for the 5 PM talk show block where PTI and Around the Horn have been staples for a decade. According to John Ourand of SBJ, ratings are actually down for those two ESPN flagship shows this year. PTI has fallen from 1.3 million viewers in the fall of 2010 to 961,000 this fall. Similarly, ATH has fallen 943,000 to 763,000 viewers. However, ESPN folks point to the rise in DVR viewership and streaming/mobile viewership that they believe more than makes up the deficit.
In comparison, Crowd Goes Wild on FS1 is averaging 64,000 viewers.
Pro Football Talk on NBCSN is averaging 47,000 viewers.
That means PTI has 15 times the viewership of FS1 at the moment and 20 times the viewership of NBCSN at the same timeslot. That's not just a healthy lead for ESPN. That's like Usain Bolt running a match race against Ted Washington and Keith Traylor. Fox Sports 1 talked a big game when they launched and they would have to double their audience four times over to reach PTI audience levels at 5:30 PM ET.
What's more, FS1 and NBCSN are even registering viewership levels behind the routinely panned Intentional Talk on MLB Network at 72,000 viewers. These two networks have found the quest for viewers much mroe difficult than imagined. Perhaps viewers will gradually come as their live sports portfolios continue to improve. Nevertheless, this is just one fact that points to this truth - it's going to take a generation or more for either network to even begin to reach ESPN's stratosphere of viewership levels.
College football and baseball nights are the only things I watch on ESPN anymore. It's gotten ridiculous. First Take spent the entire football season last year having multiple segments a day on a quarterback who started ZERO games and saw usually no more than 5 plays a game. With Tebow out of the league right now it's RG3, Brady, Romo, LeBron, Rodgers, SEC. Rinse, repeat. A couple days ago on First Take with Game 6 of the WS coming apparently it wasn't discussed until their Quick Takes segment of the show with 5 minutes left for about 20 seconds. The network serves agendas and beats the NFL and NBA down your throats. Minus Reali, ATH is nothing more than journalists with massive egos in my opinion minus Cowlishaw. And I grew tired of PTI years ago.
Admittedly I watch Around The Horn and PTI (more so Around The Horn) but that's largely because The Crowd Goes wild sucks. I was willing and ready to try out FS1 but they just can't compete. That said I actually like Fox Sports Live much better than Sports Center. They just need to do a better job on the original programing front.
That's all fine and good. When is the Quality going to improve?
PTI lost 400K viewers, while the other two shows picked up 110K. Where did the other 300K go? And don't tell me all went digital.
ESPN lost 10% of it's audience to the competition. They lost another 33% all together.
That tells me that people are tired of the format, the announcers, the tired topics, etc. Or they have cut the cord or tired of the four-letter network all together, outside live programming.
@JoneZDL33 says: College football and baseball nights are the only things I watch on ESPN anymore. It's gotten ridiculous.
And then we get a detailed breakdown of what happened on First Take on one day and a summary of what is discussed on the program over an unspecified period.
So, which is it? Do you watch or not?
If not, do you pay somebody to give you a breakdown?
@sir boxington I watch NHL Live on NHL Network instead of random basketball and football jibber-jabber on ESPN.
@sir boxington I think the ratings fall has a lot to do with better specialized coverage elsewhere. What is the point to listening to the PTI guys discuss games they admit they don't watch half the time. If you want solid NBA coverage there are plenty of podcasts that actually cover the games. PTI/Around the Horn is talk radio on TV, nothing but chiches and narratives.