ESPN Study Finds Politics Having No Effect on Viewing

ESPN has been looking into the way politics has affected its viewership, and the network’s latest research indicates little impact.

A survey conducted May 3-7 by Langer Research Associates for ESPN found that about 64% of those responding believed ESPN was “getting it right” in terms of mixing sports news and political issues. About 10% said they had no opinion, and 8% said ESPN does not cover enough politics in its programming.

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ESPN said the survey found that the portion of viewers who see political bias in ESPN programming is unchanged since the survey was last conducted in October 2016.

Since the presidential election, numerous press reports have tied ESPN's declining subscriber count and lower ratings for its studio shows to a left-wing bias, indicated in part by the number of women and minorities it employs as anchors.

In May a study by research company Deep Root Analytics that found that Republican viewers were disproportionately tuning out ESPN.

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In a blog post, ESPN said its study found that of those who see a bias, 30% said ESPN expresses a conservative viewpoint. And those who identify themselves as conservative or Republican rate ESPN higher than in October.

ESPN also noted that in 2016, for the third straight year, it was the highest-rate full-time cable network among adults and men in the 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54 age brackets.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.