‘SportsCenter’ anchor says political coverage is behind ESPN’s loss of viewers, mass layoffs

If you like the crossover of sports and politics, you’re on the website that’s meant to focus on that content.

If you don’t, you might be one of the many ESPN fans that have stopped watching the network in recent years according to SportsCenter host Linda Cohn. She cites the network’s increased political coverage as a contributing factor to the rash of employee layoffs this week.

“That is definitely a percentage of it. I don’t know how big a percentage, but if anyone wants to ignore that fact, they’re blind,” she said.


ESPN lost more than a half a million subscribers to close out 2016, and the layoffs have come en masse. Nearly 100 people lost their jobs in a surprise announcement from the sports giant Wednesday.

Cohn says that the network’s coverage of certain events over the last year – Colin Kaepernick’s protests, Caitlyn Jenner winning the ESPY “Courage” award – have turned the network’s fans away. The veteran host didn’t go so far as to trash the network that fired many of her friends and colleagues, but you can tell she’s torn.

“You know, when you work for a big company, you have to follow in line, you have to pay the bills,” she said. “But you just kind of look in the mirror and do what you think is right no matter what else is going on around you. And that’s what I always tried to do.”

Here at The Sport Lobby, we obviously take the approach that sports and politics go hand-in-hand. We seek to explain those ties through the lens of the powers that be. However, ESPN’s foray into political coverage is naturally expected to irk some folks who have come to expect the standard of sports coverage that they themselves set and that everyone else is trying to emulate.

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