Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

ESPY ratings decline for second straight year

Alex Reimer
July 17, 2017 - 12:28 pm

The hype around the ESPYs seems to grow with each passing year. But the ratings tell a different story.

The ESPYs attracted 5.3 million viewers last week, according to Sports TV Ratings. Viewership numbers have declined for two straight years, falling dramatically from the 7.75 million people who tuned into the 2015 rendition, when Caitlyn Jenner received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. 

While it may be tempting to tie the ESPYs ratings to a larger commentary about ESPN’s business struggles, this is more of a story about the downfall of award shows in the DVR and social media era. The Oscars, for example, experienced a four percent drop in viewership this year.

The truth is, there’s little reason to invest three hours into watching the ESPYs live on ABC. Every notable moment, such as Kevin Durant’s definitely not staged reaction to Peyton Manning’s monologue, is shared online within moments. 

Thanks to Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services, the summer is no longer a dead period for TV, either. People are seemingly always watching at least one television show –– or a couple of them –– leaving fewer desperate channel flippers. 

Considering the mid-July programming alternatives, ESPN probably isn’t all that fazed with the ESPYs decline. And if the WorldWide Leader wants a viewership spark, it can always present Jenner with another award.


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