2011 ESPY Awards Flop: Lowest Ratings Since 1995

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I didn’t watch the 2011 ESPY Awards this past Wednesday night and, apparently, neither did any of you.

According to SportsMediaWatch (and Deadspin) the latest incarnation of the sports world’s feeble attempt at their own version of the Academy Awards pulled in a mere 1.984 million viewers. That total is down a full 24 percent from 2010’s awards which pulled 2.611 million fans and 14 percent from 2009, when 2.3 million people tuned in. Since folks began to tabulate the ratings for this event in 1995, this year’s ratings were the most abysmal yet.

Here’s how SportsMediaWatch put the figures in perspective:

For some perspective, Wednesday’s United States/France Women’s World Cup match topped the event by 69% in viewership and 20% in adults 18-49.

Other shows to draw more viewers Wednesday include TV Land’s Hot in Cleveland (2.001M) and TNT’s Franklin and Bash (2.547M) — though both of those shows drew lower ratings in the adults 18-49 demo.

These numbers look all the worse when you consider the fact that while there is virtually no American sports alternative aside from baseball going on right now, 2010-11 has been arguably the most fascinating year sports in recent memory. Thanks to LeBron James, the NBA was a can’t-miss event any and every time it aired.

The NFL -- as always -- reigned supreme as the hottest act in town. The MLB, NHL, boxing and soccer all possessed intriguing storylines at some point in time over the last 365 days, so realistically, a show which recaps all of these memorable occurrences and highlights the best should have drawn a solid total of viewers.

But it didn’t. Perhaps people have finally come to terms with the fact that, for better or worse, ESPN’s commitment to preserving relationships with athletes, franchises and corporate sponsors has taken all of the interest out of their non-sporting event broadcasts. Maybe the reality of the situation -- that handing out awards to people who garner far more meaningful accolades in their own sports is a slightly futile exercise -- dawned on previously naïve, young sports fans.

It could be any number of reasons, really. Either way, as the MLB is quickly learning, football and basketball not being around to interfere with interest is no way a guarantee that the sports-loving community will tune in. If you don’t bring the intrigue and you don’t provide anything to look for, there are plenty of alternatives out there for people to waste their time on.

Perhaps it’s time for a hosting change. It’s probably safe to say, at this point, that Seth Meyers doesn’t exactly move the ratings meter anymore (or ever).

We hear James Harrison is available.


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