If you haven’t tuned in to sports talk television lately, you’re not alone. Hardly anyone watches sports talk anymore. Supposedly popular shows like first take regularly attracts half the viewers of programs like dr. Pimple Popper and MAFS: After Party† We didn’t make up those names, they are real shows that people watch — and at much higher rates than they watch programs on ESPN.
The death of sports talk television has many causes, but one such cause is particularly striking: Twitter. Twitter has tricked television executives into making serious programming mistakes that fueled their viewers.
Because Twitter allows users and bots to retweet, like, and comment on tweets, blue-check accounts can make certain topics and opinions seem popular in America, even if they aren’t. For example, Twitter activity led sports executives to believe that viewers were tired of Chris Berman, that the NBA had overtaken the NFL in popularity, and that anyone without an active social media account had fallen into obscurity.
And Twitter engagement told the same decision makers that people want to hear more from Bomani Jones, Rex Chapman and Elle Duncan, three social media celebrities who have been made like living legends by Twitter.
None of that is true. Hardly anyone knows who these people are, and those who would like to know do not.
Years ago, ESPN thought that Bomani Jones’ Twitter brothers would soon tune into ESPN Radio so they could listen to him on the air in addition to his tweets. But they didn’t, and he got the lowest ratings in ESPN Radio history. But wait, execs then thought, they will follow him to television† New. His TV show Mid-day also drew the lowest ever ratings of a show on the network during that timeslot.
Now HBO is making the same mistake. HBO thought it could use Jones’ racist followers for new viewers. Here’s how that worked out:
Although following the acclaimed John Oliver, the debut of Race Theory with Bomani Jones lost 80% of Oliver’s viewers and averaged only 153,000 viewers. I love Lucy 4 p.m. reruns are more popular than Bomani Jones. Seriously.
Wow. No one has seen Bomani Jones’s new HBO show.
HBO aired Bomani’s show right after John Oliver’s to help with ratings. Still, Bomani lost nearly 80% – 80% – of Oliver’s average.
No one has ever failed like Bomani at ESPN and now HBO.https://t.co/MMhk3Rzbuc
— Bobby Burack (@burackbobby_) March 15, 2022
Far left note Rex Chapman is similar to Jones. He has 1.2 million Twitter followers and athletes often retweet him. That’s cool. Fellow blue checks call Chapman an influence, such as bikini models on IG. Chapman’s Twitter success has convinced CNN to give him a new streaming program on CNN+ and CBS/Turner to make him an analyst for the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
That experiment has been a disaster so far. On Saturday, Chapman paid tribute to Pete Gillen, the former Providence and Virginia coach. That’s all well and good, except Gillen isn’t dead. He’s alive. Gillen even works for CBS, the channel Chapman gave him a eulogy on. Watch:
Here’s CNN’s Rex Chapman on CBS talking about Pete Gillen’s death.
Um, Pete Gillen lives and works for CBS.
— Bobby Burack (@burackbobby_) March 19, 2022
CNN+ executives must have cowered when they saw that. While CNN+ hasn’t launched yet, it’s unlikely that Chapman will do better there than it has on CBS so far.
And this embarrassing gaffe isn’t Chapman’s biggest problem. There’s no other way to say it – he sucks on the camera. He is dry, slow, dull and lacks charisma. He is Adrian Wojnarowski without the good insights. Anyway, CNN will still charge $5.99 a month to watch it. So budget accordingly.
Then there’s Elle Duncan, who recently rose through the ranks at ESPN. How? Well, first she took advantage of #GirlDad after Kobe Bryant’s death. Now she usually takes to Twitter to call Western society racist and misogynist, which is ironic considering that a year ago she helped freeze Sage Steele from a special social justice, claiming that Steele “wouldn’t be accepted by whatever [those on Twitter] considered the black community.”
Because Duncan’s social media fame, ESPN has given her free rein to drop f-bombs and weigh in on topics she doesn’t understand.
Friday was one such example. Duncan interrupted a college basketball game to denounce an anti-nursing law in Florida to prevent adults from having inappropriate and harmful conversations with children. Critics have mistakenly called it the “Don’t Say Gay” law. Duncan is very upset that Florida teachers can no longer talk to young children about sex†
Here is @ESPN‘s Elle Duncan getting very upset that teachers can’t talk to very young children about sex and gender identity:
— Bobby Burack (@burackbobby_) March 18, 2022
These people are so creepy and should not be near school children.
Social media has fooled sports executives for years. Twitter told ESPN that sports fans wanted to hear about George Floyd and Jacob Blake, but they didn’t. Yet, networks fall for the trick time and again. Those targeting a Twitter audience are destined to fail almost as often as Bomani Jones. Here are some numbers:
The same Pew survey shows that Twitter users are D+15. If Twitter were a state, it would link Hawaii and Vermont as the most liberal in America. In addition, the 10% of Twitter users who post 92% of all tweets are D+43.
So Twitter has over-indexed a small, very liberal portion of the population, writing off the other “inactive” 92% in the process. That’s why sports shows aren’t popular on television, they don’t target a general sports fan base anymore. Talk about a disastrous business plan.
So we can’t just blame Bomani Jones for his failures or Rex Chapman for his clumsiness or Elle Duncan for her stupidity. We should also blame their bosses for the idea that they would succeed. There was more than enough evidence to show that they would crash in mid-air. The bosses did not heed the warnings.