The 2022 ESPY Awards averaged 2.5 million viewers Wednesday night on ABC.
This is the first year since 2019, when it averaged 3.8 million viewers. that the award show aired in its regular mid-July Wednesday time slot.
Now, ESPN PR will tout this number to say it’s up year over year. While true, this inevitable spin-job will take the number out of context. See, ABC broadcasted the event last year out of place on a Saturday night, the poorest night of the week.
This year’s version was always going to top a year that aired on a Saturday in July — no matter the interest.
(In 2020, ESPN — not ABC — carried the show in June as a pre-recorded special during the pandemic.)
Head-to-head competition bludgeoned the ESPY Awards starting at 8 pm. Big Brother — yes, that’s still on — averaged 3.5 million viewers, while NBC toppled the ESPYs throughout the night with its Chicago franchise.
By the way, why can’t Chicago Med tie up a storyline? Do it, just once.
As for buzz, far more people are talking about the epic Barbed Wire Everywhere Death Match between Eddie Kingston and Chris Jericho on AEW Dynamite than the award ceremony.
To be fair, the match was pretty awesome:
— Chris Jericho (@IAmJericho) July 21, 2022
The ESPY Awards were once a date that sports fans circled on the calendar. In 2015, 7.7 million viewers tuned in. The program is now dull and full of preachy athletes and commentators.
ESPN is now a toxic brand. Sports fans see an event marked with ESPN branding and tune out. ESPN no longer celebrates sports. The ESPN brand has wrapped itself in political messaging to the chagrin of former fans.
The network’s coverage of topics like abortion is indistinguishable from MSNBC. Talk about a downward trajectory.
Ultimately, viewers don’t trust ESPN to award winners on merit. Megan Rapinoe taking home a trophy over far more worthy nominees only furthered that suspicion.
The ESPY Awards are a waste of time. And of that 2.5 million, probably about 2 million of them had ABC on in the background at 8 pm and didn’t know what was on the screen.
Expect next year’s number to drop even further.