Max About: Analyzing ESPN’s Demographics

By: Max Tarlton

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As a television audience member for countless reality television shows, comedies, and teen dramas, the chances of coming across diversity on TV programming has been constantly growing. Different culture and ethnicities have started to become more prevalent in today’s media. The TV programs which I usually watch consists of reality television shows, entertainment news, and the occasional teen drama series here and there. I definitely stick to shows that are in my demographic. A network outside of my demographic, ESPN, was the network I chose to explore. Based on the history of ESPN, the hour-long show SportsCenter, and the demographics of the network, we will explore how ESPN expresses their diversity.

ESPN began in September of 1979 and has grown to be one of the major cable television network which focuses on sports-related news and programing. Throughout the past few decades, ESPN has been rapidly starting to included diverse men and women into it’s programming. Much like the united states, the network has an array of diverse sports news casters. The notable news anchors on ESPN have represented America fairly on SportsCenter were Robin Roberts, Suzy Kolber and Stuart Scott. All of whom started with the show in the early 90s. Interestingly, the demographic for the network has remained the same throughout the years- mainly men. After looking into ESPN and SportsCenter, I have found they represent diversity extremely well.

SportsCenter, which premiered the same year as the launch of the network, was the hour-long show I watched that was outside of my “normal” demographics. Through out the show, with hosts Lindsay Czarniak and John Anderson, and a couple other correspondents, the representation of diversity was very inclusive. Throughout the show they discussed the winning of  Danica Patrick who was the first female to win the Daytona 500, Rafael Nadal and his win after surgery, and commemorating the top 5 moments of Michael Jordan. All of whom are very diverse from one another. The impact of having a female news anchor really captivates the strong male audience ESPN targets.

The show, and the network, have a pretty solid demographic. According to ESPN, The average viewer is a 29 years old male with a very high interest in sports. Also, 87% of the viewers are college graduates and nearly 81% attend sporting events at least once annually. With a 94% to 6% ratio of men versus women, it’s clear to say that men dominate in viewership. This was definitely very interesting to see, considering how diverse the news anchors, and star athletes are. However, in retrospect, men are the major mass consumer of sporting events and sports entertainment.

Through watching the hour-long episode of Sports Center and doing research about ESPN, I’ve come to the conclusion, ESPN has a pretty fair balance of diversity. Though many of the commercials seem to be directly targeting adult male audiences, with shaving products, miscellaneous household products, and fast food commercials, it features many different looking people on the screen. ESPN represents the athletes and the fans by representing the audience of America as a whole. I feel that ESPN has represented diversity within the company for years while keeping up with the every changing looks of our society.

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