Actually, most ESPN viewers don't think it has a “liberal bias”

ESPN commissioned a firm to survey its audience about its perceived liberal bias; some are drawing wrong conclusion

Published June 6, 2017 11:49AM (EDT)

 (AP/Jessica Hill)
(AP/Jessica Hill)

Conscious of all the hot takes about its alleged liberal bias, ESPN contracted a research firm last month to survey its audience about any political tilt in its programming. The results from the study should be considered a win for the sports channel.

Approximately two-thirds (64%) of respondents who took the survey indicated that ESPN had found the right chemistry between sports news and political issues, while only 30% claimed to have detected a political bias.

Of those who saw a bias, 30% percent actually believed that ESPN expressed a conservative viewpoint.

Viewers who identified themselves as strong conservatives ranked ESPN at 7.2 using a 1-10 scale, according to the survey. Liberals gave ESPN a 7.0 ranking. A score of 8.0 was considered “highly rated."

In a press release touting the results of the survey, ESPN's vice president of consumer insights Bary Blyn neglected to mention that of the viewers who saw a bias, 63% said that the sports channel swung too far to the left.

These answers certainly do not determine that a good portion of ESPN's audience senses a liberal bias, as suggested. Sporting News' Michael McCarthy, who astutely noted that ESPN's press release omitted the liberal bias statistic, was quick to write that the survey "in fact showed a subset of respondents, by a 2-to-1 margin, believe the network leans to the left politically." Buried later in McCarthy's piece, the sports writer acknowledges that this "subset of respondents" only made up less than 2 out of 10 surveyed — a mere 19% percent of the total.

For all the histrionics over ESPN's alleged liberal bias, the sports channel's main audience doesn't seem to mind.

By Taylor Link

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