ESPN’s problem is that what was good isn’t needed anymore. Then they tried to fix that problem with crap no one wants to see. The old school Sports Center is something every sports fan needed, and couldn’t get in full anywhere else. Even if it had been a bland reading of scores and stats with highlights in the background people would have watched it. It filled a void.
These days there are other channels that can do the same like FS1, MLB, TV, NFL Network, etc. On top of that you can catch every highlight, within minutes of it taking place, on the internet. Obviously actual games will always draw viewers, but the other programming is ugly. Even 10 years ago I started disliking the shows offered, but now everything on there is terrible. With no need for Sports Center and no interest in original programming I only watch games and lately I haven’t even seen games on to watch personally. Most NBA playoff games have been TNT and I’ve been watching MLB games on MLB TV. On top of all of this they have tossed aside some of online content that I liked (obviously why I’m here) to the point that I deleted ESPN.com from my bookmarks 2 years ago and haven’t stopped by since unless directed there by a link.
ESPN would probably be best off dropping down to one channel and running an alternate channel or two for games. They would probably do just fine with Sports Center three times a day surrounded by live games and repeats of live games (or classics). Do away with the loud mouthing opinion stuff based on nothing and stick with scores and stats. Watching Quick Pitch on MLB TV or Game Time on NBA TV is night and day with what they show on Sports Center these days. There is a way out, but not the way they are headed. The hole is just getting deeper.