The rivalry between ESPN and FS1 has been mostly one-sided in the Worldwide Leader’s favor, but there are signs that some things can get under ESPN’s skin. At the CAA World Congress of Sports on Wednesday, ESPN executive vice president of programming Burke Magnus accused Jamie Horowitz, the president of Fox Sports National Networks of taking a cheap shot at SportsCenter.

Horowitz said last year that ESPN should be worried about SportsCenter noting that its ratings had fallen 30% over the last five years and 40% with younger viewers.

Well Magnus was having none of it. He said Horowitz’s sentiments were “as ridiculous today as it was a year ago.

And Magnus was quick to point out that SportsCenter was all over the Aaron Hernandez suicide story Wednesday morning, even moving programming around on two networks to cover it:

“We’re the only ones in the business covering the story like that. We’re the only entity in sports media that’s heavily invested in journalism and project reporting,” Magnus said. “‘SportsCenter,’ first of all, is not a show. ‘SportsCenter’ is a brand.”

While Magnus was angry over Horowitz’s comments, there is still no denying that SportsCenter has lost almost one-third of its audience dating back to 2010 and the fall is even worse when you look at the younger demographics.

To combat the falling ratings, SportsCenter has tweaked the format to allow for more personality-driven shows hosted by Michael Smith and Jemele Hill at 6 p.m. ET and Scott Van Pelt at midnight. Plus there’s more discussion, interviews and fewer highlights. ESPN has its many daily editions of SportsCenter including a soon-to-be announced morning edition with Mike Greenberg while FS1 canceled its SportsCenter clone Fox Sports Live.

And while Magnus can be angry at his former co-worker in Horowitz, there’s no denying that SportsCenter is not the juggernaut that it used to be. First Take has taken over SportsCenter’s 10 a.m. ET slot on the Mothership while SportsCenter has gone to ESPN2 where its ratings have fallen significantly from last year.

SportsCenter is still a valued brand at ESPN, but the network has to know that Horowitz’s words have a ring of truth to them.

[Sportting News]

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang’s Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the three Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.

  • clayhughes

    the brand sucks, too much coddling of blacks dumbing down ingeneral and shoving black culture down white people’s throats, i’m glad they have the money they can tank for 10 years all while pushing a globalist, anti family, anti white agenda, but in the meantime, they’ll get crickets….

    • Matt

      It’s like SC6 turned into BET.

  • Bscotch Bscotch

    And how are the rebranded Sportscenters doing?

    • Tookie Clothespin

      Can’t speak for The Six but, the SVP version of Sportscenter was up about 6% year to year the last time that I checked. I don’t know the demo ratings but, those were also being reported as having increased.

  • MrBull

    Really embarrassing to see these executives ‘acting like 3 yr. olds’ over viewership and ratings….
    Espn will still draw more viewers then FS1, as matter of fact the number of viewers ESPN will lose will be higher then the numbers of viewers that actually watch FS1..

    • Matt

      Let’s talk when the live game content is the same.

  • Respected Citizen

    I just looked at last week’s averaged ratings. Highly Questionable has better numbers than every edition of SC.

  • Raymond Chuang

    And now, Horowitz–who was a high-level manager at ESPN for many years–will now be signing up a lot of people laid off at ESPN. Jayson Stark could immediately contribute to FS1’s MLB coverage, for starters.