Is ESPN Trying to Win Back Conservatives With New Hank Williams Deal?

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By Joe Simonson | 2:36 pm, June 5, 2017
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In the wake of various reports that its bleeding conservative viewers over its alleged liberal bias, ESPN reportedly rehired Hank Williams Jr. for the network’s Monday Night Football coverage.

The sports juggernaut discontinued using a Williams’ “All my Rowdy Friends Are Here on Monday Night” for the beginning of its Monday Night Football coverage after he clumsily compared President Obama to Hitler during an appearance on Fox & Friends. Williams Jr. subsequently apologized and continued being a vocal critic of the Obama administration.

Hank Williams, Jr. performs onstage during the American Country Countdown Awards. (Getty Images)

In a reversal, Williams has recorded a new version of the song that will debut on September 11, before a game between the New Orleans Saints and the Minnesota Vikings.

“It was the original,” Druley told The USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee. “It belongs to Monday Night Football. It really is about returning to what fans know. It’s a Monday night party and that’s what we’re all hoping to get back to,” Stephanie Druley, ESPN’s senior vice president of events and studio production told The USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – FEBRUARY 05: A view of the logo during ESPN The Party on February 5, 2016 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images for ESPN)

A study by Deep Root Analytics concluded that television viewers who self-identify as conservatives or Republicans were no longer watching the network.  Over the past five years, ESPN has lost 10 million subscribers and have announced a number of talent layoffs in reaction to dwindling advertising revenue.

“I’m sure there’ll be some [backlash about Williams], but I’m not concerned. It was the right time. We discussed it internally and it was just the right time to bring him back,” Druley said.

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