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Old 10-29-16, 11:37 AM   #1
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ESPN Loses 621,000 Subscribers; Worst Month In Company History

Figured this was better here than Other.

http://www.outkickthecoverage.com/es...history-102916

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The biggest business story in American sports this fall isn't the declining NFL ratings or anything that's happening on the field, court, or ice, it's the collapse in ESPN subscribers, which reflect a larger trend in the collapse of cable subscribers in general.

Yesterday Nielsen announced its subscriber numbers for November 2016 and those numbers were the worst in the history of ESPN's existence as a cable company -- the worldwide leader in sports lost 621,000 cable subscribers. That's the most subscribers ESPN has ever lost in a month according to Nielsen estimates and it represents a terrifying and troubling trend for the company, an acceleration of subscriber loss that represents a doubling of the average losses over the past couple of years, when ESPN has been losing in the neighborhood of 300,000 subscribers a month.

These 621,000 lost subscribers in the past month alone lead to a drop in revenue of over $52 million and continue the alarming subscriber decline at ESPN. Couple these subscriber declines with a 24% drop in Monday Night Football ratings this fall, the crown jewel of ESPN programming, and it's fair to call October of 2016 the worst month in ESPN's history. But this isn't just a story about ESPN, the rapid decline in cable subscribers is hitting every channel, sports and otherwise. It just impacts ESPN the most because ESPN costs every cable and satellite subscriber roughly $7 a month, over triple the next most expensive cable channel.

Yep, if you have a cable or satellite subscription, whether you watch ESPN or not, you're paying ESPN over $80 a year.

What does ESPN do with that money?

It buys sports rights.

Presently ESPN is on the hook for the following yearly sports rights payments: $1.9 billion a year to the NFL for Monday Night Football, $1.47 billion to the NBA, $700 million to Major League Baseball, $608 million for the College Football Playoff, $225 million to the ACC, $190 million to the Big Ten, $120 million to the Big 12, $125 million a year to the PAC 12, and hundreds of millions more to the SEC.

The total costs? According to SNL Kagan ESPN is on track to pay $7.3 billion in total rights fees in 2017. That's more than any company in America.
This is pretty wild. Personally, I believe the mistake came from simple greed of thinking you could continue to increase the commercials (which use to pay for most of the programming) and people would never decide $100 a month wasn't worth it. Some networks are even playing with showing ads during shows similar to how ESPN runs scores at the bottom. My guess is it leads to more people leaving, not more revenue.

I got rid of commercial TV in February and haven't really missed it. I use to watch every NFL game and now I'll generally not watch any. Hell, two years ago I finally got my wife really into football and she is far more upset about not watching than I am. We actually watch at friends' houses more often. But we're no longer paying $120 a month for the right to watch commercials.
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Old 10-29-16, 11:43 AM   #2
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Re: ESPN Loses 621,000 Subscribers; Worst Month In Company History

That seems like a staggering number of subscribers lost.

I'll add that I'm another that cut the cord about a year ago. The only thing that kept me from doing it sooner was the loss of live sports, mainly ESPN. I haven't missed it too much.
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Old 10-29-16, 12:55 PM   #3
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Re: ESPN Loses 621,000 Subscribers; Worst Month In Company History

If you're only a NFL fan, you don't really need ESPN.

If you're a college FB or BB fan, it's a must. Simple as that.

If you're a MLB, NBA, or NHL fan, you're stuck with them because if you want the playoffs, you're not getting one w/o the other (NBCSN/TNT/Etc).

So I'm not sure what the point of this thread is except to say I'm a cord cutter. And I have no idea what "getting rid of commercial TV" means. Having only OTA means "commercial TV."
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Old 10-29-16, 01:07 PM   #4
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Re: ESPN Loses 621,000 Subscribers; Worst Month In Company History

They truly deserve it, just look at the ESPN going downhill thread, most people are sports fans for entertainment and an escape from their everyday lives. When they have become political in nature for their network, and act like TMZ for the sports world, I hope they continue to lose subscribers.
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Old 10-29-16, 01:17 PM   #5
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Re: ESPN Loses 621,000 Subscribers; Worst Month In Company History

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They truly deserve it, just look at the ESPN going downhill thread, most people are sports fans for entertainment and an escape from their everyday lives. When they have become political in nature for their network, and act like TMZ for the sports world, I hope they continue to lose subscribers.
That's all well and good. I don't even pay attention to ESPN outside of actual live events, outside of PTI and 30 for 30.

For all the shit ESPN gets (and they deserve a lot of shit; but not game coverage), I would remind sports fans of the days when far fewer games were available. I remember having to subscribe to the CFB package to watch the games I'm watching today.
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Old 10-29-16, 01:34 PM   #6
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Re: ESPN Loses 621,000 Subscribers; Worst Month In Company History

ESPN used to be about straightforward sports reporting.

SportsCenter showed a ton of highlights. Each game got a fair amount of time. Now they spend far too much time pushing personalities - both those of their on air talent and the athletes they cover.

As ESPN has tried to become more entertainment than sports (in how they present their programming) they've lost viewers. They tried to appeal to a wider audience, but have turned off their core viewers.
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Old 10-29-16, 01:35 PM   #7
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Re: ESPN Loses 621,000 Subscribers; Worst Month In Company History

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That's all well and good. I don't even pay attention to ESPN outside of actual live events, outside of PTI and 30 for 30.

For all the shit ESPN gets (and they deserve a lot of shit; but not game coverage), I would remind sports fans of the days when far fewer games were available. I remember having to subscribe to the CFB package to watch the games I'm watching today.
Exactly there is more live sports being broadcast now in 2016 than in the last 30-40 years. If you're a sports fan, you should be grateful that you have so many options now even more with local and national telecasts.

I still remember the dark ages when the NBA got taped delayed broadcasts at 11:30pm after local news.

Hell, I've made my living being in this industry for the last 20 years. It's one of those things that there will always be a demand for.
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Old 10-29-16, 01:39 PM   #8
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Re: ESPN Loses 621,000 Subscribers; Worst Month In Company History

I think the quality of ESPN that a few people have cited is pretty low on the list of reasons why subscription numbers are down. Cord cutting, online streaming, people able to get sports news in many different ways, rise in other direct sports channels, have all contributed more significantly.
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Old 10-29-16, 01:40 PM   #9
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Re: ESPN Loses 621,000 Subscribers; Worst Month In Company History

I'm a "subscriber" only because it's forced on me by my package. I never watch it.
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Old 10-29-16, 01:45 PM   #10
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Re: ESPN Loses 621,000 Subscribers; Worst Month In Company History

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Exactly there is more live sports being broadcast now in 2016 than in the last 30-40 years. If you're a sports fan, you should be grateful that you have so many options now even more with local and national telecasts.

I still remember the dark ages when the NBA got taped delayed broadcasts at 11:30pm after local news.

Hell, I've made my living being in this industry for the last 20 years. It's one of those things that there will always be a demand for.
First NBA game I ever watched was the tape-delayed Magic 1980 clincher. Begged my mom to watch it. It was a Friday night. I was 9.

Like I said, if you're just a NFL fan, go ahead, cut the cord. I would too. Nothing to lose outside of MNF, which is a shitfest.

No need to broadcast it. In a sports forum no less.
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Old 10-29-16, 03:03 PM   #11
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Re: ESPN Loses 621,000 Subscribers; Worst Month In Company History

All the pro sports leagues(except MLS) have their own networks. That's where you go for game highlights. No need for ESPN. Plus every sport has it's own package(MLB.tv,NFL Sunday Ticket,etc.) where you can see just about every game. No need for ESPN.

ESPN is for the fan who is still living in the 1980s.

I often wonder why these Networks over spend for the TV rights of the sports leagues when they could form their very own leagues and not have to worry about paying for rights. Didn't NBC overbid by 1 billion dollars for the olypmics?

Last edited by dvd-4-life; 10-29-16 at 03:13 PM.
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Old 10-29-16, 03:17 PM   #12
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Re: ESPN Loses 621,000 Subscribers; Worst Month In Company History

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All the pro sports leagues(except MLS) have their own networks. That's where you go for game highlights. No need for ESPN. Plus every sport has it's own package(MLB.tv,NFL Sunday Ticket,etc.) where you can see just about every game. No need for ESPN.

ESPN is for the fan who is still living in the 1980s.

I often wonder why these Networks over spend for the TV rights of the sports leagues when they could form their very own leagues and not have to worry about paying for rights. Didn't NBC overbid by 1 billion dollars for the olypmics?
I liberate my mother in laws account to watch some college football on ESPN, usually one of the early morning Big 10 games they have on ... beyond that and MNF ,if it is a game I care about, that is it.

I like a lot of the 30 for 30 shows, but I can wait for them to hit Netflix. I don't think losing ESPN would be too bad.

I subscribed to Sling TV for a month to catch FS1 and the NL playoffs this year and I'll do the same when the NHL playoffs start to get NBCSN.

Beyond that, MLB.tv, NHL streaming, and Sunday Ticket take care of it for me.
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Old 10-29-16, 03:24 PM   #13
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Re: ESPN Loses 621,000 Subscribers; Worst Month In Company History

Ah, Captain Negative has chimed in. So sorry ESPN has ruined your experience. Good lord. Yes, I'll live in the 80s now watching a bunch of CFB games today and a zillion CBB games in the coming months. This is all ESPN's fault.
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Old 10-29-16, 03:33 PM   #14
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Re: ESPN Loses 621,000 Subscribers; Worst Month In Company History

As an NBA fan, if I got NBA TV and cut the cord, I believe I would miss out on all the prime time games, if I'm not mistaken. One has to wonder why ESPN (more importantly, cable and I am guessing satellite) somehow lost that many people in one month? It isn't just ESPN, right? Because, at least with cable, I'm almost positive ESPN comes with the basic cable channels.
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Old 10-29-16, 03:47 PM   #15
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Re: ESPN Loses 621,000 Subscribers; Worst Month In Company History

It's not just about ESPN. People are tired of paying ever increasing fees to the cable company or dish provider for locals as well, for something that is broadcast over the air for free. That pisses me off more than ESPN.

I'm kind of hoping it all implodes and we can get real a la carte options, as there are really about 10 channels I watch with any frequency.
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Old 10-29-16, 03:47 PM   #16
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Re: ESPN Loses 621,000 Subscribers; Worst Month In Company History

I have no idea how ESPN allowed themselves to get bent over with the new NFL deal to where the MNF game is usually some garbage. It used to be one of the best games that week. Now that distinction goes to SNF and ESPN is left with the dregs.
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Old 10-29-16, 03:53 PM   #17
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Re: ESPN Loses 621,000 Subscribers; Worst Month In Company History

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I have no idea how ESPN allowed themselves to get bent over with the new NFL deal to where the MNF game is usually some garbage. It used to be one of the best games that week. Now that distinction goes to SNF and ESPN is left with the dregs.
Pretty much, unless the Bears are playing in it, I usually skip it .. it is not really all that better than the Thursday night games
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Old 10-29-16, 04:01 PM   #18
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Re: ESPN Loses 621,000 Subscribers; Worst Month In Company History

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I have no idea how ESPN allowed themselves to get bent over with the new NFL deal to where the MNF game is usually some garbage. It used to be one of the best games that week. Now that distinction goes to SNF and ESPN is left with the dregs.
But they need it. If they don't have a piece of the NFL...bye bye carriage fee (the commercials are gravy). If they don't have that package...say, Turner has it, then that fee will roll to that. So cable subscribers gain nothing.

The problem is that the NFL does not want to try to beef up that package. They are trying to milk the new TNF package.

I say blame the NFL, not ESPN.

I've got other issues with ESPN...their NFL, NCAAF, NCAAB coverage....is definitely not it. I'm not a NBA fan, but from what I've seen, they are all over that too.

So outside of NHL, I'm tired of the ESPN bitching.
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Old 10-29-16, 04:40 PM   #19
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Re: ESPN Loses 621,000 Subscribers; Worst Month In Company History

I really do not have a huge beef with ESPN, I do think other TV outlets and internet has made them irrelevant. When they started, it was cool as hell to see extended highlights of every single game .. thinking mostly baseball .. but other sports as well), versus mainly just local highlights on local TV. That made SportsCenter must watch viewing .. now you can just get that on the internet or watch virtually any game you want with the streaming packages or watch condensed games later.

30 for 30 is real high quality and really the only must watch on ESPN beyond some individual games they have rights to.
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Old 10-29-16, 08:28 PM   #20
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Re: ESPN Loses 621,000 Subscribers; Worst Month In Company History

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It's not just about ESPN. People are tired of paying ever increasing fees to the cable company or dish provider for locals as well, for something that is broadcast over the air for free. That pisses me off more than ESPN.

I'm kind of hoping it all implodes and we can get real a la carte options, as there are really about 10 channels I watch with any frequency.
I was a little confused about this as well, since you don't get ESPN by itself, doesn't this mean cable subscriptions are down a ton as well? Even if you love NFL network aren't they usually on the same tier anyway?
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Old 10-29-16, 09:49 PM   #21
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Re: ESPN Loses 621,000 Subscribers; Worst Month In Company History

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So I'm not sure what the point of this thread is except to say I'm a cord cutter. And I have no idea what "getting rid of commercial TV" means. Having only OTA means "commercial TV."
The welcome I expected.
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Old 10-30-16, 05:44 AM   #22
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Re: ESPN Loses 621,000 Subscribers; Worst Month In Company History

I was reading at Dallas News that ESPN and ESPN 2 is supposed too be part of the new Direct TV streaming channel. If they get 500,000 subscribers won't they regain most of the subscribers lost in October?
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Old 10-30-16, 08:33 AM   #23
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Re: ESPN Loses 621,000 Subscribers; Worst Month In Company History

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I'm a "subscriber" only because it's forced on me by my package. I never watch it.
I dont think a basic cable package exists that doesn't include ESPN. This subscriber drop is more a function of cable's precipitous losses due to cord cutters than a failing of ESPN alone.

I know people love to bitch about ESPN. But aside from a few talking head shows on weekday mornings (which I think is likely the source of most of the bitching). I think by and large they do a good job. As mentioned above pre-ESPN it was a sad state of affairs if you were a sports fan. Their college football coverage in particular is excellent.
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Old 10-30-16, 09:46 AM   #24
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Re: ESPN Loses 621,000 Subscribers; Worst Month In Company History

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If you're only a NFL fan, you don't really need ESPN.

If you're a college FB or BB fan, it's a must. Simple as that.

If you're a MLB, NBA, or NHL fan, you're stuck with them because if you want the playoffs, you're not getting one w/o the other (NBCSN/TNT/Etc).

So I'm not sure what the point of this thread is except to say I'm a cord cutter. And I have no idea what "getting rid of commercial TV" means. Having only OTA means "commercial TV."
The problem for us is that Nats and Caps can only be seen on MASN which isnt even on Vue next (which sucks).
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Old 10-30-16, 10:37 AM   #25
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Re: ESPN Loses 621,000 Subscribers; Worst Month In Company History

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The problem for us is that Nats and Caps can only be seen on MASN which isnt even on Vue next (which sucks).
Caps are on CSN.
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