ESPN Subscriber Loss Hurts Disney Income, Sports Giant Continues Rapid Decline


ESPN’s well-publicized hemorrhaging of subscribers peaked in recent months, greatly hindering the Bristol-based giant’s all-important ability to purchase sports rights.

Now, subscriber loss reached such a level that ESPN has become a financial drain on its parent-company Disney.


Other Disney TV properties have also taken hits, but ESPN’s subscription face-plant, highlighted by the earth-shattering loss of 621,000 subscribers in October, has Disney most concerned, considering that ESPN accounts for a huge portion Disney’s operating income.

According to Variety:

Disney’s trials in TV reflect broader industry upheaval; at ESPN, cord-cutting and cord-shaving eating into the affiliate revenue base. Cable affiliate revenue has been the bedrock of earnings for media conglomerates, and Disney is no exception. By some estimates, ESPN accounts for as much as 30% of Disney’s operating income, and the sports powerhouse has shed 10 million subscribers in the past five years.

ESPN is, in some ways, suffering from its own success. Because of its marquee sports programming, it is by far the highest-priced cable channel for MVPDs to carry, commanding a monthly fee of more than $7 per subscriber. Disney over the years has been relentless in pushing MVPDs for steady fee increases because of ESPN’s status as a must-have channel for sports fans. Now that high cost serves as an incentive to MVPDs to leave ESPN out of smaller bundles offered for lower prices than the traditional MVPD basic package.

Meanwhile, the long-term bills for ESPN’s sports rights have skyrocketed in the past few years, due in part to renewed competition from Fox Sports and NBC Sports. That has set up a perfect storm of rising costs, softening ratings, and falling affiliate revenue.

To say that ESPN suffers from its own success is certainly one way of looking at it. The other way is that ESPN suffers because it has become insufferable. Not to totally dismiss the subscriber costs and cord-cutting that has plagued ESPN, but if those market factors fully explained the loss in subscribers then why, just two weeks ago, did ESPN Ombudsman Jim Brady write a voluminous mea culpa admitting that ESPN had lurched way too far to the left, thus alienating many of its viewers?

Not only that, Brady also outlined new rules regarding on-air and social media conduct for ESPN personalities that prevent them from going off on prolonged, leftist political rants. If what ails ESPN can simply be chalked-up as conspiring market forces in the greater war on cable television then such a lengthy, and surely painful admission from the “four-letter network” would prove unnecessary.

Until ESPN commits to sports as escapism, subscribers will continue to escape from ESPN.

View the original article:

Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter: @themightygwinn

In the same category are

FrontRow Wearable Camera is Perfect Accessory for Flavor Flav Cosplay Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it. If only Ferris Bueller had a FrontRow camera. The latest ...
Neo-Nazi blog The Daily Stormer tries to move to Russian domain (Credit: Getty/Chip Somodevilla) An American neo-Nazi website has taken a cue from Donald Trump Jr. by looking to Russians for help. Less than a day ...
Martin Shkreli thinks he’ll be president someday (Credit: AP Photo/Seth Wenig) Do you think Martin Shkreli, aka the “Pharma Bro,” is destined to become an American president? If you don&...
Ben Affleck Promises Changes for Justice League’s Batman and Casey Affleck Teases a Bigger One It’s no secret that the DCEU has had some problems. The incredibly bleak tone that plagued Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman had many fans wondering...
Donald Trump’s CEO advisory councils are done, but who eliminated them? Jeff Bezos, Larry Page, Sheryl Sandberg, Mike Pence, Donald Trump and Peter Thiel meet at Trump Tower in New York, December 14, 2016. (Credit: Getty/...
Navigating Paradox, Reality Bubbles, & Multiple Worldviews with VR Dr. Marilyn Schlitz is a social anthropologist, consciousness researcher, and co-author of the books Consciousness & Healing and Living Deeply. He...

Dont forget to “Like” us on Facebook

Need something to share, visit our sister site for the news this week in a clear concise package ….

Comment on this story