Subscribe To The Crazy Number Of Subscribers ESPN Has Lost Since 2013 Updates
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While the wide world of sports hasn’t been the victim of a huge and noticeable exodus of fans over the past few years, the same cannot be said for ESPN’s subscriber base. The network has been as big a victim of anyone across the TV dial when it comes to the gradual consumer shift from cable and satellite packages to other services, and recent Nielsen coverage clues us in on the fact that since 2013, ESPN has lost a whopping 10 million subscribers. And it’s not getting any better.
Of the 116.4 million homes that Nielsen estimates were been active during the past TV season, ESPN is available in roughly 89.46 million, which seems like a high number but is almost depressingly low in this context. Reports from 2013 put the network’s viewership north of 99 million homes, so that 10 million-strong drop didn’t even take a full three years to happen. It doesn’t require a lifetime of mathematics classes and a healthy imagination to see how alarming that can be, even assuming the rate of subscription cancellations won’t stay that high. If it would, though, Fox Sports says this could be the worst year in the network’s history, as over 1.5 million people have already opted out between February 2016 and now.
If each ESPN subscription brings in $80 a year, as is the going estimation, then that means the network has lost something over $2 billion in less than three years from that customer loss. That total is definitely not small potatoes, and it’s hard to imagine anything that can be done to even stop the drainage, much less cause an upswell. ESPN has to shell out huge fees on a yearly basis – it’s over $6 billion currently – just for the rights to all of the major sports leagues, and those deals presumably also won’t be going down in the future. So while ESPN isn’t in the most dire straits when it comes to customers switching to other plans and bundles, it won’t be too long before the financial situation becomes a red flag issue.
In the past few months, one big name after another has either announced an exit from ESPN or been fired by the company. By next year, we’ll no longer see Skip Bayless getting loud or the stat-heavy words of Mike Tirico on Monday Night Football. Even the stalwart analyst Chris Berman is rumored to be saying farewell in the near future. Perhaps new blood behind the desks and behind the scenes will give the network a reprieve from sagging ratings and expensive busts. Or maybe there’s no reversing the cord-cutting trend.
Things aren’t going great for ESPN2, either, which lost even more subscriber homes than the flagship network since February 2016. Things aren’t looking great for any sports networks, mind you, but it’s getting particularly rough for ESPN in the modern era.