Cord cutting in 2023 has continued to grow, hitting some of the most popular networks hard. According to a new report from Nielsen, some of the most popular cable TV networks have lost millions of paying customers in the last 12 months.
ESPN has lost 4 million subscribers since December of 2022, according to a report from Nielsen and published by SportsTVRatings. The report found MLB Network had been hit the hardest, losing over 11 million subscribers, or more than a quarter of all of its TV subscribers. (MLB Network was dropped by YouTube TV earlier this year.)
Other networks have felt the pressure too. During the last 12 months, FS1 lost over 3 million, BTN lost over 2 million, and TNT lost more than 4 million. One surprise is the NFL Network, which only lost 281,000 thanks to new deals with players like DIRECTV STREAM.
This all comes as the U.S. added 1.2 million new TV homes in 2023. Increasingly cord cutters are ditching any traditional pay TV service, whether that be cable TV or a live TV streaming service, in favor of on-demand-only services like Max and Netflix.
Many cable TV executives had hoped that cord cutters would replace cable TV with a live TV streaming service. It doesn’t appear to be happening at a rate that many in the industry had hoped.
In total, the number of Americans paying for live TV services from cable TV companies or streaming services has dropped by 4.4 million to just 74.5 million customers. That is compared to the estimated 125 million households with a TV in the United States.
With numbers like 4 million fewer paying customers, you can see why ESPN wants to launch its own streaming service. This may help ESPN recover some lost subscribers and lost revenue. But that service is not expected to launch until sometime in 2025.
No matter how you look at these numbers, what is clear is the dramatic shift in how Americans watch TV. Increasingly, if you are not into sports there is no reason to pay for a live TV service.