2016 was a very bad year for cable TV channels…from a record number of subscriber drops and higher costs to retransmission fights that resulted in 2017 starting with a ton of blacked out local stations. Add it all up and it’s a bad time to own a cable TV network.
Now we get a new report that ESPN is once again seeing dropping subscriber numbers. According to Nielsen, ESPN has hit an 11-year low in subscribers after it lost 9 million viewers in just the last 3 years.
However, ESPN is still very profitable, earning an estimated $7.21 a month for each of its remaining 90 million subscribers. The loss of 9 million subscribers means ESPN will get $64,890,000 less this year than it did a few years ago, which is likely one of the main reasons behind all of the shakeups happening at ESPN.
These dropping subscriber numbers have resulted in some calling for Disney to sell off ESPN or spin it off into its own company; however, ESPN is a very profitable group for Disney because sports are something most viewers still watch live—meaning it can charge a premium for its ads.
ESPN is also expected to launch a standalone streaming service in 2017. It is rumored to not offer access to current ESPN channels but it is rumored to offer a wide range of sports coverage.
It will be interesting to see where ESPN is in a year from now. Long seen as one of cable’s most powerful weapons against cord cutters, it is now something any cord cutter can enjoy without a 2-year contract through options like Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, and now DIRECTV NOW.
Need cord cutting tech support? Join our new Cord Cutting Tech Support Facebook Group for help.