ESPN Tightens Its Belt as Pressure on It Mounts-Cable Subscribers Drop Dramatically in the Last Year!
Sports-TV powerhouse ESPN, a profit machine that has long towered over the media landscape, is showing signs of stress as the pay -TV industry goes through an unprecedented period of upheaval.
A decline in subscribers as customers trim their cable bills, coupled with rising content costs and increased competition, has ESPN in belt-tightening mode, people familiar with the situation say.
The company, majority owned by Walt Disney Co., has lost 3.2 million subscribers in a little over a year, according to Nielsen data, as people have “cut the cord” by dropping their cable-TV subscriptions or downgraded to cheaper, slimmed-down TV packages devoid of expensive sports channels like ESPN.
Since July 2011, ESPN’s reach into American homes has dropped 7.2%, from more than 100 million households—roughly the size of the total U.S. pay-TV market—to 92.9 million households, according to Nielsen data.
Viewership of SportsCenter, its marquee and high-margin sports-news show, has sagged since September, due in part to the fact that younger consumers are increasingly finding sports news at their fingertips on smartphone apps.
Sources: The Wall Street Journal & Nielsen