Disney-owned sports cable network ESPN, the most left-wing name in sports, is continuing its downward slide, losing another 2 million subscribers in 2018 alone.
This is on top of the nearly 15 million it already lost over the last seven years or so.
The cable network’s latest numbers put it at 86 million subscribers which is down from the over 100 million it reported in 2011.
The only bight spot was that the rate of decline slowed slightly over the numbers lost in the last few years, but losing another two million is not a number to celebrate, regardless.
As Clay Travis reported, “Those 15 million lost subscribers equate to $1.44 billion a year in lost yearly revenue that ESPN will never be able to book. (This is based on an $8 a month subscriber cost for ESPN multiplied by 12 months in the year.) Again, this isn’t just a one-time yearly revenue loss, this is a loss in yearly revenue forever.”
While it is true that all cable networks are losing subscribers (not just ESPN), the loss is much worse for ESPN because the network feels it on its bottom line sooner than other networks.
One of the problems ESPN has is the huge outlay of cash it has to put out for rights to broadcast the games of the NFL, NBA, MLB and other professional league sports.
This is billions spent for broadcast rights and that is billions that other networks are not saddled with paying out. So, when ESPN loses subscribers it hurts them much worse than when other networks lose customers.
Worse, ESPN has locked in these broadcast rights payments with the leagues in multi-year deals. So, if they even if lose operating cash by losing subscribers, they can’t just simply cut the costs of their cost of doing business because they are contractually obligated to pay no matter what!
In the end, my guess is that ESPN will eventually be forced to stop airing live pro sports games and go back to the day where they just report on finished games like they did in the early days.
It seems obvious that eventually ESPN just won’t have the billions to pay for these rights.
And that will be the end of ESPN as we know it.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.