Report: ESPN lost millions of cable subscribers in 2015
It’s no secret that ESPN has undergone a major business shift in 2015.
A mass exodus of talent has included Bill Simmons, Colin Cowherd, Jason Whitlock and Keith Olbermann, among many dozens of common employees. The company also shuttered the beloved long-form sports and culture site Grantland.com.
With costs for the broadcast rights of major sports rising into the billions, and cable TV subscriptions on the decline, we’re entering a new era for giants like ESPN.
Parent company Disney has chosen to be aggressive and get out in front of the coming slide, cutting jobs and reinventing the business model. Disney CEO Bob Iger said during an August conference call that ESPN “experienced some modest (subscriber) losses” due to the overall industry trend.
But the level at which ESPN is shedding subscribers is shocking.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the sports giant has lost about 7 million subscribers in two years. That’s an astonishing figure for Disney’s most profitable TV asset. It also adds some teeth to the assertion that ESPN is far from done shedding high-dollar employees and repositioning itself as a business.
We’ve reached a new era in TV media, and it’s going to get harder and harder for companies like ESPN to remain so huge. Eventually, we could see a trickle-down affect in the professional sports world.
Meanwhile, the SEC still should inherit tens of millions in revenue from the SEC Network, which is in its second year of existence. The SEC probably is lucky the network launched when it did, because looking toward 2016, it seems less likely that ESPN would agree to such a big venture.