Skip to main content

ESPN losing subscribers, cutting costs

disney forces espn to cut costs 1024px sportscenter studios 2
<a href="">By Rob Poetsch (IMG_8037) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons</a>
The next time ESPN reports on a sports franchise that’s trying desperately to get under the salary cap, they’ll be able to empathize like never before. While the “worldwide leader in sports” has historically been a cash cow, a changing cable landscape has prompted Disney — the network’s parent company — to slash the sports behemoth’s budget.

Reports indicate that Disney is forcing ESPN to cut $100 million from its 2016 budget and $250 million from its 2017 budget. This news comes on the heels of reports that big names like Keith Olbermann and Bill Simmons are on their way out of town and that Radio Personalities Mike Greenberg & Mike Golic (Mike & Mike) won’t be moving — as planned — from Bristol, CT to Times Square.

Business Insider claims the cost-cutting at ESPN “should make everyone nervous,” from cable providers to the network’s employees, and people are beginning to wonder whether the network is truly in trouble. Unbeknownst to the general public, ESPN has been hemorrhaging subscribers lately, losing 3.2 million subscribers in more than a year, as reported last week by The Wall Street Journal.

In the past, we’ve reported on just how expensive ESPN is vis-a-vis the rest of your cable package, and non-sports fans are increasingly looking for ways to avoid shelling out for programming that they don’t want or need.

On top of that, a new TV deal will nearly triple the cost of the network’s NBA rights, which are expected to shoot up from $485 million annually to $1.47 billion annually come 2016-17.

It’s too early to tell what the practical effect of all this cost-cutting will be, but this year’s college basketball season may have been a harbinger of things to come. This past season, announcers called 47 different games from the studio in Bristol, as the network opted not to pay for their travel expenses.

Despite have a stranglehold on day-to-day sports programming, it looks like ESPN — like most other networks and cable providers — may have to reconcile with the ever-changing realities of today’s media market. We’ll be bringing you further developments in the days/weeks to come.

Editors' Recommendations

Adam Poltrack
Adam is an A/V News Writer for Digital Trends, and is responsible for bringing you the latest advances in A/V…
Why you may still be missing ESPN and other Disney-owned channels on YouTube TV
YouTube TV on Roku.

ESPN, ABC, FX, and other channels owned by Disney have returned to YouTube TV. But if you reorder your live listings so that the channels you actually watch are higher up than the ones you don't, you likely don't see those channels at all.

The problem is a bit of a glitch in that not only have the channels in question been pushed to the bottom of the listings in the custom view -- they're actually not even enabled in the first place. And that's not a new phenomenon. It's the way it has always worked when new channels are added to YouTube TV and you're using the custom sort, and so it makes sense (in a perverse, broken sort of way) that it's the case with the Disney-owned channels as they've been added back to YouTube TV.

Read more
YouTube TV couldn’t have picked a worse time to lose ESPN
best youtube tv alternatives alternative 5

There's never a good time for a streaming service to lose channels. Not for you, not for the service. But YouTube TV's potential loss of the Disney-owned channels -- which, among other things, comprises ABC, FX, ESPN, and of course, Disney -- could be devastating for what is believed to be the second-largest live TV streaming service in the United States, with more than 3 million subscribers at one point.

The linchpin in this sort of thing tends to be sports -- live events whose distribution rights command top dollar. The NFL may be what you think of first when it comes to the sort of thing, with any one of the usual suspects supposedly in the running to carry NFL Sunday Ticket, which lets anyone watch out-of-market games.

Read more
Don’t get burned on the Fury vs Wilder 3 PPV — the best way to tune in
dont get burned on the fury vs wilder 3 ppv best way to tune in boxing  ii

If you're here, you probably already know that Tyson Fury and Deonte Wilder are expecting to enter the ring this weekend, for the third time since 2018, in one of the more highly-anticipated bouts of the year. Fury is scheduled to defend his WBC heavyweight championship at 9 PM EST on Saturday.

If you're looking to watch Fury vs Wilder 3 from the comfort of your living room, things may be a little confusing -- or maybe you just want a fast track on a great streaming deal? In any case, the best way to watch is through ESPN+ whether you have a solo subscription or you take advantage of The Disney Bundle.

Read more