ESPN, the leader in sports news, has had a rough month.
The latest Nielsen reports estimate that from last month, ESPN has lost nearly 500,000 subscribers as cable viewership fell from 89.5 million to 89 million June to July.
ESPN, once thought to be attempting to innovate on live streaming of sports, has had a tough time keeping pace with many other developing services that have all made live-streaming a lot easier for viewers. Standalone streaming sports packages, and third party offerings like Sling TV are ramping up their offerings, leaving little room for stagnation by one of the biggest sports broadcasters.
But failure to innovate over the past several years is likely only partially causing this decline in subscribers. Several of the network’s big stars have departed or are departing in the near future. There was also a huge bet on being a bit more of an entertainment network over the past few years, with less live sports and analysis in exchange for talking heads yelling and screaming at each other about less-than-significant news.
Regardless of the root causes, people leaving cable in exchange for live streaming options coupled with a perceived decline in show quality is going to force ESPN to rethink the next decade. There are lots of rumors circulating that ESPN is planning on launching its own streaming service, but the price quoted thus far has made it seem like a fool’s errand. Some estimations have the price listed at nearly $15 a month for just the ESPN networks. Including that with 2-3 other streaming services and the price difference between that and a traditional cable service is pretty minimal.
Have you cancelled your ESPN subscription? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.