Traditionally not strange bedfellows, ESPN and Monday Night Football should make for a nice, natural fit. However, the bed they made together appears to have caught fire, and the anthem-kneeling, social-justice-warrior love child they created now dumps gasoline on the flames.
To put this in context, ESPN lost the entire city of Baltimore, or the combined populations of Lexington, Kentucky and Stockdale, California, in a month.
That’s fairly impressive when you think about it.
The subscriber loss represents the worst in ESPN history, made all the worse since ESPN has essentially lost 300,000 subscribers a month over the past few years anyway. The tanking of Monday Night Football helps not at all. The end result of all this that ESPN loses $52 million dollars in revenue.
Now, to qualify, subscribers dropped across all cable providers, not just ESPN. However, as Fox Sports 1’s Clay Travis notes, “It just impacts ESPN the most because ESPN costs every cable and satellite subscriber roughly $7 a month, over triple the next most expensive cable channel. Yep, if you have a cable or satellite subscription, whether you watch ESPN or not, you’re paying ESPN over $80 a year.”
It buys sports rights.
Presently ESPN is on the hook for the following yearly sports rights payments: $1.9 billion a year to the NFL for Monday Night Football, $1.47 billion to the NBA, $700 million to Major League Baseball, $608 million for the College Football Playoff, $225 million to the ACC, $190 million to the Big Ten, $120 million to the Big 12, $125 million a year to the PAC 12, and hundreds of millions more to the SEC.
The total costs? According to SNL Kagan ESPN is on track to pay $7.3 billion in total rights fees in 2017. That’s more than any company in America.
So it doesn’t exactly take a genius to see that while costs for rights to sports packages go up, and network revenues go down, if these trends continue we head to a place where ESPN might have to drop the “S” from ESPN because they can no longer afford to buy sports rights.
Some really big positives for conservatives jump out immediately. First and foremost, the world’s largest and most liberal sports network took a big hit, perhaps not a fatal one, yet wounded nonetheless. The other positive for conservatives has to do with ESPN’s expected reaction to these subscriber losses. ESPN makes its money from sports rights.