Today Nielsen released estimates for cable and satellite subscribers in October of 2017.
And the picture was not pretty for ESPN.
In a month — September — when sports cable channels typically roll up new subscribers thanks to the return of football season, ESPN lost nearly 7,000 subscribers a day, shedding 203,000 households in September to fall to 87,523,000 subscribers, the lowest number of ESPN subscribers in over a decade, and a decline from over 100 million subscribers just over five years ago.
NFL ratings tank as Trump feuds with NFL protesters, ESPN subscribers plummet https://t.co/fhFThU2ONA
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) September 25, 2017
At the same time, alarmingly for ESPN, competing sports networks added subscribers, meaning this attrition of ESPN subscribers wasn’t simply a function of reduced demand for cable and satellite overall. NBC Sports Network added 160,000 subscribers and FS1 added 549.000 subscribers, putting NBCSN and FS1 narrowly behind ESPN in total households, 85,246,000 for NBCSN and 85,297, 000 for FS1 according to Nielsen estimates.
It has been an awful month for ESPN, from the slave auction apology for a fantasy sports draft to the removal of Asian broadcaster Robert Lee from a University of Virginia game because his name was too similar to Confederate General Robert E. Lee to the recent decision to permit Jemele Hill to call the president of the United States a white supremacist and also say that most of the president’s advisers and supporters were racist as well.
It certainly seems likely that the market is responding in a negative fashion to these ESPN decisions. How else to explain how ESPN could lose nearly 7,000 subscribers a day while rival networks actually added subscribers?
At least we know ESPN is focused on the MSESPN problem and working to remedy it immediately.
Oh, wait, I mean their top executives are counting how many times I say boobs on the radio instead. (Check out the comments on this Tweet if you want to be really entertained.)
Fox Sports must be proud that its morning radio host said “boob” 53 times today. pic.twitter.com/7t8PhIoAnf
— Mike Soltys (@espnmikes) September 18, 2017
Good luck, MSESPN.