Struggling to stop the bleeding, ESPN, FS1, and most television networks are continuing to lose subscribers at an alarming rate.
According to Sports TV Ratings, Nielsen estimates ESPN lost 100,000 subscribers in the last month, 274,000 since August, and nearly 1 million customers since February. ESPN is currently in 86,943,000 homes. In 2011 the network had over 100 million subscribers, meaning they’re down over 13 million in just six years. The 1 million subscribers they’ve lost in 2017 means ESPN is losing customers at a slower rate than previous years, but it’s still more cord cutters than they can afford.
The rapid loss of customers led to layoffs of nearly 300 ESPN employees in 2015, 100 this past April, and another 150 today. ESPN President John Skipper confirmed in a memo to employees that those affected are in the studio production, digital content and technology departments. This round of layoffs may not include many recognizable names, but that doesn’t make it any better for the industry, company, or employees.
Fox Sports 1 also lost close to 200,000 subscribers in the last month, but they’re still up from their August totals thanks to an increase of 292,000 between August and November. Overall, FS1 is down 775,000 since February, not as many as ESPN, but still a negative trend for the television industry.
Nielsen is beginning to factor streaming platforms into their numbers, so these subscriber loss estimates are not only from traditional television customers. However, the estimates are based off of a sample of 40,000 households with traditional cable and satellite companies, but only 111 homes using a streaming service.
For other sports networks, subscriber loss seems to coincide with the respective sports’ season. The NFL Network is up over 700,000 subscribers since August, whereas MLB Network and the Golf Channel lost around 500,000 customers in the last month.