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Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Disney expected to cut ESPN

 Woke, broke, and soon to get smoked:

CNBC’s Jim Cramer told TheStreet.com that Disney’s reorganization plan announced this week is writing on the wall for ESPN. “I think it’s really about getting rid of ESPN,” Cramer said of the plan to accelerate a direct-to-consumer strategy. The main focus for Disney going forward will be streaming, streaming and more streaming....

“ESPN used to be this unbelievable thing and now it’s just a really expensive thing they are having trouble monetizing. ESPN is no longer the precious place that it once was.”

“ESPN went from slightly over 100 million cable subscribers in 2010 to slightly over 80 million earlier this year,” Outkick’s Ryan Glasspiegel wrote this week when the Disney news was announced. This affects every cable network. Cable news has been thriving in viewership for a number of reasons, but it is still facing the subscriber declines of the rest of the industry. The issue for ESPN in particular is that they have by far the biggest subscriber fees of anyone in the business.

“This is the rough math: Between ESPN and ESPN2, the subscriber fees total about $10 a month. They’ve lost about 20 million subscribers, which is $200 million a month, which is about $2.4 billion a year in lost revenue.”

No matter how rich and powerful a corporation is, events will eventually overtake its situation sooner or later. 

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48 Comments:

Blogger Bad Attitude October 14, 2020 6:19 PM  

If I had known so much of my satellite/cable bill was going to ESPN, I would have cut the cord sooner.

Blogger kurt9 October 14, 2020 6:53 PM  

Hopefully, what Disney and Coinbase are doing will turn into a preference cascade.

Blogger Jack Amok October 14, 2020 6:54 PM  

ESPN is on the hook for $Billions per year in rights fees to various pro and college sports leagues, and most of these contracts run for several more years. Based on estimates Clay Travis made four years ago at Outkick, ESPN is probably real close to their break-even point, and still bleeding subscription fees. If DIS cuts them loose, there's a very real chance that not only will ESPN be broke inside two years, but they'll have to stiff the NFL and NBA between 10% and 20% of those league's respective revenue.





Blogger kurt9 October 14, 2020 6:55 PM  

I binned my cable/satellite service when I moved four years ago. I have a "Roku" device where I can watch free TV and movies. I just binned the Netflix simply because I realized I was not watching it enough to justify the cost.

Blogger Crunchy Cachalot October 14, 2020 7:01 PM  

ESPN's prayin' for a Biden victory and a president-approved bailout.

Disney starts with the radical surgery, thinking they can survive the cancer since they don't realize they are the cancer.

Blogger Brett baker October 14, 2020 7:03 PM  

Hopefully Cramer isn't wrong on this.

Blogger Stilicho October 14, 2020 7:07 PM  

Couldn't happen to a woker bunch of wankers

Blogger Up from the pond October 14, 2020 7:19 PM  

"Cable news has been thriving in viewership for a number of reasons"

Just say Tucker Carlson.

Blogger Azimus October 14, 2020 7:59 PM  

Too early to celebrate. Some rich tart like Cuban could buy it for a pet like Bezos bought the Post, though I assume since they're (probably) still #1 in their field the price would be an order of magnitude difference, so maybe not. Private equity? A PE firm owned Chrysler for awhile afterall and a chance to own a peach like this with such an easy and obvious turnaround strategy doesn't come around every day.

Where did the 20M viewers go to? I don't know sports talk very well - Fox Sports? Did they just evaporate? I suppose if a potential buyer thinks they can be added back, ESPN is primed for a buyout and shakedown - probably the first time PE ever used their buy-fire-sell model to do anything that is a net benefit to American society...

I'd love to see a PE buyout with a controlling stake being offered by Rush Limbaugh, though Disney would probably slit the throat of their little wayward woke lamb than put it in the hands of a mortal enemy who could more than likely fix it and cause it to thrive...

Blogger tsquared October 14, 2020 8:12 PM  

ESPN's death is welcomed. They have pushed the leftist agenda and BLM. They need to die.

Blogger Trid October 14, 2020 8:13 PM  

"if you ain't playing, we ain't paying"

Espn lawyers were probably too woke to put in sufficient escape clauses

Blogger Damelon Brinn October 14, 2020 8:18 PM  

Where did the 20M viewers go to?

If they still follow sports, some settle for clips on their phone. Otherwise: other TV, video games, social media, playing outside....

Blogger MidnightSun October 14, 2020 8:19 PM  

"subscriptions went from over 100 million 2010 to 80 million this year"
This sounds highly suspect. Like the evening news, their ratings are probably in the tank. More like 10 million.

Blogger FallofthaEmpire October 14, 2020 8:37 PM  

ESPN used to be an experience back in the 90s. Sure they still had the corporate tumor eating away at their leadership of the company, however it wasn't as evident till about 2001, from where it got exponentially worse. But they need to meet their timely end, and their parent company does too. Away with the propagation of stupid narratives. Though the chances of one individual taking on a company of that scale and putting it six feet under is low, the collective needs to vote for these cancerous companies' deaths with their dollar.

Blogger Colonel Blimp October 14, 2020 8:48 PM  

Cuban is neither that rich, nor that dumb.

Blogger Hammerli 280 October 14, 2020 8:51 PM  

Get woke, go broke.

Although I do think there is room for a sports network, especially one that paid attention to the lesser-known sports.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash October 14, 2020 8:52 PM  

MidnightSun wrote:This sounds highly suspect.
Subscriptions are not viewers. It's very difficult to get a cable subscription without ESPN, despite the cost. I assume there's a kickback to the directors of the cable companies.

Blogger tuberman October 14, 2020 9:06 PM  

ESPN's loss is good a omen-- more to come.

Blogger papabear October 14, 2020 9:08 PM  

Too early to get champagne?

Blogger Jack Amok October 14, 2020 9:11 PM  

Where did the 20M viewers go to? I don't know sports talk very well - Fox Sports? Did they just evaporate?

As Snidely said, most cable subscription packages include ESPN. If you have cable, odds are $7 (or maybe $10, I see different figures reported) of you bill goes to ESPN, regardless of whether you ever watch ESPN or not. The lost 20 Million subscribers are people who dropped cable altogether. Some of them may have been sports fans, but most were not hard-core sports fans enough to seek out a replacement for ESPN.

If ESPN was an a la carte offering in cable plans, the drop would be even higher. Cable companies gave ESPN a sweetheart deal in large part because they both thought live sports were the key to mitigating cable cutting. Everything else works better on-demand and time-shifted than live (no need to watch the latest episode of whatever crappy doctor drama at the same time as everyone else, tivo it and watch it at your convenience). But live sports still provide some small premium of value over delayed, so ESPN, Comcast and the rest thought that was their life line.

It wasn't. It wasn't even before the woke kneelers got involved, but they've really accelerated the burn.

Blogger Coroña DeNier October 14, 2020 9:45 PM  

This ^ Let them burn

Blogger SemiSpook37 October 14, 2020 9:46 PM  

There's a lot of content out there on YouTube that sticks to the sports...and it's done by amateurs.

And it's significantly BETTER than what the idiots in Bristol have offered for years.

Well, that and ESPN insisting that Barry Melrose is the end-all, be-all of hockey commentary (spoiler alert: he's not).

Blogger The Depolrable Podunk Ken Ramsey October 14, 2020 9:49 PM  

ESPN used to be extremely fun. SportsCenter was a riot and must-watch television for guys back in the day. That weekend when they opened up the first ESPN Zone sports bar was nuts around here, the whole town was hoppin' and eager to get down there and check it out. A very big deal!

The thrill is gone, and Elvis left the building a long time ago. Add in woke sports leagues now and what's the point?

Blogger tdcommenter October 14, 2020 9:54 PM  

Outkick can fill the void and actually talk about sports.

Blogger Pathfinderlight October 14, 2020 10:12 PM  

Companies unleash the lawyers to fight over 2 major things...expanding pies and shrinking pies. The former is driven by lust for power, the latter by survival. A lawyer getting a bad deal for a company during an industry decline can kill that company.

Let's hope that happens to ESPN. All those elitist jackasses on the street brings a ray of sunshine in these dark times.

Blogger mgh October 14, 2020 10:34 PM  

ESPN no longer tells sports stories. Look at their website and you will see the score of the college football game, along with a one minute clip of a couple of random touchdowns, with little to no context. Looks like something a clueless SJW put together. There was a time when you tuned in to Sportscenter and got hooked watching longer video clips explaining the ebb and flow of the games.

Blogger Up from the pond October 14, 2020 10:38 PM  

I start at 8 a.m.

Blogger John S October 14, 2020 11:20 PM  

Crunchy Cachalot wrote:ESPN's prayin' for a Biden victory and a president-approved bailout.

Disney starts with the radical surgery, thinking they can survive the cancer since they don't realize they are the cancer.


Even if Disney gets a bailout they'll still be looking to cut ESPN. The writing is on the wall that ESPN no longer makes sense as something for Disney to cling onto, it's simply an anchor going all the way to the bottom of the ocean.

Blogger Asun October 14, 2020 11:38 PM  

ESPN bet on the wrong horse too. They put too much chips on NBA while not pursuing NFL or College sports.

Blogger Doktor Jeep October 14, 2020 11:50 PM  

20 million.
I'm not the only one realizing how much better life would have been without the influence of mass media. Every day I have to live with every memory of zigging when I should have zagged, so to speak.
Some people might go back in time to take out Hitler. Owen would try to talk him into homesteading. I would be hunting down the inventors of the TV.

Blogger Doom October 15, 2020 12:01 AM  

The question is, is ESPN forced, somehow, to be woke? Did players push the issue, owners? Or did big money, corporate, push this through. Or... is it a government requirement, hidden in laws and rules and such? I have to wonder if quotas, and interracial quotas, in advertising, isn't a requirement by law. Similar to requiring queers and women in leadership roles, and such, in everything from movies to television.

Now, was that meant, whoever/whatever is forcing, pushing, and shoving that, doing it to brainwash, or to kill the mediums? They really had to know it would fail. No one is truly that stupid. Not that all who are middlemen on up... at least of the world and worldly, get that they are cutting their own throats, but many must. Most. I suppose getting theirs before the cull? Very few don't realize they have killed the golden goose. They knew.

Blogger Emmanuel October 15, 2020 1:00 AM  

ESPN relied on exclusivity for all high profile sports events, hence the huge TV rights they paid. If the money goes down, they could rescale to lower fees sports events (say, whatever coporate soccer leagues, Finnish hockey, pro LoL games or even whogivesashit voleyball). Putting 2 dudes on a desk with microphones costs close to zero (guess what : you'll get passionate commenters happy to comment matches for close to minimum wage).

By cutting on production values and licensing fees, it is perfectly possible to propose live sports content for cheap. The next LeTron James may not be able to afford his Lamborghini, but who cares. Not sure if XFL will be a major hit, but the monopoly system of exclusive broadcasting rights coupled with monopoly pro leagues could go down in flames. Would be fun.

Blogger John Rockwell October 15, 2020 1:47 AM  

Get woke and get broke. But I do wonder. Why the Prometheans are going full hog?

They stopped caring?

Blogger Arthur Isaac October 15, 2020 3:14 AM  

Remember when someone joked about ESPN Ocho? Glory days.

Blogger Crunchy Cachalot October 15, 2020 3:50 AM  

@28 - That's why I wrote ESPN was praying for the bailout. Disney doesn't need one (yet), but if Disney does cut them loose, ESPN will be flailing about for any life line. If they lose their Most Favored Channel status with providers, not an unlikely event given they're now becoming a burden rather than a draw, ESPN is toast.

Blogger Mr.MantraMan October 15, 2020 6:45 AM  

A long but good article including the comments over at Outkick about the woes of the NBA just leads me to believe that the self important clowns of pop culture and Big Sports ain't producing the juice for all the efforts at the squeeze.

Thank you Corona-chan/BLM/SJW for exposing this malignant silliness. Conservatives either being inert social fungus or near brainless followers of pop culture could never have even thought of freeing the nation of this social cancer, appealing to authority won't rid you of that authority and it needs to go.

Blogger Avalanche October 15, 2020 7:58 AM  

@31 "No one is truly that stupid."

Hmmm, guessing you don't hang out around/watch the majority of folks, eh? Why do you think we-all sit at Vox's knee to learn to use rhetoric better?

Because many millions of people really ARE that stupid! And who is it says you must have a certain level of IQ and edumacation to be able to convince yourself of the idiocies taught in colleges? You may not waste your time watching the young Rightists tricking college students and a few 'protestors' of their own brainwashing by reading quotes "from Trump" -- and then after they have maligned Trump -- whipping out the actual source: getting whines and horror by attributing quotes from RBG on filling her seat "AS IF" Trump; and then cutting their knees out is quite funny.

As are the multiples of parts of Trump's economic plans "as" Biden's' or RoundHeels Harris's law-and-order, lock' em up quotes "as" Trump's. The pole-axed, deer in the headlights, stumbling to recalibrate is sheer joy...

If the 'adjusted average IQ' for European-derived folks is 100, then many many Euro-derived folks are well below that; and the average for other subspecies further below that.

We smart-folks tend to preferentially hang out with other smart-folks, because the dumb ones are so painful. Can make having a good intuitive/experiential sense of 'what's out there' quite flawed.

Blogger Damelon Brinn October 15, 2020 8:04 AM  

The question is, is ESPN forced, somehow, to be woke?

Do you know any woke individuals? Are they being forced to be woke? Generally not. There's one at my work. Everything about him says he should be on our side: skin color, occupation, community, etc. The woke group he wants to be part of wouldn't let him in their meetings. Yet there he is. Something he was born with or that happened to him growing up twisted his reality. Companies like ESPN have a critical mass of such people, who steer them to their own purposes.

Blogger Bezzle October 15, 2020 8:30 AM  

@5. Crunchy Cachalot October 14, 2020 7:01 PM
Disney starts with the radical surgery, thinking they can survive the cancer since they don't realize they are the cancer.

Be careful shorting "SJW" companies if they still hold considerable IP assets (note that Disney is still a $230 billion market-cap company despite the known liabilities on its books). The "cancer" lies entirely in personnel, and those can and will be dismissed with alacrity once it again becomes political permissible to do so.

==
33. John Rockwell October 15, 2020 1:47 AM
Get woke and get broke. But I do wonder. Why the Prometheans are going full hog? They stopped caring?

Oh they care, but they don't have a choice: They're being blackmailed (by threat of DECLAS) into behaving in the most repellant way possible, rather than the slow-but-steady frog-boiling that has served them well for centuries.

Blogger Apoliteia October 15, 2020 8:32 AM  

@26 A bit off-topic, but you describing that loss of descriptive reporting reminded me of some old newspaper clips I found stashed by my great-grandfather between pages of one book. They were mostly about funerals and communal anniversaries, but the same attitude was there.

It was heartwarming to read about speeches given and (in case of the funerals) long-time friends and business partners giving their last greetings to the deceased. Who gave wreath on behalf of whom and so forth. I felt nearly having been there myself, listening to those men and women, all dead for decades now, and previously strangers to me. Even the hymns sung were reported in respective order. Just beautiful.

I guess sports match reports are (were?) the last bastion of that eloquent, ebb-and-flow newsmanship that makes the reader feel like partaking the event. To a child of these more brutish times reading those pieces, probably very simple and obvious to their writers, felt nearly - magical.

Blogger CarpeOro October 15, 2020 9:04 AM  

Been years since I watched Kramer. As usual he is late to the party.

Blogger wEz October 15, 2020 9:51 AM  

If I want sports highlights I just watch 10 mins condensed highlights on youtube.
Only the plays that matter and no commercials. I'd they take that away oh well. Sports are converged like everything else. They can burn like the rest.

Blogger Unknown October 15, 2020 10:15 AM  

Several years ago I had a discussion with a charter (cable co) salesman, tying to interest me in buying thier product. I told him flat out I didnt watch sports or QVC-style shows, so why would I pay X amount for all those channels I dont want? I also asked when they would go to Ala Carte ordering of channels. His response was that I could program the remote to skip those channels I didnt want to see, (a non answer) and that those channels were bundled in the basic packages. That told me i would be paying ESPN, and thier ilk regardless of my wishes. The 20 million drop probably relates directly to people either a)out of work or making less due to shutdown insanity, and those who have finally realized what poison has been pumped into their homes. My guess is more the first than the second, but anything that helps slay the beast is welcome.

Blogger Ska_Boss October 15, 2020 10:36 AM  

Huh thats weird, my comments in some of the previous threads never appeared. Shadowbanned? Probably just an oversight.

Blogger Chip Hazard October 15, 2020 1:01 PM  

Hahahahah, speaking of ESPN, where in the world is Roy Firestone when they need him?

Blogger Oswald October 15, 2020 3:24 PM  

As far as I'm concerned selling and preaching don't go together. You choose one and you stick with it. ESPN started off selling and then they started preaching at us, and now they got nothing.

Same goes for preachers: they should stay out of the selling business. They don't go together.

Blogger Macs October 15, 2020 6:28 PM  

I don't know why these channels can't make sports interesting, there are always good narratives going on behind the surface that I miss as a casual fan. Of course they ignore them and I only find out about the interesting stuff from comment threads on reddit. Reddit itself is on decline though and has driven off many of the smart ones. Hell, I almost got banned from a video game sub just for saying trans women aren't biological women. The cancer spreads...

Blogger Harambe October 16, 2020 2:09 AM  

For some weird reason, pirate streams of live sports are less choppy than the official ones. Not that I'm condoning piracy or anything.

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