Yes, ESPN lost more than 500k subscribers last month; No, people are not cancelling ESPN, they’re cancelling cable

The sports world and right-wing conspiracy world were set ablaze yesterday when Nielsen’s monthly cable subscriber reports were released, with the biggest news that ESPN lost more than 500k subscribers last month, bad news for ESPN.

Well that news prompted noted idiots like Clay Travis and Sarah Palin to chime in on Twitter, with them practically dancing to the news that the World Wide Leader lost half a million subscribers.

Let’s be clear, that’s not good news for ESPN. But ESPN was not the only ones affected by the release of the new numbers yesterday.


Are all of those stations political too?

Even more damning, take a look at the year-to-year numbers here provided by Sports TV Ratings. Look at any sports channel, look at Fox News, look at MSNBC.

Look who is down even bigger over the last year than ESPN….that’s right Fox News. And yet Clay, Sarah and others don’t mention that because /shrug/ and because it doesn’t fit the narrative that they have, which is hate ESPN, ask questions later.

Listen, there’s a lot of things ESPN has done wrong over the years, mainly too many shows with people yelling. But to act like they are the only cable TV station losing subscribers is a joke. ESPN just gets all the attention because they overspent for the live rights to stuff like the NBA, MLB, NFL, and college football, so every subscriber they lose is money that they no longer have. Remember that ESPN has the highest cable rights fee, getting roughly $7 a month from any person with cable, whether they watch the channel or not.

And there’s the larger point. Again, take in all of those numbers. ESPN, down. FS1, down. Golf Channel, down. NBCSN, down. NFL Network, WAY DOWN. Fox News, Down. MSNBC, down.

It’s not just ESPN, and for people to act like it is, is just plain ignorance, or putting on blinders to only see things the way you want to see them.

Nobody is cancelling just ESPN. You can’t.

Go ahead, call up your local cable provider right now and tell them, “I’d like to cancel ESPN.” They’ll probably tell you either, A. We can’t cancel just ESPN, or, B. OK, but you’re going to also lose /rattles off list of channels you watch/ because we’ll have to drop you to our most basic package that doesn’t have ESPN. You can’t just cut ESPN and ESPN alone from your cable, or any channel for that matter.

You can stop watching and #BoycottESPN or whatever people outrage over these day, but unless you cancel your cable subscription, they are still getting your $7 every month, or however much your channel of choice charges the cable company every month for its services, whether you watch the channel for 500 hours or five seconds.

The point of all this is that people are cancelling CABLE, not ESPN. They are cancelling cable as a whole, and why not. It’s insanely expensive, if you’re a sports fan and want all the channels that say DirecTV or Comcast offer, you’re easily over $100 a month, just for cable, then you have to tack on internet, and that price may only be good for a year then goes way up. The companies that offer cable and their customer service are just terrible an impossible to deal with.

But more than anything young people who grew up with cable in their parents homes, aren’t buying cable and are finding other ways to watch the shows they want. That’s either through Netflix, Hulu, sharing someone’s password to watch whatever channel they want online, or buying streaming cable. All of those things don’t require you to call a cable company, get charged $100 to have someone install it, get charged $5 a month for a cable box, then another $5 a month to get channels in HD. You can get Hulu, Netflix, And almost every sports channel through something like YouTube TV, plus your internet for around $100 a month total. And there’s no installation, rate hikes, weird fees, or other crap that nickle and dimes you at every turn.

Or people can just go to a bar if the game is big enough and have drinks there while they watch the game. Shit, depending on your phone carrier you can get free MLB games, or free NFL games. The point is, people have different ways to watch things in the 21st century, and don’t need cable to watch the things they want, like they needed to even just 10 years ago.

So yes, ESPN did lose more than 500k subscribers in April. But so did a lot of other channels. Please try to remember, people are not cancelling ESPN, they are cancelling cable.



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