The thing thats killing ESPN is the fact that NBC and FOX have launched their own sports channels and they have bid on the big games. And gotten them!
NBC Sports covered 1/3 of the NASCAR races and a host of NFL games.
Specifically what is killing ESPN is that the majority of their income is directly derived from cable subscribers. ESPN is the MOST EXPENSIVE channel by far. The cable companies currently pay ESPN approximately 6 dollars PER SUBSCRIBER. This is down from a high of over 8 dollars per subscriber. The loss of ESPN's "per subscriber fee" is due to the cable subscribers losing customers. Because the majority of ESPN's viewers come from cable subscribers, the loss of these subscribers means less total viewers for ESPN, which is the main ingredient in the formula that calculates the "per subscriber fee."
ESPN has been planning for years as to how they will combat the eventuality of losing more and more of these cable viewers. There are many alternatives being considered, but shaving their overall budget has been ongoing as they are trying to make sure they stay in position to retain the biggest events in sports. They spent record breaking dollars for the sports that they have, and they plan on keeping them.
I don't think that they have given up much of what they wanted to be quite honest.
Regarding Nascar, their ratings have been dumping for years, and NBC only took what they did to replace the golf events that they lost to CBS.
NFL ratings are still great comparatively to the shows they are going up against, but much lower than compared to years past.
All this to say, because of the slog of channels and content that we have available, expect more of this as each channel will have less and less viewers as we have more and more choices.
Well, the first thing to do IS to downsize. Disney pretty much has to recreate the ESPN business model, because its business model has been sorely outdated for years. Disney is in the process of launching their Disney subscription app, and if that is successful as a standalone subscription app, then they should do the same for ESPN. The only thing, however, is that eventually, the consumer will become so inundated with subscription apps, that they'll wind up spending more money on streaming apps than if they just went with cable.
It's going to be interesting how all of this shakes out. Especially when you throw in the issues with net neutrality. If the internet isn't an open internet anymore, then that's going to throw a big monkey wrench in the hole process, IMHO.
I think if ESPN has availability to cord cutters for a decent price, that solves the issues with ESPN. I think with a lower overhead and still providing high level sports entertainment, all the while not needing the cable company to push their product, then ESPN will survive. Because, it's not just ESPN that has issues with the cable and satellite companies. We see messages quite often how our local broadcast stations risk going dark because of the back and forth disagreements between the broadcasters and the pay tv companies, and quite often, you'll see a deal struck within the last hour or that channel actually goes dark for a few days. People don't want to rely on the cable or sat companies anymore. They know all channels can be broadcasted via IPTV, and that's the direction TV is going. Even OTA TV will go this route as well.
Now, having said all of that, my wife and I have been cordcutters for over two years. Finally last week, my wife asked if there was anyway we could get the Hallmark channel. It means a lot to her to be able to watch her Hallmark Christmas movies this time of year, because that has been a traditional in her family for years. The only way possible was to subscribe to cable TV. It was a the cheapest for us. And it's still costing us double of what we were paying each month for just cable internet, but I figured that would happen. I checked Dish Network, and they're treating Hallmark as a premium channel in which you can only get on their higher tier packages, and I wasn't about to go back with DirecTV because I know the game they play, so we're back with cable for at least a little while. Luckily for us, Spectrum doesn't have any contracts, so we could essentially disconnect in a few months if we were not satisfied. My hope is, by this time next year, the streaming apps will be a bit more mature. I haven't tested out Hulu Live TV or YouTube live TV, but I think with YouTube, you can't watch it on the big screen, and I'm not sure if you can with Hulu Live TV yet either. What we need is Hallmark for the lady, and for me, I really like the idea of being able to pause live TV. I don't think the streaming apps offer that functionality. I know a couple of the apps are testing out an additional DVR service, but I don't know if that works the same as in the traditional sense.