ESPN Loses 500,000 Subscribers In 30 Days

ESPN lost nearly 17,000 subscribers a day in the month of April, costing them $48 million in annual revenue - and bringing the total subscriber count down to around 86 million, reports Outkick

Putting that into context, this is $48 million in revenue that ESPN has lost forever. (That’s $8 a month x 500,000 lost subscribers x 12 months in a year).

The loss in subscribers puts ESPN down to just north of 86 million, which is a precipitous decline from the 100 million subscribers the network had as recently as the end of 2011. -Outlook the Coverage

OtC's Clay Travis says that part of the trend may be attributed to the fact that come tax season, penny pinching cable and satellite subscribers cut back, or "whether the end of the NFL, college football, and college basketball causes many sports fans to tune out for the summer."

While the numbers of lost subscribers haven’t been as bad in the past few months, I suspect that’s because ESPN threw such a fit over last year’s numbers that Nielsen slowed down its subscriber attrition data for several months to make sure they weren’t off in their data measurements. -Outlook the Coverage

Here's ESPN compared to other networks:

Meanwhile, the NFL network is regretting its decision to bring Thursday night football to Fox - resulting in its former network Comcast, which owns NBC, kicking them into a lower programming tier. This caused the network to also lose nearly half a million subscribers. 

That said, ESPN's loss is more notable considering the dollar figures involved:

The larger story here remains that ESPN, which is the most expensive channel on cable by far, loses more than any other channel with cord cutting because their revenue takes the biggest hit. That’s easy to illustrate by using FS1 as an example. FS1 brings in roughly $1 a month in subscriber fees so losing 328,000 subscribers would cost it just shy of $4 million total a year. Whereas ESPN 500,000 lost subscribers cost it $48 million a year.

Given that ESPN costs three times what every other channel costs — and given the substantial fixed rate costs involved with its insanely overpriced and paid sports programming schedule — the network needs to be saving money wherever it can.

So it’s probably a good thing the network isn’t spending $35 million a year on a brand new New York City studio and paying three people $15 million a year to host a show whose ratings are declining by 20% over the much cheaper show they replaced. -Outlook the Coverage

Between cord cutters and penny pinching subscribers, ESPN better think of a solution to their dwindling subscriber base, and fast.