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ESPN Has Seen the Future of TV and They're Not Really Into It (bloomberg.com) 155

From a report: ESPN has lost more than 12 million subscribers since 2011, according to Nielsen, and the viewership erosion seems to be accelerating. Last fall, ESPN lost 621,000 subscribers in a single month, the most in the company's history. In some respects, the challenges facing ESPN are the same that confront every other media company: Young people simply aren't consuming cable TV, newspapers, or magazines in the numbers they once did, and digital outlets still aren't lucrative enough to make up the deficit. But while most of ESPN's TV peers have courted cord cutters -- CBS and Turner Broadcasting, for instance, are allowing anyone to watch some of their March Madness games online for free -- ESPN's view cuts against the conventional wisdom in new media. Essentially, ESPN was hoping that sports will remain unaffected by the growing trend of "cord-cutting." The article adds: If a combination of hockey, low-wattage college sports, and cricket doesn't quite seem worthy of the Worldwide Leader in Sports, that's by design: ESPN doesn't want its new product to draw viewers away from its very profitable cable channel. And, as John Kosner, the network's head of digital and print media notes, when ESPN began broadcasting in 1979, plenty of people doubted whether anyone would want to watch bowling at two in the morning. "I was in college when ESPN started," he says. "I felt sorry for the people working there."
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ESPN Has Seen the Future of TV and They're Not Really Into It

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  • by pteddy ( 4137621 ) on Friday March 31, 2017 @01:24PM (#54152421)
    and I couldn't justify the $80 a month for the basic package plus the $15 for some sports package plus $5 for some other package that gave me access to the games I want. So I just cancelled cable all together. I'd be happy to pay $15 or even $20 a month for just ESPN or some other pared down package that has sports and not the other crap. As it stands now they'd rather have none of my money than less of it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      $80 a month for the basic package

      People pay $80 a month?! For TV?!? Do you even watch it?

      • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Friday March 31, 2017 @02:44PM (#54153255)

        $80 a month for the basic package

        People pay $80 a month?! For TV?!? Do you even watch it?

        I used to pay $59 for ~60 channels -- when they raised it to $69, I decided enough was enough and switched to over-the-air + Netflix.

        It turns out that the over-the-air digital channels look far better than the equivalent cable channels, the cable company used so much compression that digital compression artifacts were clearly visible.

    • by ttsai ( 135075 ) on Friday March 31, 2017 @02:04PM (#54152843)

      and I couldn't justify the $80 a month for the basic package plus the $15 for some sports package plus $5 for some other package that gave me access to the games I want. So I just cancelled cable all together. I'd be happy to pay $15 or even $20 a month for just ESPN or some other pared down package that has sports and not the other crap. As it stands now they'd rather have none of my money than less of it.

      This already exists. SlingTV offers ESPN/2/3 plus TBS/TNT for $20/month (or $14/month with T-Mobile for the first year), in addition to some other cable channels. This also grants access to live/replayed games on the website and phone app.

      • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Friday March 31, 2017 @03:55PM (#54153851)

        ESPN by itself is crap. Way back in the day, it had a lot of actual games - I'm in the U.S., and used to love watching rugby or Australian rules football on ESPN in the middle of the night. But (at least as of three years ago, when I dumped that cable tier) they apparently spend all their budget to pay old retired athletes who sit on panel shows and offer bad "analysis" regarding the sports they used to play.

        Most athletes seemingly have very little insight into the sports they excel at.

        • by ttsai ( 135075 )

          ESPN by itself is crap. Way back in the day, it had a lot of actual games - I'm in the U.S., and used to love watching rugby or Australian rules football on ESPN in the middle of the night. But (at least as of three years ago, when I dumped that cable tier) they apparently spend all their budget to pay old retired athletes who sit on panel shows and offer bad "analysis" regarding the sports they used to play.

          Most athletes seemingly have very little insight into the sports they excel at.

          Well, it all depends on what you find interesting and of value. I imagine that most Americans don't watch ESPN for rugby or Australian rules football. Rather, they watch football, basketball, baseball, and other sports that are more popular in the US. For watching these sports, there is often no substitute for ESPN.

          There are many Americans who don't care for the major American spectator sports. However, there are tens of millions who do and are willing to spend lots of money for TV subscriptions, ticket

        • Most athletes seemingly have very little insight into the sports they excel at.

          I'm not a sports fan but I distinctly remember hearing something while my dad was watching a game.

          Madden: "You see, the problem is he didn't catch the ball. In this sport, it's all about the ball and because he didn't catch it, they don't get to move down the field... [another 5 minutes of "didn't catch" and how important it is]

          Thank you for that insightful analysis, Mr. Madden. How many of those blows to the head did you take as a player?

    • and I couldn't justify the $80 a month for the basic package plus the $15 for some sports package plus $5 for some other package that gave me access to the games I want. So I just cancelled cable all together. I'd be happy to pay $15 or even $20 a month for just ESPN or some other pared down package that has sports and not the other crap. As it stands now they'd rather have none of my money than less of it.

      Yeah, in our family I was the only one watching any of the shows that fell into the second tier, and that was mostly my local MLB team. That wasn't worth $65/month, so I got rid of it. We are not "cord cutters" though because it was a wash to get internet + "local" channels (which somehow included HBO) versus just Internet.

      Also, who wrote this awful "summary"? E.g.

      "ESPN doesn't want its new product to draw viewers away from its very profitable cable channel."

      What new product? I'm assuming the actual article

    • Dear ESPN: I will pay you directly $30 per year to watch college football online. I don't care to see any other sports. I want live or historical access to all football games you film/broadcast//capture.
  • This has happened in several other industries as well. If a market (in this case TV content and sports broadcasts, in particular) moves in a new technological direction, to stay competitive, you have to adapt. Print media has been learning this for a while and still doesn't have it totally figured out - but they are learning. Take what they have done and improve upon it.
    • You really don't have a fucking clue do you.

      THERE'S NO MONEY IN ON-LINE VIEWERSHIP!

      Do you have any fucking clue how much sports programming costs? Monday Night football costs ESPN $1.5 BILLIONS dollars per year! That's just Monday Night football. Then there's NBA, MLB, other professional and college sports.

      So you need a pretty big revenue stream. Revenue from on-line viewers doesn't come anywhere close to cable viewers. Not to mention you can't charge a premium for on-line Ads.

      The problem P
      • by Ken D ( 100098 ) on Friday March 31, 2017 @01:55PM (#54152735)

        And why does sports programming cost so much? Because they bid up the price to unrealistic levels because cable subscribers have no choice but to pay the sports fee. (* this is one of those "plus additional fees x, y and z" that is part of all cable promotional ads.)

        ESPN's cost is one of the big reasons why I cut the cord. Don't watch sports, don't want to pay for sports. Don't want to subsidize the whole sports and sports media industrial complex.

      • by flink ( 18449 )

        If no one is tuning in though, those big revenue numbers are going to go away as advertisers become less willing to pay a premium to appear on Monday night Football. That means the NFL is going to have to get used to less broadcast licensing revenue or cut out the middle man and start streaming directly.

      • Maybe the demand was artificially driven by these omnibus must-carry cable deals. Now that the artificial demand can no longer be enforced the cost to produce needs to come down to reasonable levels that reflect the *actual* demand (e.g., I don't have to help pay some jock's multi-million dollar salary just because I want to watch shows on Syfy.)
      • by Nethemas the Great ( 909900 ) on Friday March 31, 2017 @02:21PM (#54152997)

        Tell that to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO, Crunchyroll, etc. al..

        Professional sports leagues will continue to charge what ESPN is willing to pay. What cable co's have been long ignoring is that ESPN is an anchor that's just dragging them down. A very substantial component of the compulsory part of everyone's cable bill is basic access to ESPN. Sports fans might mind less, but everyone else is stuck with an excessively high subscription rate that subsidizes the cost of channels they rarely watch. It's the stuff cable cutters are born from. We're not talking about healthcare here. Many of us don't mind pulling up the disadvantaged when it comes to such matters. But, we surely do not view the consumption of sports entertainment that way. Pay for your own add-ons.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        No you're the one who doesn't have a clue. Professional sports, like many other industries, have priced themselves right out of the market. Sports used to be entertaining when it was the only entertainment available. Nowadays a population that is struggling to make ends meet every day really doesn't give a shit anymore about over-paid prima donnas who are bitching because they're not getting as many millions as they'd like. And ad companies are fed up of paying for very expensive advertising slots when the
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Do you have any fucking clue how much sports programming costs?

        Probably almost nothing. Give a ball to some kids and you don't even have to pay them to play. Sports was the first reality show, expensive actors replaced with people who work for free.

        Whatever it costs, is going to be spent on cameras.

        I have heard that ESPN's vendors do charge, and their actors make even more than web designers. But that's only because ESPN is rolling in unlimited money without the slightest hint that their revenue will ever b

      • by tsotha ( 720379 )

        Monday Night Football only costs $1.5bn because it draws viewers to advertisements. It doesn't cost anything like that for the NFL to produce, and as it draws fewer and fewer viewers to advertisements the league will lose the ability to command that kind of price for its product. ESPN will survive, the NFL will survive, and players will survive, but everybody is going to make less money.

    • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Friday March 31, 2017 @01:42PM (#54152629) Homepage Journal

      To quote Steve Jobs, "If we don't cannibalize ourselves, someone else will."

      The reason large companies eventually collapse is almost never because they make stupid mistakes or because they fail to churn out new products, but rather because they start to fear innovation; when part of their product line becomes too lucrative, they begin to fear that their next product will undercut their cash cow, forgetting that the money still goes to the same place, like taking rocks from the underside of a cliff and cementing them to the top side.

      To prevent that undercutting, they build up silos that keep anyone from building up the land (money pile) under the cow, preventing the sorts of innovation that would otherwise keep them on the cutting edge. Instead, other companies create products that whittle away at the cliff underneath the cash cow and start making their own cow cliffs thicker, and in the end, all the big company has left is a falling cow.

      • by h2oliu ( 38090 )

        I had heard that as an Coca-Cola executive's response to someone asking if having Diet Coke take away from Coke sales was a problem.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Wow! The moo moo you are all cows troll has really stepped up the relevance of hist posts!

      • by rogoshen1 ( 2922505 ) on Friday March 31, 2017 @02:36PM (#54153169)

        that is about the most tortured analogy I've ever read. sheesh! You've got cliffs, and cows, and cash.. how about sticking to cars and libraries of congress?

        • that is about the most tortured analogy I've ever read. sheesh! You've got cliffs, and cows, and cash.. how about sticking to cars and libraries of congress?

          “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
          -Henry Ford

          Now, people are asking for more fuel efficient cars and more roads, and just perhaps what will take over will be something else like a car that doesn't use fuel (electric) or public mass transit that they don't know to ask for or don't think they want.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Look at all these rusted-out cable TV factories! The death of America! Jobs are leaving, they're leaving for Netflix, they're leaving for Amazon! We need to build a wall and make Streaming pay for it!

  • I thought ESPN had wormed their way into every deal so that even if you didn't want them, you were getting them.

    Wouldn't they then be one of the ones 'most' affected by random people cutting the cord?

    • by TWX ( 665546 )

      I was under this impression too, and as far back as I can remember, if I had a cable subscription it had ESPN even though I do not watch sports. If everyone with cable is in this situation then perhaps as high as half of households are paying for a network that they never watch or only watch because they didn't find anything better on TV.

      Way back in the day I had friends that had C-band satellite dishes. They had the problem of the Big Ugly Dish, and they had to have all of the necessary equipment, but th

    • by ArhcAngel ( 247594 ) on Friday March 31, 2017 @01:54PM (#54152729)
      It was Disney (80% owner of ESPN) who did the strong arming of cable companies. They managed to get all cable/sat companies to carry ALL ESPN channels by refusing to license just The Disney Channel. To get The Disney Channel they required the license of the ESPN package as well. And it had to be in the basic/economy tier of service. So while the cable companies are evil, greedy SOB's Disney helped jack up the price of your cable plan just as much. Perhaps Disney has a long term contract with their cable customer (TW, Comcast, et al) and won't be affected for several years.
      • You have the concept but the timing is off. ESPN was not owned by Disney/ABC when it originally was added to basic service.

        What happened is despite what Slashdot readers thing sports is very, very popular in the US. When cable first started growing in the early 80's a lot of households were getting because they wanted to watch ESPN. ESPN leveraged this by insisting that ESPN be included in every basic package and that ESPN got revenue for every subscriber. Joe Six-Pack didn't care he wanted his ESPN. L

        • But the 1992 cable act made it so you can get limited basic + HBO.

          Now you can get HBO on it's own at a price that is lower then most systems rack rate for HBO

        • One additional step in your argument is ESPN also said that if you want any ESPN/Disney programming then you have to put ESPN3 on your internet service at "no additional charge."

          They get money from us cord cutters too as long as your ISP also provides television services to any other customer.
          I would have gone with Sling, but I would have preferred 5 additional channels instead of one ESPN for the same money..

      • The Disney Channel was premium and now it's still premium like no ad's but forced on all of us at about X2 the cost of nick.
        They also own ABC so they can take away your local TV to and force your cable to have espn and more to get ABC.

    • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

      Wouldn't they then be one of the ones 'most' affected by random people cutting the cord?

      Yup. Turns out ESPN isn't nearly as popular a network as they think they are. Now that people can increasingly watch what they want through means besides cable/satellite it's becoming apparent there are lots of people who care nothing about sports. Something the cord-cutters have been saying every time someone wants to bring out a "skinny bundle" channel lineup.

      • The interesting thing is to see how this trickles down to everything ESPN touches.

        I have a feeling that college football profits are just being subsidized by people that really wanted TLC or the History channel but were stuck getting ESPN along with the deal.

  • by beelsebob ( 529313 ) on Friday March 31, 2017 @01:28PM (#54152479)

    They should have seen this coming years ago.

    There's no reason that ESPN couldn't be the go-to source of high quality online streams of sporting events, along with very lucrative ways of monetizing them, if they'd actually thought about this a few years ago.

    • by pteddy ( 4137621 )
      Yup, it'll be Taxis are to Uber and ESPN is to _________.
    • Care to elaborate. I'm sure they would like to know how they could make lots of money when other digital sources fail to.

      You obviously failed to take into consideration the COST OF PROGRAMMING. Contracts to carry sports programming are very expensive.

      Think before you post.
      • by Pascoea ( 968200 )

        I'm sure they would like to know how they could make lots of money when other digital sources fail to.

        Provide a streaming service that allows me to watch whatever NFL, MLB, and NHL games I want to, Live, and I'll happily pay $20-30/month. There is no way that they are getting that much from my cable company. Seems like a win-win.

        You obviously failed to take into consideration the COST OF PROGRAMMING. Contracts to carry sports programming are very expensive.

        CBS, Fox, NBC, etc. are currently paying those costs, and raking in cash from advertising and franchise fees. The advertising isn't going away, and a direct model would most likely put more subscriber money directly into the pockets of ESPN. The main problem is that the entrench

        • NFL wants (and has) its own channel. As does NHL. I wouldn't be surprised if MLB and MLS, MLL and UFC and the rest all start wanting their own channels as well (if they don't have them already).

          The problem is, they are looking to get an extra $10-15 each for them, when the reality is, very few diehard fans are willing to shell out that kind of cash each month, for 12 months, when the season is only 7 months long.

        • MLB.TV $150 per year streaming
          NHL.TV $130 per year streaming
          NFL.TV Not a thing, they would rather have a deal with DirecTV

          The issue is both MLB and NHL have local blackouts because of Regional Sports Networks and they blackout National games.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          What I really want is to not have to commit to a monthly contract. Let me stream whatever game in whatever sport on offer as pay-per-view. Maybe an NFL game would be $2.99, and a sport in less demand could be $0.49. Whatever pricing the market could bear. But I won't commit to a monthly fee, because my sports viewing isn't consistent and I want to be able to watch when I want. Also, I'd like access to some sports that aren't just football, basketball, hockey and baseball, without having to add on "packages"

      • MLB.TV seems to be making some serious cash for MLB. They didn't sell the rights, just created a new on-line product. NHL.TV is also a thing.

    • by TWX ( 665546 )

      Honestly it would make a lot more sense for either leagues to handle it themselves, or for the leagues to establish frameworks so that teams can do it. Such a framework would probably require that raw camera footage from the home team's stadium be provided to the visiting team, such that the two teams each operate their own control booths with their own directors and commentators. Fans could then subscribe to their team's games similarly to how they might purchase tickets to individual games or season tic

      • Any of these team or league or school based approaches would have the advantage of allowing a sports fan to only pay for what they care about.

        Which is exactly why every sports league is fighting the idea tooth and nail. Their revenues have been artificially inflated for years and years by people paying for something they don't want and don't watch.

        Where I am, baseball rules. I'm in a major metro area of nearly 3 million people. The local baseball team is beloved. The local hockey team ekes along. There is no local professional football team. They pulled up stakes and left years ago. The locals don't give a damn about football. But ESPN pr

    • They were aware of this but the problem is that it milking cable is more lucrative at least for now. At the moment everyone with a cable subscription subsidizes ESPN but if they are only selling to people that actually watch their stuff the price is going to have to be much higher in order to meet the same revenue.
      • This will eventually be dealt with by a reduction in wages. ESPN will only garner $200 million of revenue, and won't be able to buy $1 billion of contracts; sports teams will have to stop paying players $36M/year, and instead pay $1-$2 million.

    • They should have seen this coming years ago.

      There's no reason that ESPN couldn't be the go-to source of high quality online streams of sporting events, along with very lucrative ways of monetizing them, if they'd actually thought about this a few years ago.

      They did actually see this coming years ago, but that depends on who I define as "they". If that definition applies to their parent company, the Walt Disney Company, yes Disney certainly did see this coming years ago. I own Disney stock so I follow them as a business fairly well. Disney has made a ton of deals involving ESPN and other properties that show that they, Disney, have seen this coming for a long time. Now if we define "they" as people who work at ESPN itself, yes, they seem to be quite a bit

      • by djinn6 ( 1868030 )

        I am not a 20 year old hipster doofus who has to watch everything on his phone and I have a real job and a real TV with a real cable subscription at my house, I can't really say much about that.

        So you pay extra to have ads shoved down your throat. What a privilege.

    • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

      They should have seen this coming years ago.

      There's no reason that ESPN couldn't be the go-to source of high quality online streams of sporting events, along with very lucrative ways of monetizing them, if they'd actually thought about this a few years ago.

      My university (which I played football at) was the first Division II school to have full streaming rights with ESPN. For the last 2 seasons all home football games were streamed on ESPN, as were events from several other sports. There is no reason why ESPN couldn't do this for hundreds of other schools. Especially since filming and broadcasting/play-by-play duties are handled by the school's regular broadcast staff. Instead of having 8 different cable channels (plus all those alternate channels) that pe

      • "My university (which I played football at)"

        You were an English major there, weren't you?

        • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )
          To be fair, it was a rural Southern University. And I actually only remember taking maybe 1 lit class there since I came in with AP lit credit. I could have been correct and typed "at which I played football", but I tend to type like I talk. Judging by your sig, you'll also love the fact that up until a few years before I attended the school it was affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.
  • by w3woody ( 44457 ) on Friday March 31, 2017 @01:31PM (#54152507) Homepage

    I have ESPN as part of my cable package. I don't watch ESPN. I don't care at all about ESPN. Yet somehow because I have a package I'm getting ESPN. And when the future changes such that I can cancel my cable package and get the channels I actually watch a' la cart, ESPN would be the last channel I subscribe to.

    And I suspect a lot of people are like me: we have ESPN, we're paying for ESPN, but we don't watch ESPN. And I strongly suspects ESPN knows this. So it makes sense ESPN would be worried; suddenly the unsustainability of their economic position--being subsidized by millions of viewers like myself--will be exposed.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      And that's the real problem for the traditional TV dial in the future. For many years networks have been guaranteed on a slot on the dial simply because of the way TV channels have been bundled, but as various forms of a' la cart, the most important being streaming, mature and giants like Netflix and Amazon seem destined within a decade or so to completely swamp traditional cable, these channels are in crisis. And if ESPN falls, then it's going to bite deeply into a lot of the pro sports. I can well imagine

      • Seriously? The NFL is already doing that. They're streaming the London games. So yes they have thought about the future.

        It seems like a bunch of you morons have failed to consider programming costs. Why do you think people are cutting the cord? It's about cost. What drives cost? Programming. So why do you think that Netflix and Amazon will beat Cable, when programming costs are the same. Good quality programming costs money. Period. Why do you think Amazon investors were nervous when Amazon wa
        • There's nothing THAT novel about Netflix. In a way, HBO has been using revenues derived from subscriptions for over forty. And so long as Netflix and Amazon can buy content, they can keep going. Thus far, Netflix is showing pretty strong growth, and while its own productions are still a minority, the fact remains that between the shows it pays directly to produce and the shows it buys a license to broadcast, it's doing pretty damned well.

          And really, what did most of the big networks ever offer? A couple of

      • NFL has all local games + payoffs on OTA TV

      • by tsotha ( 720379 )

        Agreed. Broadcasters are being squeezed on both ends. Not only do customers now have a way to pay for only what they want to watch, but also new content providers aren't crowded off the dial, so the competition for eyeballs will only get more fierce. I haven't seen anything by Netflix yet, but some of the in-house Amazon content is quite good.

        ESPN is in bad shape because sports fandom is pretty much a binary - there are a few people out there who only watch college football, for example, but for the mos

    • http://www.npr.org/sections/mo... [npr.org]

      If more people knew it cost them $5.54 a month just for ESPN there would be a lot more cord cutters.

  • The big players are shooting themselves in the foot via forced bundling and forced big-package deals. There are new and interesting niche sports that the younger generation is learning about, and these sports often offer consumer-friendly viewing options to gain and keep new customers.

    The Internet offers too many alternatives to keep doing it the big-bundle way if you want to grow.

  • It's been covered at Reddit:

    https://www.reddit.com/r/Kotak... [reddit.com]

    • by s.petry ( 762400 )

      It would be very interesting to see surveys and interviews demonstrating how much of an impact it has had. I refused to watch any NFL this year including the Thanksgiving day game, which has been a tradition since I was a kid. (I came from Detroit, we needed one game to look forward to even if we lost).

      One would think that these surveys are being done since the NFL is not the first or worst. I only know plenty of people who don't watch ESPN because it has become propaganda, but my anecdote does not show

    • by tsotha ( 720379 )
      That's part of it, yeah. For whatever reason sports writers and media personalities are pretty far to the left of their audience. That doesn't matter when the sports programming is about sports, but once you start slipping your politics into a broadcast to people who came for sports, you're going to lose subscribers.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ESPN decided to be a soap box for SJW bullcrap instead of sticking to sports. Reap what you sow.

  • by bradley13 ( 1118935 ) on Friday March 31, 2017 @01:38PM (#54152593) Homepage

    I'm in Europe, so it's not ESPOn, but we occasionally watch sports on television. Aside from the fact that young people watch less television, there is also a serious disconnect with what viewers want. I'll be the same applies in the US.

    One example: One of the sports that we watch is tennis. I play tennis. We know how the game goes. A couple of years ago, there was a technical problem, and we could hear the game itself, the crowd, the referee, the players - but no announcers. Bliss . It was almost like being there - heck, with the camera placement, it was probably better than being there.

    The announcers talk about the obvious (yes, thank you, I know that was a fault). They gossip (yes, isn't his wife wearing a nice dress). They blather (I don't care what the weather at the venue was like yesterday). They might be marginally helpful for someone who doesn't know the sport, but surely most people watching an event do, in fact, know what's going on.

    Television here almost always has two audio channels (often used for alternate languages). We wrote to the station, told them of our very happy experience, and suggested that they use one audio channel for the usual experience with announcers, and one channel for just the live "you are there" experience. Surprisingly, we did receive a response: They were insulted. Their announcers provide a valuable service, and they would certainly never broadcast a sports events without that added value.

    That's only one anecdote, but I think it's typical: The people in the broadcast world know what we want, and we had damned well better like it. That is at least part of the reason why their viewer numbers are tanking.

    • That's one thing MLB.TV does a good job at. Under normal circumstances you get to choose from the home or away television feed. And then you get to choose your audio and there's usually five choices: home/away TV audio, home/away radio audio, AND ambient stadium mic.

      When I'm watching but not watching (i.e. multitasking) I usually select the radio announcers for my city. Overall their commentary is better than the TV guys and since they're describing the game for a radio audience I can follow along withou

      • And yet MLB.tv won't let me stream my local team unless I subscribe to the cable channel which carries them.

        I pay for MLB.tv Premium - or I did, until T-Mobile started offering it for free. I'd gladly pay the local carriage fee (the amount the team gets per cable subscriber - currently about $6-7 a month) on top of that if they'd let me stream my local team's games. But no, too many of the teams rely too heavily on local cable deals, so the league sticks its head in the sand. In the end, it's costing them r

        • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

          And yet MLB.tv won't let me stream my local team unless I subscribe to the cable channel which carries them.

          This sort of thing is usually not up to them. They are required to require a cable subscription because that agreement was the only way to get onto the cable networks in the first place.

          It's also why, say, HBO for many years did not have a streaming offering that wasn't also tied to a cable subscription. Fuck the cable companies, their strongarm contract negotiations can screw you over even if you're not their customers.

    • My wife and I are tennis fans as well and have a somewhat similar experience. Often we watch tennis with the sound turned off so that we don't have to listen to the announcers. We've discovered that announcers are a bit of a mixed bag: some are great, some are ok, and some are terrible. We can't stand to listen to Brad Gilbert, Pam Oliver, Cliff Drysdale, or Martina Navratilova. On the other hand, Lindsay Davenport is wonderful to listen to and adds a great deal to the experience.

      Guess which ones work

    • by CQDX ( 2720013 )

      I would pay for that.

      I'd also pay for HD European cycling with complete coverage from start to the podium with minimal commentary from a retired pro (just so I'd know, for example, who's in the break, grade of the climb, etc.) and no stupid life stories or let's look at the countryside like US broadcasters often do.

  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Friday March 31, 2017 @01:38PM (#54152599) Journal

    ESPN Has Seen the Future of TV and They're Not Really In It

    Just sayin.

  • by Higaran ( 835598 ) on Friday March 31, 2017 @01:42PM (#54152625)
    They have the best dodge-ball tournaments, the announcers are hilarious, and the actions is pretty good too.
  • I think that ESPN's decline in viewership is, at least in part, due to its own success. It is killing off the fan base for sports like college football by dictating fan-unfriendly game times.

    I have seen this at my own alma mater. College students don't care about attending college football games, especially when the games start at 11 a.m. or noon, instead of the traditional 1:30 p.m. start time thirty years ago. Older fans hate it too, but we are helpless. The only customer that the major conferences ca

    • by Anonymous Coward
      why, as an adult, are you still watching school sports? you finished school, move on. i dont get this 'murkin-cant-let-go-of-the-past-school-ra-ra-sis-boom-boom amateur sports thing.
  • Another reason. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Oligonicella ( 659917 ) on Friday March 31, 2017 @01:45PM (#54152657)

    Another reason ESPN has seen a hemorrhage of viewers recently is their dive into politics and the decidedly one-sidedness of it.

  • More people watch the fish tank at Leo's pet store.

  • and I plan never to break this record. Watching sports on TV just is not something I ever have enjoyed or ever will enjoy. If everyone at ESPN was eaten alive by cannibals tomorrow, I wouldn't even notice.
  • Young people simply aren't consuming cable TV, newspapers, or magazines in the numbers they once did.

    People still pay for cable TV, newspapers and magazines? They've never heard of teh intarweb?

    Signed,
    young people.

    • Young people simply aren't consuming cable TV, newspapers, or magazines in the numbers they once did.

      People still pay for cable TV, newspapers and magazines? They've never heard of teh intarweb?

      Signed, young people.

      Pretty much any cable internet connection comes with TV channels also whether you want it or not. Newspapers in my area are to the point of delivering them for free if you ask, or if they can convince you to accept having to pick them up and throw them away. Magazines typically still add some value. If a magazine is still around, it probably is providing better information than what you can find online because they have better revenue to pay for the creation of content and is based on providing information

  • Of course, the old test cricket still exists. 5 day matches. 6 day matches for the series end, if necessary. A rest day in the middle of the match. Drinks after first hour of play. Lunch an hour later. Another drinks one after after resumption. Then a strenuous stretch of long 90 minutes before tea. An hour of play after tea. Call it end of the day. Earlier if the umpire decides the light is fading. Rinse and repeat five times. Then the result of the match is .... ..... is a .... resounding draw.

    Now the 20

  • ESPN is also bringing this upon themselves. Sure they have actual games but outside of that, ESPN has become unwatchable. Sportscenter used to be great. You could watch for hours because they just showed highlights. Now, they show the Cavs game, warriors then 15 minutes of talking heads discussing some stupid topic. I timed it one day and 10 minutes into sportscenter, they had shown highlights from a grand total of 3 games.
  • ..because soon, that's going to be the only place people will watch ESPN.
  • Let me start with a little history which will bore you, then I'll get to the idea.

    I'm smack in the middle of Gen X. When I was growing up, we had a remote with volume, power and channel control on it. We had a regular TV, but there was no such thing as a DVR. Video tape recorders were out by the time I was in high school, but there were lots of jokes about how it took an engineer to figure out how to program one. Makes my wonder why I followed the career path I am on.

    "Fast Forward to" (Gen X) "Skip to
  • Charge $20 a month like HBO. and get their worthless channels off my lineup.

    • by xlsior ( 524145 )
      Charge $20 a month like HBO. and get their worthless channels off my lineup.

      They would lose a ton of money over that: ESPN is the most expensive channel in most provider's lineup, and you typically don't have a plan option that doesn't include it. They currently charge providers about $7.50 a month to carry the channel for each of their customers, whether or not they have any interest in ESPN.

      I seriously doubt they could convince a full 1/3+ of the cable/satellite customers to fork over extra money to c
  • It's not "ESPN Has Seen the Future of TV and They're Not Really Into It "

    It's "ESPN Has Seen the Future of TV and They're Not Really In It "

  • These customers were never actually viewers. They were simply former cable subscribers that subsidized ESPN despite having zero interest in watching sports.
  • by reboot246 ( 623534 ) on Friday March 31, 2017 @04:52PM (#54154351) Homepage
    I know I don't watch ESPN because I don't like my sports mixed with politics. Most of the guys I work with (hundreds of guys in five states) and all of my family and friends feel the same way. If we want politics, we'd watch a news channel. Sports, pure sports without any bullshit, would be nice.

    ESPN has become the most politically correct channel on television and it's sickening. Even "Mike & Mike" is unwatchable now.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      The entire crew of Sunday NFL Countdown is now gone. Most left last season, with Chris Berman doing a farewell tour last year. That was pretty much my last reason for watching the channel (after they destroyed SportsCenter by replacing everyone with 20 year old females with _days_ of experience, and none of it in men's sports).

      I've played and watched and loved sports for almost 60 years, and watching what ESPN has become is sickening, and disgusting.

  • I want to defend ESPN in at least one area. I think all of their original documentary programs, most of which are excellent (starting with the "30 for 30" series a few years ago) can be seen for free online. I saw all eight hours or so of the Oscar winning "O.J.: Made In American" that way.
  • I think they may be getting the same lesson the Music industry learned.

    The product is expensive, the work to make it more expensive than it has to be, and many consumers would like to pick and choose which teams and sports they watch rather than buy a large mixed bundle of sports.

    The music industry (for example) worked to make their product expensive -- you had to buy multiple songs.. not just the one you wanted.

    The major ESPN channels are bundled into the almost all cable TV packages -- making them (those

  • How many cord cutters could a cable co court if a cable co could court cord cutters?

  • ESPN's probably is a failure to innovate. Millions of people would happily pay for an unbundled ESPN available online.
    • They've had this for over two years. For $20 a month, you can get ESPN online via Sling.TV. Sure, it's bundled with a few other channels, but the price is good, and it doesn't require a cable TV subscription, and no contract.

  • Today's young people, particularly boys, tend to spend their time playing video games with each other online. They're too busy to watch football, and don't really care about it.

If you didn't have to work so hard, you'd have more time to be depressed.

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