Mailbag: Why are you picking on ESPN? FS1’s #s are down too!


It seems like you and others are biased against ESPN and single out its losses in terms of the number of homes it’s available in, but other networks like FS1 are down big too over the last 6 months.  What gives?

St. Louis, MO

What gives is that ESPN makes so much more per subscriber than the other sports networks — at least five times as much as FS1 based on reported fee estimates — that ESPN’s losses are significantly more significant.

Even if FS1’s losses over the last 6 months were exactly the same as ESPN’s (they’re not, ESPN has lost  743,000 more households than FS1 since February according to Nielsen) ESPN’s losses would still be a bigger deal because ESPN costs at least five times more than FS1.

There are definitely people who are biased against ESPN and are rooting for it to fail, but at least consciously, I’m not one of them.

Others see ESPN as a bellwether for sports in general in terms of how colleges, leagues and players will get paid in the future and that’s a reasonable take.

Clay Travis isn’t alone in predicting gloom and doom for ESPN and sports rights fees in general. I’m not as gloomy and doom-y. Yet.

But keep in mind that when Travis writes things like “Every single cable and satellite subscriber pays around $80 a year for ESPN” that’s not exactly true. What’s true is that cable, satellite and telcos pay ESPN around $80 a year per subscriber according to estimates, but that’s wholesale pricing. You pay retail.


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