On ESPN’s (and other networks’) subscriber losses – August 2016 edition

 

This is an update to a somewhat regularly posted series usually headlined “How Many More Homes is ESPN in than FS1 and NBC Sports Network?” If you want to get straight to the tables, scroll down.

To address the most frequently asked questions about these posts:

Question: does this count streaming services like Sling TV and Playstation Vue?

Answer: NO!  A lot of people must ask this questions because at some point this year Nielsen added a boilerplate tab to the spreadsheet that includes the following text:

Homes receiving a cable network via traditional wired MVPDs, DBS (and satellite) and Telcos contribute to these estimates. Broadband only homes or homes receiving via, non-traditional providers, for example, Sling TV or Sony Vue etc. do not contribute to these estimates at this time.

This begs another, but not frequently asked, question: how come ESPN’s PR department isn’t even a little active about noting the subscriber numbers don’t include streaming services like Sling & Vue?

My guess: it’s not worth bothering to spin it. Losses to the streaming services might account for a significant chunk of the losses over the last year or so, but they definitely don’t explain the longer term trend over the last 5 years.

Question: can’t you just chalk up all of ESPN’s losses to people quitting cable?

Answer: NO-ish.  You can chalk up a lot of the losses to that, but not all of the them. Even if you changed the question to “can’t you just chalk up all of ESPN’s losses to people quitting cable and switching to streaming services?” it doesn’t quite add up.

CNN is a good comparison here as it’s widely distributed and on the same streaming services as ESPN:

Net#Homes Jul 2011 (000)Aug 2016 (000)Change since 2011 (000)
CNN101,10291,965(9,137)
ESPN100,12788,781(11,346)

Question: It’s all cord cutting!

Answer:  OK that’s an exclamation not a question, but it’s an exclamation that gets exclaimed a lot. My answer is I doubt it.  Some cord cutting for sure but I continue to think it’s mostly older households dying off (literally) that aren’t being replaced by younger households (AKA: Cord-never-ing.)

On to the tables — sports nets on top, followed by all cable networks in alphabetical order.

Nielsen cable (includes satellite & telco services) coverage estimates for the measured cable sports networks for August 2016

Note: NFL Network’s decline is almost certainly a result of its carriage dispute with Dish Networks which was resolved on Tuesday after the August estimates were published.

If you’re on a mobile phone these tables should be much easier to read if you tilt your phone to landscape mode.

Network nameEstimated # of Homes (000)Coverage %Feb 2016 Estimate (000)Change Since Feb (000)
BEIN SPORT23,55420%25,161(1,607)
BEIN SPORT ESPANOL18,07316%17,856217
ESPN88,78176%90,988(2,207)
ESPN288,65176%90,879(2,228)
ESPNU70,42261%70,733(311)
FOX DEPORTES22,35919%22,099260
FS182,70271%84,166(1,464)
FS251,44344%50,801642
GOLF CHANNEL75,09665%76,477(1,381)
MLB NETWORK66,10557%66,01887
NBA-TV53,74646%53,384362
NBC SPORTS NETWORK82,94171%83,022(81)
NFL NETWORK63,41754%69,634(6,217)
UNIVISION DEPORTES47,18141%47,09388
Total Cable97,79684%99,274(1,478)

Nielsen August 2016 coverage estimates for all measured cable channels in the national panel:

Network nameEstimated # of Homes (000)Coverage %
A&E NETWORK91,05678%
ADULT SWIM91,43679%
AMC91,03578%
AMERICAN HEROES CHANNEL (Formerly MILITARY CHANNEL)56,47649%
ANIMAL PLANET89,61977%
BABY FIRST TV53,06746%
BBC-AMERICA76,40666%
BEIN SPORT23,55420%
BEIN SPORT ESPANOL18,07316%
BLACK ENTERTAINMENT TV84,30872%
BOOMERANG44,98939%
BRAVO87,53975%
CENTRIC51,42244%
CHILLER37,62532%
CLOO (Formerly SLEUTH)24,59121%
CMT79,30468%
CNBC88,95376%
CNN (Formerly CABLE NEWS NETWORK)91,96579%
CNN / HLN92,99780%
COMEDY CENTRAL89,87377%
COOKING CHANNEL (Formerly FINE LIVING)65,15356%
DESTINATION AMERICA (Formerly PLANET GREEN)55,22747%
DISCOVERY CHANNEL92,19779%
DISCOVERY EN ESPANOL6,0715%
DISCOVERY FAMILIA5,5075%
DISCOVERY FAMILY CHANNEL (Formerly THE HUB)64,83556%
DISCOVERY LIFE CHANNEL (Formerly DISCOVERY FIT & HEALTH)46,69540%
DISNEY CHANNEL91,91479%
DISNEY JUNIOR73,04263%
DISNEY XD (Formerly TOON DISNEY)76,56666%
DIY NETWORK60,62152%
E! ENTERTAINMENT TV90,21278%
EL REY39,53334%
ESPN88,78176%
ESPN288,65176%
ESPNU70,42261%
ESQUIRE NETWORK (Formerly STYLE)66,47957%
FM (formerly NUVO TV)36,15631%
FOOD NETWORK93,12580%
FOX BUSINESS NETWORK83,88472%
FOX DEPORTES22,35919%
FOX NEWS CHANNEL90,44878%
FOX SPORTS 1 (Formerly SPEED)82,70271%
FOX SPORTS 2 (Formerly FUEL)51,44344%
FREEFORM (Formerly ABC FAMILY)89,82077%
FUSE66,06457%
FX90,39578%
FX MOVIE CHANNEL56,05848%
FXX (Formerly FOX SOCCER CHANNEL)80,50169%
FYI (Formerly BIOGRAPHY CHANNEL)67,14058%
GALAVISION66,76257%
GOLF CHANNEL75,09665%
GREAT AMERICAN COUNTRY58,12450%
GSN77,46367%
HALLMARK CHANNEL88,56676%
HALLMARK MOVIES & MYSTERIES (Formerly HALLMARK MOVIE CHANNEL)66,50957%
HBO – THE WORKS35,35130%
HBO PRIME34,85930%
HEADLINE NEWS91,18178%
HISTORY91,65879%
HOME AND GARDEN TV91,31378%
IFC TV (Formerly INDEPENDENT FILM CHANNEL)69,54560%
INSP (Formerly THE INSPIRATIONAL NETWORK)81,64470%
INVESTIGATION DISCOVERY (Formerly DISCOVERY TIMES)84,99273%
LIFETIME MOVIE NETWORK77,90267%
LIFETIME TELEVISION91,16878%
LOGO49,94143%
MAXPRIME20,55518%
MLB NETWORK66,10557%
MSNBC90,14677%
MTV (Formerly MTV: MUSIC TELEVISION)88,48176%
MTV CLASSIC (Formerly VH1 CLASSIC)55,04947%
MTV276,26166%
MULTIMAX20,91518%
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CHNL89,18077%
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC WILD57,59049%
NBA-TV53,74646%
NBC SPORTS NETWORK82,91471%
NBC UNIVERSO (Formerly MUN2 CABLE)44,10438%
NFL NETWORK63,41754%
NICK JR (Formerly NOGGIN)72,01362%
NICK-AT-NITE90,23478%
NICKELODEON90,23478%
NICKTOONS63,45555%
OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK (Formerly Discovery Health)79,23168%
OUTDOOR CHANNEL38,53133%
OVATION NETWORK46,60240%
OXYGEN MEDIA76,48666%
POP (Formerly TV GUIDE NETWORK)76,81766%
REELZCHANNEL66,05057%
RFD-TV42,67037%
SCIENCE (Formerly SCIENCE CHANNEL)70,86261%
SHOWTIME29,51925%
SHOWTIME PRIME29,18825%
SMITHSONIAN37,41032%
SPIKE TV86,22074%
SPORTSMAN CHANNEL31,87427%
SPROUT58,34950%
STARZ31,38327%
STARZ ENCORE (Formerly ENCORE)39,42734%
STARZ ENCORE PRIMARY (Formerly ENCORE PRIMARY)37,30232%
STARZ PRIMARY30,07926%
SUNDANCE TV (Formerly SUNDANCE CHANNEL)59,74651%
SYFY90,14077%
TBS NETWORK92,09679%
TEENNICK (Formerly THE N)69,65760%
THE CARTOON NETWORK91,43679%
THE WEATHER CHANNEL85,60374%
TLC90,52178%
TRAVEL CHANNEL85,94574%
TRU TV (Formerly COURT TV)87,66675%
TURNER NETWORK TELEVISION90,80178%
TV LAND88,07676%
TV ONE58,24250%
UNIVISION DEPORTES47,18141%
UP (Formerly GMC)69,63960%
USA NETWORK92,12979%
VELOCITY (Formerly HD THEATER)69,56660%
VH188,15576%
WE TV (Formerly Womens Entertainment)84,82873%
WGN AMERICA (Formerly Superstation WGN)71,50761%

The curious can find the less text-y previous editions here.

 

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