Failures

by Karl Bode


Filed Under:
cord cutting, espn, sports, standalone, streaming

Companies:
disney, espn



ESPN Still Isn't Quite Getting The Message Cord Cutters Are Sending

from the more-of-the-same dept

We've noted repeatedly how ESPN has personified the cable and broadcast industry's tone deafness to cord cutting and TV market evolution. The company not only spent years downplaying the trend as something only poor people do, it sued companies that attempted to offer consumers greater flexibility in how video content was consumed. ESPN execs clearly believed cord cutting was little more than a fad that would simply stop once Millennials started procreating, and ignored surveys showing how 56% of consumers would ditch ESPN in a heartbeat if it meant saving the $8 per month subscribers pay for the channel.

As the data began to indicate the cord cutting trend was very real, insiders say ESPN was busy doubling down on bloated sports licensing deals and SportsCenter set redesigns. By the time ESPN had lost 10 million viewers in just a few years, the company was busy pretending they saw cord cutting coming all the while. ESPN subsequently decided the only solution was to fire hundreds of longstanding sports journalists and support personnel, but not the executives like John Skipper (since resigned) whose myopia made ESPN's problems that much worse.

Fast forward to this week, when Disney CEO Bob Iger suggested that Disney and ESPN had finally seen the error of their ways, and would be launching a $5 per month streaming service sometime this year. Apparently, Iger and other ESPN/Disney brass have finally realized that paying some of the least-liked companies in America $130 per month for endless channels of crap has somehow lost its luster in the streaming video era:

"There are signs that young people are coming into multi-channel television. People that were once called or thought to be cord-nevers are starting to adopt less expensive over-the-top packages," Iger said.

Who knew? Did you know? I certainly didn't know. Bloomberg, meanwhile, informs us that the company's new service is "Iger's bet on the future":

"If anything it points to what the future of ESPN looks like,” Iger said on a conference with investors. β€œIt will be this app and the experience that it provides."

But will it? There's every indication that ESPN's still only paying lip service to innovation. What consumers say they want is the ability to either avoid ESPN entirely, or buy ESPN the channel on a standalone basis. But it's important to point out that's not what ESPN is actually offering here. The new streaming service won't provide access to ESPN's existing channel lineup unless you have a traditional cable subscription. Without a traditional cable TV subscription, users of the app will be directed to other content they may or may not actually want:

"The over-the-top service will roll out sometime in the spring, in tandem with a redesign of Disney's ESPN app. The over-the-top feature will be one part of that app, allowing users to watch live programming that will not otherwise be available on any of its channels. "The third feature is a plus service, we're calling it ESPN Plus, that will include an array of live programming that is not available β€” live sports, live sports events β€” not available on current channels," Iger said in an exclusive interview on CNBC's "Closing Bell."

This is something ESPN already tried once with the launch of ESPN 360 (ultimately renamed just ESPN 3) years ago. That channel offered access to streaming sports content, but not any of the content anybody was actually interested in (unless you're really crazy for men's professional hopscotch). What users want is either the option to buy ESPN as a standalone channel, or to avoid ESPN entirely. What ESPN's offering is a streaming channel retread filled with content viewers probably didn't ask for. All, again, because ESPN is afraid of cannibalizing its traditional viewership numbers by trying something new.

Admittedly ESPN is stuck between a rock and a hard place with no real easy options. ESPN currently makes $7.21 for each cable TV subscriber, many of whom pay for ESPN begrudgingly. Many industry insiders also have told me over the years that ESPN's contracts with many cable providers state that should ESPN offer its own streaming services, cable providers will no longer be bound by restrictions forcing them to include ESPN in their core lineups, which will only accelerate the number of skinny bundle options being offered without ESPN.

In short, if ESPN offers a standalone version of ESPN, it only encourages customers to cut the cord and move to less expensive (and less profitable) alternatives. If ESPN doesn't give customers what they want, they'll cut the cord out of frustration. But if ESPN actually wants to be ready for the future, getting out ahead of the inevitable shift to streaming is the only real solution. Nobody said evolution would be painless or the traditional cable TV cash cow would live forever. ESPN has the option of getting out ahead of the trend, or playing from behind later on when the cord cutting trend shifts from a trickle to a torrent.


Reader Comments

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  • icon
    hij (profile), 9 Feb 2018 @ 6:34am

    Something other than football or basketball

    And I still cannot watch curling without having to run through a VPN to Canada. One of these days the CBC will stop blocking the US....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      P, 12 Feb 2018 @ 4:27pm

      Re: Something other than football or basketball

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      PRMan, 12 Feb 2018 @ 4:29pm

      Re: Something other than football or basketball

      Have you tried NBCOlympics.com or the Roku app?

      You can watch any sport you want with any competitors live or after the fact.

      No need to VPN to Canada.

      If you don't have NBC, pay for 1 month of Sling ($25) or YouTubeTV ($35) or Vue ($39) or DirecTV Now ($35). Or get a 7-day trial of each of them and watch for free.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Feb 2018 @ 6:58am

    Techdirt with lame topics spaced 3 hours apart yet presumes to advise multi-billion ESPN: "ur doin' it all rong!"

    SAN FRAN MASS EXODUS: 'WE DON'T LIKE SANCTUARY, CRIME, POLITICS'...

    http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2018/02/08/san-francisco-bay-area-mass-exodus-resident s/

    Yeah, link is off-topic, which with Techdirt practically guarantees IS OF INTEREST.


    Oh, if don't like Techdirt, why don't you stay away? What gives you the right to criticize Techdirt?

    I'm an American, I can criticize anyone, and clown Masnick OFFERS this opportunity to the whole world, I don't force him.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Feb 2018 @ 7:04am

      Re: Techdirt with lame topics spaced 3 hours apart yet presumes to advise multi-billion ESPN: "ur doin' it all rong!"

      Dear AC,

      You're doing it all wrong.

      Signed, Everyone Else

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 9 Feb 2018 @ 7:06am

      Re: Techdirt with lame topics spaced 3 hours apart yet presumes to advise multi-billion ESPN: "ur doin' it all rong!"

      "Yeah, link is off-topic"

      Then you are openly inviting you being marked as spam. I will happily oblige, as will everyone else you whine impotently about.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Machin Shin, 9 Feb 2018 @ 7:08am

      Re: Techdirt with lame topics spaced 3 hours apart yet presumes to advise multi-billion ESPN: "ur doin' it all rong!"

      Ok, so your criticizing the site because you can, and one of your complaints seems to be the fact that your allowed to complain here?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Killercool (profile), 9 Feb 2018 @ 7:23am

        Re: Re: Techdirt with lame topics spaced 3 hours apart yet presumes to advise multi-billion ESPN: "ur doin' it all rong!"

        Well, he doesn't understand how someone could value conversation enough to allow the hecklers in, yet still tell people that they aren't required to listen.

        For clarification, see XKCD.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Machin Shin, 9 Feb 2018 @ 7:47am

          Re: Re: Re: Techdirt with lame topics spaced 3 hours apart yet presumes to advise multi-billion ESPN: "ur doin' it all rong!"

          The odd part in this case is that he wasn't complaining about being hidden, but just complaining that he was allowed to comment at all. Really sad when you can get mad because someone let you do something.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 9 Feb 2018 @ 8:48am

            Temper your expectations

            Yeah, don't expect coherency, consistency or even rationality from that individual, you will only be disappointed. Entertainment on the other hand...

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            The Wanderer (profile), 11 Feb 2018 @ 5:06am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Techdirt with lame topics spaced 3 hours apart yet presumes to advise multi-billion ESPN: "ur doin' it all rong!"

            I parse his statement as being that offering people the opportunity to criticize you, when you have the option of not permitting them that opportunity, is stupid.

            I'm not sure I would classify that as a complaint; it looks like more of a criticism.

            An odd and probably ill-founded criticism, but still.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              That One Guy (profile), 11 Feb 2018 @ 7:58am

              "Allowing people to insult you is stupid!" "So we should block you then?" "Anyone BUT me!"

              By that logic, since they seem to do nothing but criticize TD, then TD not only can but should block them from doing so, as that would be the 'smarter' option.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                The Wanderer (profile), 11 Feb 2018 @ 8:59am

                Re: "Allowing people to insult you is stupid!" "So we should block you then?" "Anyone BUT me!"

                Yeah, that would follow.

                I'm sure he'd just evade the blocks and consider himself justified in doing so because he's smart enough to figure out how to do so, but then, I never claimed that the viewpoint was self-consistent.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Thad, 9 Feb 2018 @ 1:19pm

        Re: Re: Techdirt with lame, lame claim to fame. Check it out, I bought a secondhand toaster from a guy who says he knows Brad Pitt. I got me an email from the prince of Nigeria -- well, he sure sounded legit.

        "You're stupid for criticizing a company that's more successful than you are," says guy criticizing a blog that's more successful than he is.

        ...whaddaya know, he did it twice. How many hours did he space them apart?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Feb 2018 @ 7:31am

      Re: Techdirt with lame topics spaced 3 hours apart yet presumes to advise multi-billion ESPN: "ur doin' it all rong!"

      Gulp that ESPN-flavored corporate cock, blue! Chug! Chug! Chug!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      orbitalinsertion (profile), 9 Feb 2018 @ 7:40am

      Re: Techdirt with lame topics spaced 3 hours apart yet presumes to advise multi-billion ESPN: "ur doin' it all rong!"

      Lol, cost of housing is not news for the Bay Area. Sucks when the previous gentry get out-gentrified, doesn't it? And i am sure the whole state will weep when that anti-"sanctuary" person up and leaves. Waa.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Feb 2018 @ 9:36am

      Re: Techdirt with lame topics spaced 3 hours apart yet presumes to advise multi-billion ESPN: "ur doin' it all rong!"

      Wow. So much hate. Of course you have the right to comment. But does mean that you *should* troll?
      *Should* you continue to pour your shame on these posts?
      *Should* you be upset when users mock you?
      *Should* you be incensed that your posts are flagged by users as Tolling?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Feb 2018 @ 9:39pm

        Re: Re: Techdirt with lame topics spaced 3 hours apart yet presumes to advise multi-billion ESPN: "ur doin' it all rong!"

        Blue's the sort of jackass who will mock the rest of us for not pointing a gun at our own foot like he proudly and morally does. Then bitch and scream at us for the gaping hole he's torn into his foot.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Feb 2018 @ 7:03am

    Deny - Project - Rationalize

    Rinse & Repeat

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Feb 2018 @ 7:15am

    $7 / month seems like a bargain

    If you like sports, $7 / month is a pretty good deal. Considering there's extra costs involved in billing individual customers rather than cable companies, they should just sell an over-the-top subscription for $10/month. I hope they have something like this by the time my DirectTV contract is up.

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    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 9 Feb 2018 @ 7:30am

      Re: $7 / month seems like a bargain

      "If you like sports, $7 / month is a pretty good deal."

      The problem is, to get the price that low requires everybody who doesn't like sports to subscribe as well. Without that artificial subsidy, the price is going to be much higher.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Feb 2018 @ 12:27pm

        Re: Re: $7 / month seems like a bargain

        > the price is going to be much higher

        That's okay. Give me a commercial free option and I will pay $30 / month.

        I think the networks are so focused on cord cutters that leave because of cost that they ignore the second wave of cord cutters that are leaving cable because the experience is terrible. I don't want commercials and I want to watch things on my schedule.

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        • identicon
          New Mexico Mark, 10 Feb 2018 @ 5:59am

          Re: Re: Re: $7 / month seems like a bargain

          As someone who "cut the cord" before that was even a term, I'm flabbergasted when I'm visiting someone's house with traditional broadcast/cable/satellite TV packaging and see how much farther things have deteriorated, especially with sports channels. It isn't just an occasional commercial break, it's commercials all the way down. Banners, product placement, recursive commercials, permanent logos onscreen, stats "brought to you by", crawls, brand and product plugs woven into announcers' spiels or character dialogue, etc. It looks like the love child of "all the ways to do bad web site design" and "Inception".

          It is actually a little surreal, and only a "frog in the kettle" analogy seems to adequately explain why anyone would ever watch this stuff, much less pay for it. Maybe people are fooled into thinking they are watching a sports contest. The reality is that the contest is for the minds and wallets of the watchers, and as long as people passively plop down in front of screen for several hours a day, it will never be much of a contest.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Feb 2018 @ 7:51am

      Re: $7 / month seems like a bargain

      Its a terrible bargain if you have no interest in sport, but are still required to pay for what you do not watch just to get the cable channels you want. But then that is the whole problem with cable, paying money for for channels you do not watch.

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      • icon
        Roger Strong (profile), 9 Feb 2018 @ 8:06am

        Re: Re: $7 / month seems like a bargain

        It's an artificial problem. Cable companies can and do allow/restrict channels by individual customer.

        That they require you to bundle ESPN or other unwanted channels with what you do want to watch, is not a technical problem with the medium. It's a business decision, akin to your internet provider allowing/restricting the most popular web sites according to what internet "bundles" you subscribe to.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 9 Feb 2018 @ 8:11am

          Re: Re: Re: $7 / month seems like a bargain

          >It's a business decision, akin to your internet provider allowing/restricting the most popular web sites according to what internet "bundles" you subscribe to.

          With all this cord cutting, shouldn't that be according to what cable bundles you subscribe to. They've gotta up those cable subscription somehow.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Feb 2018 @ 7:19am

    Not everyone wants an app

    Me, for example: no smartphone. I want content that I can access with a web browser, just like all the very useful pirated streams that I've been watching for years.

    I'm willing to pay something reasonable -- either a flat fee or per-event. Note: REASONABLE. But in return I want the events I'm interested in: college basketball -- mens's and women's; the WNBA; the NFL, college football; MLB; the occasional track/field, skiing, and other less-popular sports.

    I'd even pay for some of the ESPN content: "Outside the Lines" is pretty good sometimes. So is "30 for 30". And "Pardon the Interruption" is easily the best commentary on ESPN, much better than anything else.

    But I want it without a cable package. And I want the ability to time-shift, so that I can watch one game live and another simultaneous one later.

    ESPN could be making money off me if they sold this. But they're not making a dime today because I just pirate everything. That's mildly inconvenient, and it doesn't get me everything I want (women's basketball is tough to find) but it doesn't require a cable subscription, it doesn't require an app, and it's good enough that I have zero motivation to change.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 9 Feb 2018 @ 7:58am

      Re: Not everyone wants an app

      Yeah, this 'solution' has some of the same problems that traditional TV has. The program is available when it is live, and not when one might want to watch it. Offering a streaming 'live' event certainly leaves out anyone not able to watch at that time. Oh, and I did not see any mention of an ability to record that 'live' program so one COULD watch it when they had time. Pro Men's Hopscotch is an important segment of the sports viewing audience. Who wouldn't want to memorialize such events for posterity?

      Some profit is better than no profit. While investors might not like that, they will get along with it, eventually, but maybe not with the same enthusiasm as they currently do.

      Closed minded and focused only on what they want, not what their customers, or potential customers want. A formula for...the right to be forgotten, whether they want to be forgotten or not.

      BTW, does Disney own the rights to Back to the Future? Seems like that is where they will wind up, sometime, down the road, when they realize that when the market speaks, vendors in that market should listen.

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      • identicon
        PRMan, 12 Feb 2018 @ 4:33pm

        Re: Re: Not everyone wants an app

        During college football season, I pay $20 a month for Sling. I can watch any game live or about 15-30 minutes after it ends, after the fact.

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  • identicon
    Pixelation, 9 Feb 2018 @ 7:43am

    Profit!

    ESPN execs know that there will always be a demand for ESPN content. They can point out as a comparison, quite correctly, that there are still horse drawn buggy's on the road.

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  • icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 9 Feb 2018 @ 7:56am

    In short, if ESPN offers a standalone version of ESPN, it only encourages customers to cut the cord and move to less expensive (and less profitable) alternatives. If ESPN doesn't give customers what they want, they'll cut the cord out of frustration.

    The former reduces costs for the 58% who don't want ESPN, but do want other channels.

    The latter is an "ESPN tax" raising the prices of other channels, driving consumers away from them. ESPN is effectively shouting "IF WE'RE GOING DOWN, WE'RE TAKING EVERYONE ELSE WITH US!!!"

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  • icon
    Brandon (profile), 9 Feb 2018 @ 9:35am

    That's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it works out for them.

    It's not going to work out for them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Chris ODonnell (profile), 9 Feb 2018 @ 9:46am

    The characterization of ESPN 3 is a little unfair. That service is a godsend if want to follow your Alma Mater's sports teams but didn't go to a Power 5 conference with its own sports network.

    I don't know how much ESPN gets from Hulu but all the ESPN networks are included in the Hulu service for $40 a month. And it automatically DVRs the games from my favorite teams.

    Now if Hulu could just stream an entire game without me having to exit out and come back in 5 times to get past a frozen screen...

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Feb 2018 @ 12:18pm

      Re:

      Is that $40/month for "Hulu including all ESPN networks" or "$40/month for all ESPN networks in addition to whatever fee it is that Hulu charges"?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Andrew D. Todd, 9 Feb 2018 @ 7:45pm

      Phoney Sports.

      The last time I had an "alma mater" relationship with a sports team was in a New England prep school, something over forty years ago. It was quite a small school, enrollment ranging from fifty students up to two hundred, but that was enough to run the courses necessary to get students into good universities. .In a small school, you get to know people who are not like yourself, and learn to treat them as persons rather than objects.

      Our tennis champion had been wrestling with alcohol since the age of eight, and when he pulled himself together and won a match, it was a cause for some celebration. We has a bad scare when a female friend, who was a gymnast, departed the mini-trampoline in an unplanned manner. An ambulance took her off to the hospital, but fortunately she was not seriously injured. Of course, she had had heart surgery in her early teens, and perhaps that made us a bit over-protective. I have a slight eye-hand coordination handicap, which means that my handwriting isn't very good; that I never learned to drive an automobile satisfactorily; that I had a lot of trouble using a typewriter, before word processors came along; and that I am very incompetent at games involving throwing and catching balls. Previously, in Texas, I had played football, but as a center. The quarterback tolerated my erratic ball-snaps because I could keep the rushers off him. However, when I got to the prep school, they did not think much of football. In New England, it is not considered a gentleman's game. Football, like boxing, is a low-prole activity. Gentlemen played tennis, or they climbed mountains. The school was interested in me as a mathematician, and I collected my share of academic prizes, but in sports, I was put into a "duffer's class," with three girls who were not cut out to be gymnasts, figure skaters, or ballerinas. We played badminton, with occasional excursions into bowling and putt-putt golf.

      The school recently sent me a magnet-mascot--logo, a picture of a white horse, and I stuck it up on the refrigerator. It has the indefinable look of something drawn by a very young girl, innocent, and yet full of moral certitude.

      I have attended five different universities, all of them offering the Ph.D. in a wide range of subjects, but organized sports have always been remote. The football players and basketball players lived in their own dormitories. The did not, and could not, take the kinds of courses I took. About the only time one became aware of them, outside of the football field or the basketball court was when they committed very serious crimes: grievous bodily assault, rape, murder, and arson-for-profit. They were slave-gladiators from the Roman arena, in short. If something bad happens to a college athlete, he is completely expendable. You cut him up in pieces and feed him to the dogs. College sports is a mass-entertainment for people who don't play any sports at all. To be a sports fan under those conditions is to accept the spurious in place of the real.

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  • identicon
    Whoever, 9 Feb 2018 @ 10:55am

    ESPN can't afford to get the message

    ESPN lives on the cable fees that non-watchers pay.

    Given the change to opt out of paying for ESPN, I would and I suspect that millions more would also do so. In order to maintain revenue, ESPN would have to increase the subscription cost, which would drive many more to opt out.

    Summary: ESPN has a choice: shrink its revenue drastically, or find a way to get millions of non-watchers to continue paying.

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    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 9 Feb 2018 @ 12:32pm

      They also can't afford NOT to

      Summary: ESPN has a choice: shrink its revenue drastically, or find a way to get millions of non-watchers to continue paying.

      The problem, for them, is that they can either take a hit now and make less money, or slowly but surely keep losing customers as they try to maintain current levels of profitability and drive away customers until they've driven enough away that they aren't making any.

      Make less and stay afloat, or try to make the same and sink. Short term thinking versus long, either adapt or die just like any other industry.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ShadowNinja (profile), 9 Feb 2018 @ 11:23am

    Admittedly ESPN is stuck between a rock and a hard place with no real easy options. ESPN currently makes $7.21 for each cable TV subscriber, many of whom pay for ESPN begrudgingly. Many industry insiders also have told me over the years that ESPN's contracts with many cable providers state that should ESPN offer its own streaming services, cable providers will no longer be bound by restrictions forcing them to include ESPN in their core lineups, which will only accelerate the number of skinny bundle options being offered without ESPN.

    And yet look at HBO. They haven't been hurt by offering HBO Now. Heck, advertisers are constantly offering free HBO for a year if you sign up for an Internet & Cable bundle with them (as if HBO is proof that they're being innovative).

    Given how widely watched ESPN must still be even with the lower numbers, they're hardly going to be completely wiped out by being dropped from the minimum bundle.

    The real problem is ESPN loves the Socialism of cable TV via the guaranteed profits of tens of millions of cable subscribers who never watch ESPN but have to pay for it anyway.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Feb 2018 @ 11:30am

    For the one show I would watch on ESPN Once a year yea its easier to kodi it for far less hassle

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  • icon
    Ryunosuke (profile), 9 Feb 2018 @ 1:02pm

    Exceptionally

    Stupid

    People

    Network

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  • identicon
    Qwertygiy, 9 Feb 2018 @ 1:14pm

    This is just the tip of the iceberg of problems at ESPN. As competing sports networks have been launched by Fox, CBS, and NBC, their own content has slowly shrunk and degraded. In the last 10 years, they have gradually shed their coverage of several dozen motorsports and football leagues, and much of their national coverage of collegiate sports has been reduced in favor of regional rights and secondary channels.

    Additionally, many of the sports themselves have launched their own streaming services and free replays, causing even further dwindling of ESPN watchers. In fact, that's the entire reason ESPN is gaining coverage of Formula 1: NBC didn't want F1's planned streaming service to compete with its own "NBCSN Live" app.

    And of course, there's always the problem of digital piracy. YouTube streamers, Kodi sticks, and various other websites have been and will be streaming ESPN content for years. Many people use them simply because they don't have an affordable option to watch it legitimately, but give them an accessible $10 a month option instead of a $50 a month option and they'll be glad to sign up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Feb 2018 @ 1:23pm

      Re:

      I flagged this as "insightful" because it darn well is. The rise of alternatives means that ESPN is no longer the go-to for a lot of programming. I think they'd be well-served to stop dropping huge amounts of money on fancy sets and talking heads, and return to a simpler model. And I think they'd do well to (cheaply) cover as many under-covered sports as they can, which they once did. (I still remember seeing Australian rules football late on night in the early days of ESPN and wondering WTF it was. I became a fan. Then they stopped showing it.)

      Because other networks are eroding their share, and so are other sports (notably MLB), and so are college conferences (like the SEC and ACC and Big 10).

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  • identicon
    Troy Wilson, 9 Feb 2018 @ 1:44pm

    The technology is there...

    If my cable company can turn on or off the "Premium" movie channels based on my subscription, why can I not just have a list of channels to choose from with checkboxes that allows me to select the channel lineup I want? charge me for each channel or offer me a package of 10, 15, 50 channels and let me choose how to fill that package.

    I would gladly go back to cable for a package like that.

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    • identicon
      Thad, 9 Feb 2018 @ 2:38pm

      Re: The technology is there...

      There was a time when I would have gone back to cable TV if they'd offered a la carte pricing.

      The moment passed. I'm never getting a cable TV subscription again, no matter what they do. It's too late; I've moved on.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Feb 2018 @ 9:44pm

    Gee, that was boring. I cannot imagine why would people waste time watching sports - with or without a cord - instead of doing them.

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  • icon
    Dave Cortright (profile), 11 Feb 2018 @ 12:41am

    Innovator's Dilemma

    Cannibalize your current cash cow for the future, or ride it into the ground and watch an upstart do it to you.

    There aren't too many orgs with the fortitude to pull that off. I doubt ESPN will be able to. Netflix comes to mind, but hey, they freaking *named* the company with the vision they wanted, even when they were shipping physical disks in the mail.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Feb 2018 @ 11:06am

    First world problem.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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