ESPN lost 621,000 subscribes in one month; their worst month ever.
Shiza (shit, in German), that’s a lot of people –at $7 per subscriber per month in revenue.
I’ve been watching the World Series using the fox sports go Apple TV app. All I had to do was “verify” a cable subscription with a login — which of course could be swapped at anytime with a verification from another cable company. Fox now has a direct relationship with me through a technology intermediary that has my credit card. I’m one click from paying Fox a monthly subscription for their content. Or maybe a world series game is $2 to watch. Yes, I’d absolutely pay that.
Live sports is really the only content on TV many deem worth paying for. And if that’s all you value, you’re not likely to continue subsidizing all the other content that you don’t watch/value. You’ll simply cut your entire monthly bill, and watch the games you care about at a friends house or bar, or stream it illegally.
The article is right — why wouldn’t sports leagues simply go direct to the consumer? The answer is they will, which doesn’t bode well for ESPN in a world where distribution isn’t dependent on business development deals but on the hearts and minds of everyday consumers.
Though likely still years off though due to contractual obligations, there will come a time when media outlets such as ESPN, FoxSports, CNN and professional sports leagues like MLB, NFL, MLS, NBA, etc have enough direct relationships with consumers to tell the cable companies to take a hike.
The quicker change will come from new entirely digital TV stations which build their business based on the new, future world where consumers can subscribe direct — meaning they don’t need all the overhead old media companies needed in terms of sales teams and business development.
Apple is going to kill the cable companies — and change the market dynamics for established television media entities — particularly with their recent announcement around enabling better discovery on the Apple TV. A digital “TV Guide” to discover content available across your entire Apple TV. If I’m ESPN, I’d be pretty worried about the future.