×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

ESPN Loses 2 Million Subscribers in Fiscal 2018

ESPN has shed about 2 million domestic subscribers over the past 12 months, according to Disney’s newly released annual report.

ESPN’s total U.S. subscriber base stands at about 86 million, per Disney’s report for its 2018 fiscal year, which ended in September. That sub number compares to 88 million as reported in Disney’s fiscal 2017 report.

Disney Channel has also seen its subscribers ebb to 89 million, down from 92 million in fiscal 2017. Freeform fell by 2 million to the 90 million mark. Disney Junior (69 million) and Disney XD (71 million) both lost 3 million subs.

The numbers, attributed to Nielsen Media Research estimates, indicate that the growth of virtual MVPDs such as YouTube Live and Hulu’s package, are still not enough to offset a net decline in the subscribers from the traditional pay-TV world.

Disney is hardly alone among media giants in feeling the effects of cord-cutting — all of cable TV’s major players have been pinched to some degree by traditional MVPD subscriber losses. Disney and ESPN’s fate have long been seen as an important barometer of the pay TV marketplace given their industry-leading status.

Disney earlier this year launched the ESPN Plus streaming service as a means to opening the service up beyond linear cable distribution. Disney said the service has garnered more than 1 million subscribers to date.

During Disney’s fiscal fourth-quarter earnings announcement earlier this month, Disney execs noted that the rate of subscriber declines slowed between 2017 and 2018, to a drop of 2% compared to 3% between 2016 and 2017. In the fiscal fourth quarter ending Sept. 30, the rate of decline clocked in at 1%, likely reflecting the gains from virtual MVPDs.

Among other tidbits from the 119-page Securities and Exchange Commission filing:

Disney’s worldwide employee base stands at 201,000 as of the end of September.

Disney’s debt level will increase by nearly $20 billion to $40 billion after the completion of its $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox. The company said it will use some of the proceeds from the pending sale of Fox’s 22 regional sports networks to pay down that nut. Disney will have interest expense of $2 billion annually.

Federal tax reform legislation passed by Congress late last year delivered a $1.7 billion benefit to Disney’s bottom line in fiscal 2018.

More TV

  • Mueller Report Release Draws 11 Million

    Mueller Report Release Draws 11 Million Total Viewers Across TV News

    Coverage of the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report into whether President Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice unsurprisingly caused a ratings bump across TV news yesterday. In terms of overall viewership, around 11 million people tuned in to see Attorney General William Barr’s news conference regarding the report’s release, and the news coverage surrounding it. According [...]

  • Neilsons Measurment Problems TV Digital

    WarnerMedia Pulls Out of Audience-Targeting Alliance Open A.P.

    WarnerMedia is going its own way when it comes to helping advertisers find specific groups of TV-watchers. The company, a founding member of the audience-targeting media alliance known as Open A.P., said Friday it would withdraw from the group, citing its desire to pursue its own strategy under owner AT&T. AT&T purchased Time Warner in [...]

  • BLESS THIS MESS - "The Chicken

    Listen: Lake Bell, Dax Shepard on Returning to Broadcast TV With 'Bless This Mess'

    Welcome to “TV Take,” Variety’s television podcast. In this week’s installment, Variety’s executive editor of TV, Daniel Holloway, chats with Lake Bell and Dax Shepard, stars of ABC’s “Bless This Mess,” which debuted on Monday. The show centers around a newly married couple, played by Bell and Shepard, who decide to ditch their shoebox New York City [...]

  • superstore renewed season 3

    'Superstore' Showrunner Justin Spitzer Steps Down as He, Gabe Miller, Jonathan Green Renew Overall Deals at UTV

    “Superstore” executive producers Justin Spitzer, Gabe Miller and Jonathan Green have all renewed their overall deals with Universal Television. In addition, Miller and Green will take over showrunner duties on “Superstore” while Spitzer–who also created the series–will shift to develop new projects for the studio beginning with the 2019-2020 season. “I can’t thank Justin enough [...]

  • THE EXORCIST

    'Exorcist' Star Max Von Sydow Doesn't Let Age Define His Roles

    Max von Sydow turned 90 this month, which is a milestone for most people, but age has always seemed incidental to the actor. When he played the elderly, frail Father Merrin in “The Exorcist,” von Sydow was 44 — meaning he was the same age Bradley Cooper is today. In the 1950s, von Sydow had [...]

  • Gentleman Jack Suranne Jones

    TV Review: HBO's 'Gentleman Jack'

    “Nature played a challenging trick on me, didn’t she?” Anne Lister (Suranne Jones) first utters this sentence with an arch amusement, but over the course of Sally Wainwright’s new drama “Gentleman Jack,” she repeats the sentiment with pride, exhaustion and defiance. Living in 1832 Halifax as a lesbian with a penchant for sweeping black suits [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content