Woke, Sinking Ship: Travis Says Disney Ought To Sell ESPN While It Can

Jay Maxson | May 23, 2022
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Those opposed to ESPN’s woke, left-wing politics may be comforted to know the network may ultimately be headed for irrelevance. A remarkable analysis by Outkick’s Clay Travis pegs ESPN and ESPN+ as badly bleeding networks with bleak futures. The Worldwide leader in woke sports lost eight million cable and satellite subscribers last year – 10 percent of its base and an average of a staggering 22,000 people per day. 

ESPN’s Disney parent mistakenly believes the huge losses are due to cord cutting, are sustainable and that its ESPN+ streaming revenue will save the network, Travis noted. 

Travis wrote today that “ESPN’s future as a standalone cable entity is even more dire. Even if most still haven’t realized it yet. Why? Because streaming isn’t going to save ESPN’s business either, no matter how much bragging to the contrary company executives attempt.” 

Related: Woke At Home, NBA Owners Are Complicit With China’s Abuses

Cord cutting has already cost ESPN 25 percent of its customer base, shrinking it from 100 million customers and $12 billion in revenue to 75 million subscribers and $9 billion in revenue. These numbers will continue to plummet in a big way and are unsustainable losses, Travis says. He also claims that 50 million subscribers may be the floor. 

Travis says the “consensus view” is that ESPN will suffer 5 million subscriber losses a year in the next decade. Eventually, ESPN will no longer be able to pay huge rights fees for major sporting events, making it less watchable for sports fans and less palatable for Disney to own. 

“The library of old games just has limited, if any, value,” Travis wrote. “Sports is all about what’s happening now and ESPN doesn’t own that content.” 

Travis doubts Disney has much of a future remaining with ESPN. Disney is already losing a billion dollars a quarter on all of its streaming ventures. Nevertheless, Disney CEO Bob Chapek said last week that ESPN’s streaming future “will be the ultimate fan offering. It will appeal to superfans that really love sports, and I think there’s nobody but ESPN who could frankly pull that off.” 

ESPN is the Titanic, and Disney is merely rearranging the deck chairs, Travis explains. He says streaming is not the solution because the network’s existing sports cable contracts don’t allow it to move them to streaming TV.

That includes major events like college football playoff games, Monday Night Football and NBA playoff games. They’d be appearing elsewhere on TV. Even if ESPN tried to do that, Direct TV and DISH would punish the network by placing it in premium pricing tiers. Tens of millions of subscribers would vanish, Travis estimates. 

ESPN+ would need 130 million subscribers paying $100 a year. Not going to happen. ESPN cable has never even produced 30 million viewers. 

What are the long-term implications of all this? Unless huge corporations like Amazon or Apple acquire ESPN and are able to withstand major losses, ESPN will be forced to let go of those major sports mentioned above. And besides, Apple and Amazon could just buy the contract rights to major events without getting bogged down in ESPN’s quagmire. 

Travis says for all intents and purposes ESPN is a dead, slow growth company already descending toward oblivion. Streaming will only hasten its demise. Disney, he says, would be wise to cut ESPN adrift while there is still a chance of finding a buyer at any price.