After a long period of losing households due to other cord cutting, cord shaving or other factors, ESPN, FS1 and other cable networks actually saw gains in the latest Nielsen estimates of cable coverage. According to the September 2016 estimates, ESPN which was  in 88.781 for last month gained over 1 million to be in 89.856.

But FS1 saw some big gains. At 82.7 million for the August estimate, FS1 is said to be in 85.931 million for September which is a rise of almost 3.3 million homes. It was behind ESPN by six million homes last month. It’s now less than five million.

Now why the jump? Is it because of the new skinny bundles like Dish’s Sling TV, Sony’s PlayStation Vue and Verizon’s Custom TV? No. According to the Sports TV Ratings site, they aren’t being counted yet.

Apparently an increase of nearly 1.5% was applied to everyone. Why? Sports TV Ratings speculates that it might have been due to updated census bureau numbers which of course, shows the U.S. population increasing, but even with a 1.5% increase, ESPN’s rise was just 1.2% so it still could have lost some numbers due to cord cutting or cord shaving.

NFL Network had the biggest jump. In 63,4 million homes in the August estimates, it’s in 70.9 million, but that was not only contributed to the 1.5% increase, but also the new agreement with Dish Network that ended an extended blackout.

Here are the latest household estimates from Sports TV Ratings:

September 2016 cable coverage estimates. Courtesy Sports TV Ratings
September 2016 cable coverage estimates. Courtesy Sports TV Ratings

So ESPN and the other sports networks have a brief respite from the loss in homes whether it was from cord cutting, cord shaving, millennials or other factors. Still, the numbers are trending down for the pay TV providers and how they find ways to attract viewers will be the next chapter in this ongoing story.

[Sports TV Ratings]

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.

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