In a sign that Americans are now speaking with their wallets in regards to cable, a new survey shows that a majority of people would be happy to say goodbye to ESPN and ESPN2 if it means a lower cable bill.

The survey commissioned by BTIG researcher Rich Greenfield asked two questions, “If you could save $8 per month by removing ESPN and ESPN2 from your cable or satellite package, would you do it?” and “If ESPN and ESPN2 were ONLY available as a standalone service like Netflix, would you pay $20 per month to subscribe?”

The results are quite interesting. Fifty-six percent of those responding said they would cut ties with ESPN/ESPN2 if mean saving $8 a month. Even more interesting is that 49% of those saying they would get rid of the ESPN Family of Networks were men.

For the second question, only 6% said they would be willing to pay $20 a month to have ESPN as a standalone service.

Greenfield has been down on ESPN recently, writing an article that a standalone service wasn’t feasible.

It was thought that among men and especially younger men, ESPN was that “must-have” network that keeps people from cutting the cable cord. But Greenfield’s survey results show otherwise.

According to Greenfield, ESPN makes $9 billion annually from its various cable and satellite distribution agreements. He said if 15% of households subscribe to a standalone service at $20 a month, ESPN would only bring in $4 billion.

With people cord cutting and ESPN losing consistently subscribers since 2011, Greenfield said, “At some point the subscriber numbers fall far enough you start to get people to launch direct to consumer or smaller bundles. I wouldn’t be surprised if this year you’ll see bundles without ESPN.”

And if that starts to happen, ESPN will take a big hit not just in subscriber numbers, but also ratings and in advertising dollars.


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.