ESPN took another hit to its subscriber totals this month while the network is reportedly letting go of John Clayton.
Nielsen’s latest numbers show that ESPN lost 3.8% of its subscribers in May, according to the New York Post. That loss rate was well ahead of the 2.9% subscriber drop for cable channels during the month.
ESPN’s struggles with maintaining its high subscriber totals has been well documented by Nielsen. According to the firm, in January both ESPN and ESPN2 fell below 75% of U.S. households covered.
Last year, when Nielsen reported ESPN lost 621,000 subscribers in October 2016, ESPN refuted the numbers and Nielsen temporarily retracted the figures. However, Nielsen eventually reaffirmed its findings.
“Nielsen has now completed an extensive review and has verified that November estimates were accurate as originally released and that all the processes that go into the creation of these estimates were done correctly. Accordingly, they will be re-released today to our clients and put into our production systems on Monday, Nov. 7, 2016,” the company said.
Of course, ESPN isn’t the only sports network losing subscribers. According to the Nielsen report from January, with the exception of FS2, which added 235,000 subscribers since December, most other sports networks lost subscribers. Eclipsing the losses of ESPN’s channels, the Golf Channel lost about 1.24 million subscribers and MLB Network lost about 1.1 million subscribers since December.
But ESPN’s ups and downs have gained a lot of attention, in part due to the network’s impact on parent company Disney’s earnings.
During its latest quarter, Disney said its earnings were dragged down by ESPN. Cable networks revenues rose 3% to $4.1 billion, but operating income fell 3% to $1.8 billion due to profit decreases at ESPN. Disney attributed the decrease at ESPN to higher programming costs, partially offset by affiliate and advertising revenue growth.
ESPN’s struggles led to a round of layoffs in May, and Clayton is just the latest big name reportedly leaving the network amid the cuts. According to Sporting News, the NFL analyst will exit ESPN after spending 23 years with the network.
While Clayton may be leaving, fellow ESPN analyst Lee Corso just had his contract extended. The 30-year network veteran, who co-hosts ESPN College Gameday, agreed to a new multiyear deal with the network.