Despite pay-TV subscription losses, ESPN in line for significant ad revenue increases in 2016

Despite a steady stream of bad news about its subscriber metrics in 2015, ESPN appears poised to grow its advertising revenue in 2016.

According to a survey of advertising executives conducted by Beta Research, Disney-owned ESPN was the most likely to see increased ad spending for the coming year.

The research company interviewed 229 executives, measuring responses on 43 basic cable networks and four major broadcast networks. Sixty-three percent of agency executives interviewed said they expect to spend more money on ESPN in 2016 than they did last year. Next in line was ESPN2 (45 percent).

Others in the top 10 included Discovery Channel (42 percent), Food Network, HGTV and TNT (each at 41 percent), TBS (40 percent), NBC Sports Network and USA Network (each at 37 percent) and AMC (36 percent).

NBC led the broadcast networks at 48 percent, followed by ABC (46 percent), CBS (40 percent) and Fox (30 percent).

Between 2013 to 2015, ESPN lost about 7 million total subscribers, with the flagship channels ESPN and ESPN2 each dropping 4 percent from a high of 99 million to 95 million subs today. Dropping most dramatically was ESPN Classic, which is down 16.1 percent to 26 million subscribers.

Analysts have speculated that ESPN's reduced audience reach will ultimately result in not only reduced subscription revenue, but also declining ad spend. However, the Beta Research data conflicts with that narrative.

For more:
- read this MediaPost story
- read this Broadcasting & Cable story

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