ESPN, other sports networks return to sub growth thanks to census revision

ESPN Los Angeles

After a steady drumbeat of subscriber losses, ESPN and a number of national sports-programming networks actually grew their customer bases in August, according to Nielsen. 

The research company said ESPN expanded its audience base by just over 1.07 million viewers. Fox Sports 1 was up over 3.2 million. The NFL Network was up around 7.5 million customers.

The latter can be explained by the NFL’s carriage deal with Dish Network, which ended a blackout. 

Sponsored by Google Cloud

Webinar: Remote Post Production In The Cloud

Video production companies across the world have traditionally been tethered to physical facilities, but with the advent of covid-19, remote post production capabilities are more important than ever. Join this webinar to learn more about how video producers can utilize Google Cloud infrastructure, along with partner applications, to develop a remote post production suite that brings your artists and editors together, no matter where they are.

As for ESPN, pundits say its narrow increase can be attributed to updated TV household numbers released by the Census Bureau. According to Nielsen, the U.S. added 2 million TV households in the 2015-16 season to reach 118.4 million total households. 

The subscriber numbers, of course, ebb and flow based on carriage deals and a number of other factors. But with ESPN, the most pricey network in the pay-TV ecosystem, losing millions of subscribers every year now, Nielsen’s data on network distribution is being carefully watched these days. 

Notably, these monthly Nielsen tallies do not include metrics for new virtual pay-TV systems like Sling TV. According to SNL Kagan, Sling has amassed more than 700,000 subscribers so far, most of which get ESPN. 

For more:
- read this Awful Announcing story

Related articles:
ESPN has lost another 2.2M subs since February, Nielsen says
ESPN lost another 1.5M subs from February to May, Nielsen says
Iger: ESPN subscriber losses have 'abated,' but sports costs weigh Disney down

Read more on

Suggested Articles

Locast, a free streaming app for local broadcast television, has added Minneapolis and St. Paul to the list of cities that can access its service.

TiVo said that its recent Stream 4K connected TV device is selling faster than any of the company’s previous hardware releases.

The second-quarter earnings season has wrapped up for the top publicly traded pay TV operators in the U.S., and it's time to break down the numbers.