Decline in Cable TV Subscribers Continues: ESPN and MLB Network Among the Hardest Hit

In the ever-evolving landscape of television consumption, cord cutting has struck a blow to some of the most popular networks.

According to a recent report from Nielsen, major cable TV networks in the United States have witnessed a significant decline in subscribers over the past 12 months.

Decline in Cable TV Subscribers Continues: ESPN and MLB Network Among the Hardest Hit

ESPN, a sports broadcasting giant, faced a substantial setback, losing approximately 4 million subscribers since December 2022.

The impact was even more severe for MLB Network, which saw a staggering loss of over 11 million subscribers – equivalent to more than a quarter of its TV subscriber base.

Notably, MLB Network had been dropped by YouTube TV earlier in the year.

Other networks also felt the pressure of cord cutting during this period.

FS1 experienced a loss of over 3 million subscribers, while BTN and TNT lost over 2 million and 4 million subscribers, respectively.

In a surprising turn, the NFL Network managed to minimize its losses to 281,000 subscribers, thanks to new deals with players like DIRECTV STREAM.

Decline in Cable TV Subscribers Continues: ESPN and MLB Network Among the Hardest Hit

Despite the addition of 1.2 million new TV homes in 2023, the trend of cord cutting persists.

Increasingly, viewers are opting for on-demand-only services such as Max and Netflix, abandoning traditional pay TV services like cable TV or live TV streaming.

The hope among cable TV executives that cord cutters would transition to live TV streaming services appears to be diminishing.

In total, the number of Americans paying for live TV services from cable TV companies or streaming services has dwindled by 4.4 million, reaching just 74.5 million customers.

This decline is noteworthy considering there are an estimated 125 million households with a TV in the United States.

To counteract the decline, ESPN is gearing up to launch its own streaming service in 2025. The move is seen as a strategic effort to recover lost subscribers and revenue.

The data paints a clear picture of the dramatic shift in how Americans consume TV, emphasizing that for those uninterested in sports, there’s diminishing motivation to pay for a live TV service.

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