Monday, July 13, 2015

ESPN's Tightens Its Belt

From Tom Taylor's column this morning...

“Tough negotiations” ahead for Colin Cowherd and other ESPN talent. And remember the recent reversal of the decision to relocate ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike morning show from Bristol, Connecticut to Manhattan, located just above the set of ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America?” Saving money was “a major factor” in that decision, says the Wall Street Journal. While the Journal doesn’t mention her, the planned addition of Molly Qerim to “Mike & Mike” is also on ice. Whatever belt-cinching happened around Disney-controlled ESPN, it happened fast. ESPN contributes about 25% of Disney’s operating profit, says Nomura Securities. But it’s now paying triple the amount it used to for NBA rights, going from $485 million a year to $1.47 billion – and that’s just one of the cost-side pressures. While Nielsen says ESPN has lost 3.2 million subscribers since early 2014, due to cheaper choices made by cable customers or outright cord-cutting. ESPN wrings $6.61 per subscriber every month out of cable companies, the most expensive thing on the viewing grid. That just can’t keep going up forever. ESPN superstar Bill Simmons left in May and Keith Olbermann’s departure was announced last week. The Journal says “other ESPN talent likely facing tough negotiations down the road include Monday Night Football anchor Mike Tirico…and radio host Colin Cowherd.”