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The biggest news in sports this

year is the declining number

of network television viewers

for live sporting events. The

NFL has been witnessing

double digit declines in 2016

and that has never happened.

The NFL has been the stalwart

of the sporting world in the

United States. Every football

fan’s hunger is quenched by

the seemingly continuous,

Thursday, Saturday, Sunday

and Monday coverage on

their big screens.

With various options of


today, cablevision subscribers

are saying good-bye to high

cable package monthly fees

and going to live streaming

for their weekly fix of sports

coverage. In golf, the majors

are all live streamed and the

PGA Tour and Golf Channel

provides live streaming every

week of the PGA, LPGA and

Champions Tours.

reports that ESPN has been

losing an average of 300,000

viewers monthly for the past

couple years. Plus, ESPN

experienced their worst loss

ever inOctober with a decline

in subscribers of 621,000.

Cable providers pay ESPN

$7.00 per subscriber for their

broadcast rights, which is a

loss of $4.3 million in gross

revenue for ESPN in a single


In turn, ESPN pays the

NFL $1.9 billion alone for

broadcasting rights, $1.4

billion to the NBA and $700

million to major league

baseball. In total ESPN

doles out $7.3 billion to

various sports leagues for the

exclusive rights to air their


ESPN currently has approxi-

mately 90 million subscribers

at $7.00 each that’s $630 mil-

lion per month or $7.5 billion

per year. In addition, they

collect over $1.5 billion from

advertising income for a total

of $9 billion annual revenue.

Broadcasting rights cost

$7.3 billion per year and

if operating costs are in

the $1-$1.5 billion range,

the profit margin becomes

uncomfortably thin.

If ESPN continues to lose

subscribers at their current

rate of 3 million per year, that

calculates to an additional

loss of $21 million in gross

revenue per year. ESPN’s

parent company Disney

is concerned and their

shareholders are noticing too.

The stock has been active and

experienced declines.

This discussion leads us to

how it affects golf. Much of

the revenue for the major

tours, PGA, LPGA and

Champions Tours comes via

the broadcasting rights and

advertising. If the networks

are losing viewership and

have less income, they can’t

pay the tours. In addition,

tournament sponsors will be

unwilling to spend millions of

dollars to put their corporate

name on a golf tournament if

no one is watching.

ESPN Losing Viewers in Record Numbers:

Sports Viewership on Television is Rapidly Changing

By Fred Altvater

NWO Golf Links