ESPN is estimated to have made $10.8 billion in revenue in 2014 according to estimates by SNL Kagan (via the Wall Street Journal) and Wunderlich Securities (via Forbes). Of that revenue, nearly two-thirds (63.9%) came from subscription fees paid by cable television customers.
In 2014, ESPN charged cable companies the largest fee by any network, by far, at $6.04 per subscriber whether those people watched ESPN or not. That translates to more than $6.9 billion in revenue from subscribers alone, easily ESPN’s biggest source of revenue.
That ESPN makes a lot of money off of cable subscribers is not a surprise, but the enormity is jaw-dropping. Consider that the next-biggest money-maker is TNT, which charged just $1.48 per subscriber and generated $1.7 billion in subscriber revenue in 2014.
It is also worrisome as the number of people with ESPN in their homes has fallen by more than 8 million subscribers since its peak in 2011. That, coupled with skyrocketing costs associated with airing live sporting events, is a terrible combination.
Here is how ESPN’s subscription fees compare to their advertising revenue…
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