ESPN Cutting the Cord with Cable

By: Gina Mason

Dear Cable,

I’m breaking up with you.
Love,
ESPN

ESPN announced that it was ending its long-term relationship with cable companies to go out on its own into the digital streaming world with Dish. The sports media giant will now stream its programming online so viewers can access it from their computers, tablets, smartphones and TVs for a seemingly unfathomable rate of $20 per month. In addition to ESPN, this new Dish partnership will include other popular channels such CNN, Disney and the Food Network through its new streaming service, Sling TV.

This is a shocking blow for cable companies considering that ESPN is one of the most-watched networks on the market. According to the Washington Post, “On New Year’s Day, the biggest cable audience ever tuned in to ESPN’s new college football playoffs, with 28.2 million viewers watching the Rose Bowl game between Oregon and Florida State, and another 28.3 million catching the Ohio State-Alabama game. Then on Saturday, the NFL wild card game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Carolina Panthers became the eighth most-watched cable program ever, drawing 21.7 million viewers.” Not only does the 24-hour sports new channel own the rights to many of the world’s biggest sporting events, but it also is one of the only channels that keeps people watching real-time shows/events instead of fast forwarding through commercials or watching video on demand (VOD).

However, don’t throw out your cable box out yet. This new partnership does not include many of the major broadcast networks such as CBS, NBC and Fox, which eliminates many popular primetime shows such as “The Voice,” local news broadcasts and major events like the Super Bowl (NBC) and the Grammys (CBS). This could keep the cable networks in the game for a while longer, but if ESPN sees success, it is likely that major networks will decide to go out on their own as well. Many are predicting that this is just the beginning of the pick-and-play model where consumers select only the networks they watch which could lead to the demise of cable as we know it now.

After spending almost $200 per month on cable (like many of you out there) for essentially three channels (NBC, ESPN and yes, Bravo), $20 per month sounds like a refreshing change to me. I think it will be incredibly interesting to see how this all plays out and see if the cable giants will be able to survive and/or adapt to digital streaming.

What do you think of the Dish and ESPN deal? Do you think this will put an end to traditional cable as we know it? As always, if you like what you read be social and share.

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