ESPN is on pace to lose more than 3 million subscribers in 2016

The number of homes with ESPN has dropped below 89 million for the first time in more that a decade, according to Nielsen estimates (via Sports TV Ratings) as the Worldwide Leader in Sports continues to bleed subscribers at an alarming rate.

According to the latest estimate, ESPN lost more than 600,000 subscribers during the month of October alone, although it is not clear how much of that was from adjustments made earlier this year that may have overestimated the number of homes in July, August, and September. The most recent estimate is nearly twice as much as the 310,000 subscribers ESPN had been losing on average per month.

Overall, ESPN's subscriber base is now projected to fall to 88.4 million by the end of the year, a loss of more than 3.0 million subscribers since the end of 2015.


Cork Gaines/Business Insider

Nielsen initially retracted the new estimates after objections by ESPN. However, according to Sports Business Daily, Nielsen decided to stand by the numbers after reviewing the data.

This is a troubling trend for a network that generates 60% of its revenue from subscription fees charged to cable and satellite companies. It is also just another sign that ESPN is going to have to get more creative with generating web subscribers and offering ESPN as a standalone product, much like HBO has done with HBO Now.

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